Donahue, WVU Defense Hope To Continue The Advance
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s 28-23 win at Kansas State showed the defense had taken another step.
Now it hopes to continue the advance. The Mountaineers limited K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson to only 159 yards while recording two interceptions, and the strong secondary play was helped by a solid pass rush that picked up four sacks. Defensive end Reese Donahue was part of a total unit that allowed just 332 yards overall and three points over the final two quarters.
“I think we’re playing more as a team,” Donahue said. “It’s that point in the year where we’ve been around each other for so long that we know what the other person is gonna say before they say it. It’s pretty cool because I feel like we’re all clicking really well together.
Despite a subpar rushing offense – UT ranks 96th in the nation in averaging 135.3 yards per game – Texas boasts a strong passing offense led, of now, by sophomore quarterback Shane Beuchele. The Longhorns are averaging 273.9 yards per game, good for 31st in the nation and meaning Donahue and the rest of the defensive front would be well-served to replicate their strong showing in the pass rush again Saturday.
“Ultimately it comes down to the fundamentals and who’s tougher,” Donahue said. “There’s no other way to prepare for it except for the way that we do every week. When you start changing stuff up, that’s when you run into issues. You have to prepare for a I-AA team (FCS) the same as if you were going to play the top team in the country. It has to be the same every week. You have to bring the same intensity, mentality, mindset, everything.”
At a glance, playing a 5-5 Texas team at home on Senior Day might look to be an easier-than-usual series win for West Virginia. The ‘Horns, however, have held their own against powerhouse teams earlier in the season, losing 27-24 against then-No. 4 USC in double overtime on the road, falling 29-24 against the top team in the Big 12 in Oklahoma, and allowing just 13 points in a 13-10 loss to Oklahoma State, a team that scored 50 points against West Virginia in Morgantown.
“They can hurt you,” Donahue said of a Texas offense that averages 30 points per game. “They’re a pretty impressive team, and they’re doing something right down there. You have to respect your opponent, and I definitely respect them. You have to approach it just like any other game; you can’t change anything.”
Saturday’s game marks the end of an era for West Virginia’s 20 seniors such as team captains Al-Rasheed Benton and Eli Wellman and many others. One last home win for them is added motivation for Donahue and the rest of the team.
“It’s important obviously,” Donahue said. “You all know how much it means for me to play for WVU. I understand by this time in their career, they’ve been here for half a decade and they’ve definitely developed that Mountaineer mentality. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to walk off that field without singing Country Roads. It’s very important. Also for some of the younger guys like myself and guys that haven’t been here for a while, it’s a way for us to say thanks for everything you’ve done for us.”