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When West Virginia and TCU replaced Texas A&M and Missouri in the Big 12, I said that the conference had gotten an upgrade. I knew that West Virginia was scary good and the Mountaineers are showing just that. I wasn’t sure if Texas could beat West Virginia, but I knew they would be much more physical than Baylor. The Texas defense, for the most part did a serviceable job against Geno Smith and his receivers. For the second week in a row, what killed the Longhorns was stopping the run and specifically tackling. The Longhorns obviously went into the game focusing on Geno Smith and the passing game, which was smart, but they neglected to address the running game. The Longhorns picked their poison, making sure Geno didn’t beat them. They probably didn’t think Andrew Buie could beat them, but they were wrong. Buie gashed the Texas defense for 207 yards and 2 TD. The defense that some people were saying was SEC quality has a long of work to do. Job one should be going back to basics and figuring out how to tackle again.
You have to give West Virginia a lot of credit. They were playing their first Big 12 road game. Darrel K. Royal Memorial Stadium was rocking more than I can ever remember. The Mountaineers were not intimidated despite some punches in the mouth from the Longhorns. Geno Smith still has not thrown an interception in 2012, but the Horns defense put some hits on him and forced two fumbles, one of which was recovered for a touchdown. Smith took the shots and still delivered the ball. He didn’t quite put up the numbers that he put up against Baylor, but most quarterbacks would still be happy with his stats from the game. Despite the aggressive nature of the Texas defense, Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey put up good numbers, but it was the running game that killed the Longhorns. In the end, the Mountaineers offense outperformed the Longhorns defense and West Virginia outlasted Texas 48-45.
Here are my thoughts on the draft eligible players from this game. I will start with the winning team:
Geno Smith–QB–Sr: Most people were ready to give Smith the Heisman Trophy after a record breaking performance against Baylor. While Smith didn’t set record breaking numbers this week, his performance against Texas may have been more impressive. He realized that the Texas defense was geared to stop the passing game. West Virginia saw that Texas couldn’t stop the running game, so they switched gears and kept the ball on the ground. Smith is a player that enjoys the chess match on the football field. He is a very smart quarterback that lives for football. He was very confident and poised in a hostile environment and took what the defense gave him. The Texas defense sacked Smith four times and he fumbled twice, but he continued to stand in the pocket and deliver the ball to his receivers. Smith completed 25 of 35 for 268 yards and 4 TD.
Stedman Bailey-WR-Jr: Bailey continued to put up big numbers. There is no doubt that he benefits from having Tavon Austin on the other side, but he is a threat in his own right. He is an underrated playmaker that makes the catch and then eludes tacklers. Even when the defense thinks they have him, he can just spin out of the tackle. Bailey gets more dangerous when they get into the red zone. He leads the Mountaineers with 13 TD after only 5 games. Bailey had 8 catches for 75 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Tavon Austin-WR-Sr: Tavon Austin is the type of player that when he gets the ball in his hands, you hold your breath. Once the ball is in his hands, he can juke a defender and take it to the house. He had kickoff returns of 44 and 67 yards which forced the Longhorns to squib kickoffs the rest of the night. Although you don’t think of him as a move the chains kind of receiver, he had 3 catches on 4th down. One of the 4th down catches went for 40 yards and TD. He ended the night with 10 catches for 102 yards and 1 TD.
J.D. Woods-WR-Sr: J.D. Woods is the possession guy of the offense. He is bigger than Austin and Bailey and he makes a lot of the underneath catches that move the chains. He goes over the middle and takes the shots from the defense. He Longhorns held him to only 2 catches for 24 yards, but he dropped one pass that would have been a touchdown.
Josh Jenkins-G-Sr: Josh Jenkins did a good job clearing the way for Andre Buie’s runs. Jenkins and the rest of the West Virginia offensive line deserve a lot of the credit for this win. The Longhorn defense had no answer for the Mountaineer rushing attack. His lone mistake was a holding penalty in the red zone right before the first half.
Josh Francis-LB-Sr: Josh Francis made several big plays for the Mountaineer defense. He was all over the field. Francis was the one Mountaineer defender that the Longhorns had trouble blocking. He had 9 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack and had 2 QB hurries.
Pat Miller-CB-Sr: Pat Miller had a tough game against Baylor, but he redeemed himself against Texas. He did a better job of timing his hits on receivers. Miller had 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Miller also had two pass breakups, one on a 4th down and the other in the end zone.
Brodrick Jenkins-CB-Jr: Brodrick Jenkins did a good job against the Texas outside rushing attack. He came up quickly in run support and turned the play inside to allow other defenders to make the tackle. Jenkins had 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.
Darwin Cook-S-Jr: Darwin Cook was an active player all night. He had 7 tackles, but had a face mask penalty on Daje Johnson’s 46 yard run that setup the Longhorn’s first touchdown.
Jeremy Hills– RB- Sr: Jeremy Hills is a player that in previous years, has struggled to get playing time. This year, he is contributing as a 3rd down back and is the Longhorns 4th leading receiver. Against West Virginia he had 6 catches for 67 yards and had a 20 yard reception. He does a good job once they get him the ball in space.
Mike Davis – WR- Jr: Mike Davis was held in check by the West Virginia defense. He only had 3 catches for 20 yards.
Marquise Goodwin-WR-Sr: Marquise Goodwin is continuing to develop as a player for the Longhorns. He had kickoff returns of 36 and 48 yards and had 4 catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. Early in his career, he seemed to just be a track guy that was playing football. Goodwin seems to becoming more of an all-around player and even showed some toughness in this game. He was hit hard by safety Karl Joseph in the 2nd quarter and he fumbled the ball. He lay on the ground for quite some time, but eventually got up and returned to catch the TD pass that brought the Longhorns within 3 points late in the game.
D.J. Grant-TE-Sr: D.J. Grant has always done a good job blocking, but now he is starting to become more of a factor in the passing game. He is tough to bring down once he makes the catch. Grant had 2 catches for 30 yards, including a 26 yarder. He also had a dropped pass.
Luke Poehlman-OT-Sr: Luke Poehlman is used by the Longhorns in a lot of different ways. They sometimes use him as an extra lineman or as a blocking tight end. Poehlman even lines up as a fullback in short yardage sets. Last year against Baylor, they even snuck him out to catch a touchdown pass.
Alex Okafor-DE-Sr: No one can pin this loss on Alex Okafor. The Texas defensive ends made plays against the Mountaineers and put pressure on Geno Smith the entire game. Okafor had 2 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 3 QB hurries. He also stripped Smith twice and blocked a field goal.
Chris Whaley-DT-Jr: Chris Whaley is in his second year as a defensive lineman after coming to Texas as a running back. He is getting more comfortable as a defensive tackle and beginning to make his presence felt. Whaley is improving at getting off of blocks, pushing the pocket and even chasing down the QB when he scrambles. He had 7 tackles, 1 ½ tackles for loss, 1 QB hurry and recovered a fumble.
Jackson Jeffcoat-DE-Jr: Jackson Jeffcoat teamed with Okafor to make Geno Smith’s life miserable. He is a smart player that gets after the QB, but isn’t fooled by trick plays. Jeffcoat had 4 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, ½ sack and 1 QB hurry. He also fell on the football when Okafor stripped Geno Smith, the play resulting in a touchdown.
DeMarco Cobbs-LB-Jr: Cobbs gave the Longhorns versatility in defending the Mountaineers. He was at times used to cover the West Virginia receivers and made a good tackle in space on Tavon Austin, which is not an easy task.
Carrington Byndom-CB-Jr. Carrington Byndom was one of the Longhorn defenders assigned to run with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. He used his physical style to break up a couple of passes to the Mountaineer receivers and for the most part did a decent job in pass coverage. Byndom had 4 tackles and blocked a West Virginia punt.
Adrian Phillips-S-Jr: Adrian Phillips caught heat after missing tackles against Oklahoma State. He also had issues against West Virginia, allowing Tavon Austin to run free on his 40 yard TD catch. If he had jammed Austin, it is unlikely that he would have scored on the play. Phillips had 9 tackles and ½ tackle for loss.
Kenny Vaccaro-S-Sr: Kenny Vaccaro does a good job chasing down the ball carrier. He is a big hitter, but the last two games he has had issues wrapping up the ball carrier and allowing big runs. Vacarro’s flexibility is a key to the Longhorn defensive scheme, so he needs to do a better job when he has a chance to make the tackle. He had 11 tackles and 1 tackle for loss
by Dwayne Wilton