4 reasons why Texas football can dominate West Virginia in Week 5

Bijan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Jay Janner-USA TODAY NETWORK
Bijan Robinson, Texas football Mandatory Credit: Jay Janner-USA TODAY NETWORK /
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Texas’ offensive line is one of the best that West Virginia has faced this season

West Virginia hasn’t faced very many good offensive lines all season long. The four teams that the Mountaineers faced to open up the regular season are the Pitt Panthers (89.1 pass-blocking effectiveness rating), Kansas (90.1), FCS Towson Tigers, and Virginia Tech Hokies (89.6) are all decent offensive lines at best in pass protection.

Texas has registered an effectiveness rating in pass protection so far this season of 90.7. That pass-blocking effectiveness rating was actually much higher until Texas had some issues in pass pro last weekend in the second half against Texas Tech.

But that problem had something to do with Texas Tech loading the box on more pass-play situations in the second half. Quarterback Hudson Card also held onto the ball for too long at times down the stretch in that game.

Moreover, Texas is about to face a West Virginia 4-2-5 defense that emphasizes speed in space and versatility to adjust to limit opposing offenses in the pass and the run game. West Virginia takes the sam linebacker and moves him out to a hybrid safety position that is supposed to be able to cover enough space to work as an extra capable defender in pass coverage but also come up into the box and be a stalwart in run defense when needed.

West Virginia didn’t get as much as they needed out of the hybrid spear position last season, though. And they’re other hybrid position in this defense, the bandit hybrid linebacker was also a revolving door in the last two seasons. That has created some uncertainty and inconsistency that translates to all parts of the defense. That is true when it pertains to the pass rush.

Yet, West Virginia might find it difficult to drum up additional pressure on the quarterback this weekend without sacrificing valuable defensive assets elsewhere. West Virginia ranks in the middle of the road in the Big 12 in terms of team sack percentage, a little bit south of 6.5 percent. West Virginia also struggled last weekend to drum up pressure on Virginia Tech, registering a team sack rate of just 2.7 percent.

West Virginia has struggled to get pressure on the opposing quarterback when facing above-to above average Power Five offensive lines in pass pro (i.e. Kansas and Virginia Tech). Texas does boast at least an average Power Five offensive line, thus making it challenging to see a path for West Virginia to consistently get pressure on the Longhorns quarterback.

Defensive tackle Dante Stills is West Virginia’s best pass rusher, with three sacks on the season so far. But West Virginia’s next two best pass-rushers rank in the bottom half of the Big 12 both in terms of pass rush grade and pressure rate, between senior defensive end Tajih Alston and redshirt sophomore defensive end Sean Martin.

West Virginia has a below-average pass rush in the Big 12, and that becomes even more apparent when this 4-2-5 scheme is put to the test against some of the more competent offensive lines they’ll face this season. The combination of decent pass pro from the interior offensive line with a strong showing from the offensive tackle duo of Kelvin Banks and Christian Jones so far this season should be more than enough to neutralize a spotty at best pass rush from the Mountaineers.