Q&A With Texas Beat Writer - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Q&A With Texas Beat Writer

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia University will play its first Big 12 road game Saturday at Texas. This game will pit two teams in the top ten of the latest Coaches' Poll. West Virginia is No. 7 while Texas checks in at No. 9.

We caught up with Carter Strickland of ESPN's HornsNation for a little Q&A about the Longhorns.

SCOTT GRAYSON: How would you evaluate the play of Texas Quarterback David Ash? What is he doing better now than he did prior to the season opener?

CARTER STRICKLAND: Ash has become more consistent and willing to throw the ball away when he has to. He still does not throw a great deep ball. But the receivers have adjusted to what he is doing and they have picked up five pass interference calls on underthrown balls. He is to the point now where if you do not get an adequate pass rush on him he is going to be able to throw for 300-plus yards.

SCOTT GRAYSON: How do you see the Texas defense matching up against this West Virginia offense? I am guessing the Longhorns will hold them to less than 70 points.

CARTER STRICKLAND: The Texas defense has tackling issues. They have missed double digit tackles in their last two games. Now what they do well is stop people in the red zone. They held Oklahoma State to field goals on three trips and that was absolutely crucial in the win. But if linebacker Jordan Hicks continues to be out, the Longhorns could have some alignment issues that lead to big plays for WVU.

SCOTT GRAYSON: Running Back Malcolm Brown is ruled out of the game against WVU due to a sprained ankle. What does the loss of Brown do to the Texas running attack? How do you think it will affect the Longhorns?

CARTER STRICKLAND: Brown is the best all-around back Texas has but running back is also the deepest position on the roster. Johnathan Gray, the top running back recruit in 2012, has shown that he has the ability to hit the hole and make explosive plays. Couple that with the interior running of Joe Bergeron and Texas should be fine. There might a be few more speed sweeps with Daje Johnson and D.J. Monroe. But overall the loss of Brown does not change the Texas game plan that much.

SCOTT GRAYSON: Texas obviously has a very good running game. What makes the running attack so successful?

CARTER STRICKLAND: The variety of ways in which they can attack you with the run. Texas' three main running backs, Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Johnathan Gray, all do different things well. Bergeron is a tough inside runner. Brown gets to the outside. And Gray is the best at cutting against the grain, seeing a hole and exploiting it. Added to that is Daje Johnson and D.J. Monroe. They are two of the fastest guys on the team and very adept at jet sweeps. So that keeps a defense off balance.

SCOTT GRAYSON: Do you think the winner of this game wins the Big 12 title? Do you see the winner of this game or any Big 12 team going undefeated in conference play?

CARTER STRICKLAND: I think the Big 12 is going to be a hot, jumped mess at the end of the season. Could be a lot of one-loss teams. The November game against OU for WVU will be huge. And the December game for Texas and Kansas State will be big as well. The race should come down to the last weekend.

SCOTT GRAYSON: Time for a prediction. How do you see this game playing out? Got a score in mind?

CARTER STRICKLAND: Points will be scored. Not as many as last weekend. But Texas has proven it can now score with anyone. But it also cannot stop anyone. I give Texas a slight edge because they are at home, 45-42.

West Virginia and Texas will meet Saturday night in Austin, Texas. More than 100,000 fans are expected to pack the stadium for this huge Big 12 matchup.

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