1) So this WVU team was kind of lost in all the preseason hype that is the top Big 12. However, the last month or so of the offseason and first four weeks of the season was built on calling WVU the dark horse. The defense looked solid, offense was good and everything seemed to be clicking. Then the OU game happened. What happened? What do you actually know about this team?
TSM: The OU game was a perfect storm of facing our first true test in a hostile environment and making all of our mistakes at the worst possible time. We had shots to get back into the game - and did for a while, but we just couldn't keep momentum on our side.
That's really what our team is, to be honest. We need momentum early on or it can be a rough going against anyone, let alone a team like Oklahoma. We have major question marks (not the least of which is filling the leadership void of Karl Joseph), but the pieces are still there for a big run in the Big 12.
It's going to come down to whether or not this team can rally from an early haymaker.
2) Talking stats - Howard doesn't seem to be the best passer in the league - standing at just over 1,000 yards through the season. What makes him special and why should OSU be scared of what Howard can do for WVU this week?
TSM: Howard has some issues but can also make some big plays. He got rattled early last Saturday, but normally he recovers from early problems to have a strong game and that didn't happen against Oklahoma. His biggest strength was taking care of the ball and that got taken away from him last week as well. He's a tough kid, but we'll see if he's really up to the task in this league after these next few weeks. If we implode in this October minefield, the calls for William Crest could get louder.
On the positive side, he's great at making plays with his feet, whether on designed runs or scrambles. It really brings a new identity to Holgorsen's offense that I've really enjoyed. Seeing some true zone read back in Morgantown makes my heart grow three sizes.
I really miss Pat White.
3) After losing Kevin White, I'm sure there was a hunt to see who would be the next 'guy' in Morgantown. Have they found him and who is it?
TSM: We don't have anyone with the measurables of Kevin (who does, really?) but we've gotten the production from two youngsters -- Shelton Gibson and Jovon Durante.
Gibson is in the Tavon Austin/Mario Alford mold and has made a ton of big plays early on. Durante came in late to camp as a true freshman and is still lighting up defenses, which is really fun in the long term. He's going to be a nightmare for years.
4) What makes this defense good? Do you think the weak schedule in the beginning pumped it up to high or just right?
tSM: The heart and soul of this defense is the secondary, which makes KJ's injury even more devastating. We have leaders that can keep the unit strong, but whenever you lose an All-American, you don't just keep moving along. The unit is for real, though, Oklahoma game be damned. I've never seen a defense like this in Morgantown, and we've had some entertaining ones before.
Where we need to pick up, though, is in the pass rushing department. Especially with the loss of Joseph,we're going to need to generate some pressure and force teams into turnovers because of that pressure.
5) What's your expectations for this WVU team as of right now after the first conference game?
TSM: I still see this team as a fringe Big 12 title shot, but more likely an 8 or 9 win team that is in almost every game. The offense has been great when clicking and I don't think the OU defense is the real unit. October is going to tell the story: winning two out of our next three puts us in great position going into a lighter November schedule.
6) What's your predictions for this game? How many redbulls is Dana at right now and how many will be consumed on Saturday?
TSM: WVU wins on Homecoming due to some early big plays and the defense playing well enough to keep us a couple scores ahead all evening.
Holgo is at infinity Red Bulls, as per the laws of nature.