The Battle for the Black Diamond Trophy returns on Saturday when the West Virginia Mountaineers host No. 15 Virginia Tech at 12 p.m. on FS1. The Mountaineers are looking to avoid their first 1-2 start in the Neal Brown era and want to avoid going to Oklahoma next week with a chance of being 1-3.
What do the Mountaineers have to do to regain possession of the Black Diamond Trophy? Here are my three keys to the game:
Contain QB Braxton Burmeister
This is where the Virginia Tech offense starts and ends. Burmeister is the best dual-threat quarterback West Virginia will see all year long. His speed really stands out but he also has a very strong arm and can beat you downfield with deep balls. A player of his caliber is going to make plays, you just can't allow him to make plays that beat you. This means get off the field on 3rd down and if you have him stopped, you can't afford to have him slip out of trouble and break tackles. West Virginia is going to have to play extremely well on the perimeter to be able to slow him down.
Offensive line wins in the trenches
The Mountaineer offensive line has not lived up to expectations through the first two games of the season, plain and simple. This is where most games are won and lost. Virginia Tech's defensive line may be one of the top units WVU will see throughout the course of the season and they are going to have to protect at a high level for QB Jarret Doege. Aside from pass protection, they need to also do a better job of getting to the second level and hitting linebackers to open up more running lanes for running back Leddie Brown. Someone aside from Zach Frazier has to step up and have a solid game - tackles Brandon Yates and Parker Moorer in particular.
Stay ahead of the sticks
This WVU offense has a tendency to put themselves into 2nd and longs and 3rd and longs often. You aren't going to win many football games having to convert multiple 3rd & 12's or longer in a game. West Virginia needs to establish the run game with Leddie Brown and get the ball out of Doege's hands fast with quick routes underneath. This will draw the defense in and allow WVU to take a couple of shots down the field. It also gives you a better chance to get into 3rd and manageable situations.
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