When: 3:30pm, Saturday October 29th
Where: High Point Solutions Stadium, Piscataway, NJ
What to Watch For When The ‘Eers Have the Ball: Whether quarterback Geno Smith is on his back or standing upright. Last week's loss to the blitz-heavy Syracuse Orange has given all Mountaineer opponents a look at WVU's glaring weakness: the offensive line. West Virginia looked completely overmatched last week and once Geno became more concerned with getting hit than making plays, the ‘Eers were sunk. WVU was forced to run many of their late game plays from the diamond formation, which stacked protection in the backfield but limited Smith's targets downfield. The result was Geno trying to force plays that weren't there, often to disastrous results. West Virginia's offensive success today will ride on whether or not the Mountaineers can protect Smith long enough for him to find the open receiver. Geno has to avoid panicking and not force throws that aren't there for the ‘Eers to succeed. Rutgers has a top ten defense, so it could be rough road ahead.
What to Watch For When The Scarlet Knights Have the Ball: Whether the Mountaineers can stuff the run and pressure the pass. WVU's defensive front hasn't managed to get the best of anyone so far this year and the end result is plenty of pocket time for passers and wide open holes for runners. Whenever the Mountaineers are stuck in third and short situations, the opposition has had success picking up the first down. WVU will have to make sure that wide receiver Mohamed Sanu stays in front of them or else they could find themselves playing from behind.
The Mountaineers Will Roll If: The offensive line can protect Geno Smith and move the chains on third down. Conversely, the defense will need to pressure the quarterback and get off the field on third down.
The Mountaineers Will Have Trouble If: The offensive line can't pick up the blitz and the defensive line can't get a push. The Mountaineers were beaten soundly in the trenches last weekend, a trend that could be disastrous for WVU if it continues.
Thing That Makes My Blood Boil: If the Mountaineers lose, and WVU fans continue to bend over backwards to find anybody to blame not named Dana Holgorsen. Last weekend's loss found the Orange rolling up forty plus points on the defense, but the anemic offense can be blamed for at least fifteen of those points. West Virginia struggled mightily to pick up first downs and the end result was a defense that was completely gassed by the fourth quarter. Amazingly though, despite absolute ugliness on offense, no one seems to think it was much of an issue and the calls for defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel's removal got a little louder. Personally, I think that's nuts. All units need play off of each other, and the defense will look tougher if the offense can put together a drive.