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Defensive Breakdown: Texas Longhorns

The Mountaineers return home this Saturday for its homecoming game and will face off against the 11th ranked Texas Longhorns. Led by its head coach Tom Herman, the Texas defense is full of quick and strong-hitting guys who are looking for revenge from last season's heart-wrenching loss.

Last season, Texas ranked third in the Big 12 in overall defense, allowing 392.8 yards per game, but surrendered a season-high 578 yards to the Mountaineers a year ago.

Todd Orlando is entering his third season as defensive coordinator at Texas and is supported by Craig Naivar (co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach) and Jason Washington (recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach). Texas normally runs defensive schemes with a three-man front, base nickel and sometimes employs a 3-2-6 dime package. Even though only three starters from the 2018 season returned for the 2019 season, there is no doubt that Herman and his staff have retooled for 2019. They have continued to add speed across the field and have shown that they have the ability to develop athletes quickly. It is good that Texas has recruited some depth because despite coming off a bye week, they are coming into Morgantown with a banged-up defense, especially in the secondary.

Injuries

  • Sophomore defensive back Caden Sterns suffered a knee ligament sprain in their game against Oklahoma State, and the Monday after that game Texas officials announced that he would be out four weeks. Sterns currently leads the team in tackles with 30.
  • Junior defensive back Josh Thompson broke his foot in the Oklahoma State game and will be out indefinitely. Thompson leads the team in passes defended with 3.
  • Sophomore defensive back Jalen Green dislocated his shoulder in the Oklahoma State game and is expected to be out for four weeks.
  • Freshman linebacker Marcus Tillman Jr is out for the season with an MCL sprain.

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Names to keep an eye on

  • Brandon Jones (safety) – Jones, a senior, leads the healthy players with 23 tackles, 3 tackles for loss and 1 sack. He was the team leader in tackles last season with 70.
  • Joseph Ossai (linebacker) – Ossai, a sophmore, this season currently has 21 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and leads the team with 2 interceptions.
  • BJ Foster (cornerback) – Foster, a sophomore, hasn’t played since the LSU game for the Longhorns. He has 15 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Foster is already getting attention from NFL Scouts.

The Mountaineers will have to take advantage of the Longhorns' injuries in the secondary and attack them with their passing attack and speedy receivers. Sam James and Tevin Bush will need to use their speed to get open on quick, short routes and avoid tackles to help the Mountaineers move the ball down the field. The Mountaineers run game seems to be rocking and rolling after the NC State game and Kansas game, so by establishing the run game early can open up the play action passing game when Austin Kendall needs it. I believe time of possession will be important for West Virginia and will want to keep this depleted defense on the field as long as possible to tire them out.

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