Defensive Film History “Useless” For WVU’s Jake Spavital
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – At least a season’s worth of film review is typically useful when coaches scout an opponent.
In the case of Texas Tech’s defense, it was useless.
“It’s a completely different team than what you saw last year,” West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. “I wouldn’t even compare last year’s tape to this year’s tape. I glanced through all of last year’s tape and I moved on from that completely after how they played Oklahoma State, Arizona State and Houston this year.”
That gives Spavital five games, all of which were against spread offenses similar to that ran by WVU. Only Oklahoma State matches the Mountaineers in pure firepower, however, with the balance of both the pass and the run. In that game, the Red Raiders surrendered 44 points and 597 yards of offense as OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph hit for 376 yards on 27-of-38 passing with three scores and an interception.
The pick was for six, however, with freshman corner DeMarcus Fields returning an badly thrown ball 97 yards to tie the game at 7-7. Tech fared better in the other four contests, but still gave up at least 425 yards in three games while Power Fives foes hit for 45 (Arizona State) and 19 points.
“They went the juco route, got a lot of junior college kids in there to fill the void,” said Spavital, whose own offense ranks in the top 10 nationally in scoring, total yardage and passing. “They are very sound with their scheme and they eliminate a lot of things that you do. This year they are turning it into a lot of one-on-one battles. We have a big challenge ahead of us. They have a lot of energy and they’re top 10 in the country creating 14 turnovers this year. They have a lot of juice and are flying around.”
Tech is employing a three-down look, with an end a nose and a tackle. But it morphs and blends into a multiple set after that. Against OSU’s spread, Tech would stack two linebackers on the line at the edge to where the look resembled a 5-2 defense with four defensive backs in zero coverage. Other times they’d play man with one safety over the top and – in passing situations – stand up all 11 players with six on the line of scrimmage. It’s nothing the Mountaineers haven’t seen – but it’s something WVU hasn’t seen executed this well by Texas Tech.
“They needed some D-linemen and got some D-linemen,” Spavital said. “They did a good job filling the voids. They are pretty sound in all they do. They’ve got some confidence in their guys and its a scheme where they are going to put us in one-on-one battles and we have to win them all.”
And that’s this match-up in a nutshell. West Virginia’s receivers have to defeat Tech’s secondary. Emerge victorious in that battle and, with the ability to run the ball via Justin Crawford, likely win the game as well as long as the Mountaineers can finish better than they did a week ago – when WVU scored 24 points, but reached the red zone just three times due in part to horrid field position.
“We had 84 plays. That shows that we were moving the ball and fighting and getting first downs,” Spavital said of the TCU contest. “But we kept stalling out. What summarized the entire game is we couldn’t finish. It reminded me of the Virginia Tech game. We got put in some backed up situations. Our average starting field position was the minus-eight-yard line. We had five drives where we overcame it and I loved how we punched it out and moved it a little bit. But you’ve gotta finish those drives once you start getting into the red zone. We had 12 drives overall and only got in the red zone three times.”