Oklahoma State travels to ever-dangerous Morgantown, W.Va. today to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers. With two high-flying offenses taking the field, it should prove to be a fantastic matchup.
Earlier this week, I caught up with Matt Kirchner, site manager of SB Nation’s Smoking Musket, our West Virginia sister site. I had quite a few questions for him.
Let’s start here... Some are calling Will Grier the best QB in WVU history. Were you expecting this kind of production out of him before the season?
Matt: The Will Grier hype train was insane leading up to this season and unbelievably, he's exceeded those expectations. I expected a longer learning period, considering how QBs have looked in the past in their first full season with Holgo. Grier is obviously in a different league than guys like Trickett or Skyler Howard.
Still, I can't call him the best QB we've ever had yet. There's a group of Major Harris, Marc Bulger, Pat White (my pick), and Geno Smith that he's definitely nearing, but I need to see more than a season.
What does the Mountaineer offense want to do in a perfect world?
Matt: Run, run, run and then unleash big plays via playaction. We're going to try to get Crawford, McKoy, and Petteway going early and then unleash hell with Sills, White, Jennings, and Simms, which leads nicely to your next question.
The Mountaineers have really struggled to run the football lately. Why is that?
Matt: This is the billion dollar question. There aren't offensive line injuries, we just aren't executing. Fixing this issue that seemingly randomly popped up against Tech will define the rest of our year, and to be honest, I don't know what's really causing the issue.
Shifting to the defensive side, what do you make of the WVU defense so far this season?
Matt: Inconsistent, inexperienced, but getting there.
The 3-3-5 traditionally, going back to the mid '00s with Jeff Casteel, just has years where we're young at important positions in a complicated scheme and it shows. 2017 is one of those seasons.
Cornerback play is where we're struggling-they make plays but are penalty prone. With David Long coming back from injury, the pass rush is getting better, so expect to see lots of blitzing to cover those CB deficiencies.
Shockingly, run defense with a very young DL has been pretty good. Lamonte MacDougle, a true frosh NT has been a revelation.
Where should Oklahoma State expect to find success against the Mountaineer defense? Is there a big area of concern for you?
Matt: Big plays, which obviously scares the hell out of me. The cornerbacks are giving up plays or conceding DPI at an alarming rate, so James Washington is in my nightmares.
It looks like weather will play a factor in this game. How do you think that affects the West Virginia offense?
Matt: Not a ton to be honest. We want to be a run first team to set up passing, so the gameplan won't be different. Again, figuring out why we suddenly can't run the ball is imperative.
Score prediction? Who wins and why?
Matt: God, I have no idea. It's going to be a fun game but I just can't shake our random inability to run the ball and the big plays we're giving up.
Oklahoma State 42 WVU 38.
Thanks again to Matt for joining us to talk about the upcoming game. Do you agree with him? Disagree? Let us know in the comments below.