Holgorsen Advises To Eye Texas’ Talent & Experience Rather Than Record
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia’s Senior Day will provide among the greatest of challenges this season.
Though just 5-5, Texas has been on the wrong side of a series of close scores in losses to the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Southern Cal. Be aware, WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen warned, of the talent more than the record. The Longhorns, the most wealthy program in a recruit-rich state, and the unlimited resources have stocked the roster with four- and five-start players who have started to jell under new head coach Tom Herman.
“Put everybody on high alert on this 5-5 thing,” Holgorsen said. “Those guys have lost close games to the likes of Southern Cal, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and TCU. Last time I check all those guys were in the top 15. They have done pretty much what we have done. They have a new coach and are changing some things up in scheme and culture and all that good stuff.
“The thing that looks the same is they always have the best players, period. Regardless of position. This team is no different. They are a good football team that is getting better.”
Texas has used a pair of quarterbacks this season in freshman Sam Ehlinger and sophomore Shane Buechele. Ehlinger started the first six games before suffering a concussion in mid-October. The two have alternated since then, with Beuchele taking all the snaps versus Baylor and TCU before Ehlinger got a handful of plays last week in the win over Kansas.
West Virginia isn’t sure which signal caller to expect, and that issue is compounded by the varying styles. Where Beuchele is a pocket passer who scrambles a bit, Ehlinger is a running quarterback who can throw decently. UT’s offense has been middling, averaging 29.9 points per game while struggling to run the ball at just 135 yards per game. That’s an issue, as the Longhorns run a more power-style of offense as opposed to the spread-and-shred of Baylor, OSU and Texas Tech.
The Longhorns have made their hay this season on defense, where they have allowed just 22 points and 367 yards per game on average. With a veteran unit that starts 10 upperclassmen, Texas has corralled the run game and forced opponents to throw.
“Probably the best defense we have faced all year,” Holgorsen said. “They have a whole bunch of talent. They are not rolling in a bunch of freshman out there. They have experience, somewhere in the neighborhood of about 15 juniors and five seniors in this two deep. Their scheme is challenging. They are very multiple. Can do a bunch of different things in the secondary. Can hit you with a bunch of blitzes. And they play about 25 different people.”
West Virginia, meanwhile, is entering the home finale for 20 seniors in trying to defeat Texas for a third consecutive season. The Mountaineers, at 7-3 overall, 5-2 in the Big 12, can remain mathematically in the race for the league title game with a victory.
“Last home game and Senior Day,” Holgorsen said. “Interesting class. We have 20 seniors, 10 of them are high school guys and 10 are transfers. That’s kind of been our thing, get a bunch of good high school kids in here and develop them over the course of four or five years then add a bunch of transfers, whether they are four year guys or grad transfers or junior college guys. This class has a mix of all of them.
“Everything we do this week will be about getting those guys a victory. Those guys mean a lot to me. It makes me want to put our guys in the position so we can get a win.”