Pick Mountaineers to Prolong Longhorns' Woes

West Virginia Mountaineers players in action

Rainman M.

Thursday, November 16, 2017 2:31 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 2:31 PM UTC

West Virginia (7-3) hosts Texas (5-5) Saturday at noon for its home finale. The Mountaineers are favored by a field goal. Read on for a valuable college football pick.

Free NCAAF Pick: West Virginia -3Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Texas Longhorns vs West Virginia Mountaineers  

West Virginia's offense relies most on the production of quarterback Will Grier. The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS when he throws for 350+ yards. The one non-cover came against Baylor when the Bears backdoor-covered a complacent West Virginia.

Grier is a proven performer against defenses with a high number of defensive backs. Against Iowa State's 3-3-5 or 3-2-6 Grier consistently thread the needle with his solid accuracy: he was 20/25 for 316 yards. 

Texas will likewise utilize many defensive backs, granted that, since their respectable performance against a then-struggling Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State and in the second half against Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, their secondary's depth has thinned.

Holton Hill was Texas' lockdown corner, a future 1st- or 2nd-rounder. He is suspended. Nickelback PJ Locke III and backup corner Josh Thompson are injured.

Conversely, West Virginia's depth at wide receiver is immense: Ka'Raun White, Gary Jennings and David Sills could achieve 1,000 yards each before season's end. 

Running back Justin Crawford's 5.7 yards per carry bring balance to the passing attack. He can utilize his foot speed to cut through opposing defenses.

Defensive Coordinator Todd Orlando likes to utilize various blitzes in his aggressive scheme but should struggle to reach Grier, whose pocket presence contributes to the Mountaineers ranking 16th in sack percentage allowed.

Grier, with time to throw, a massively talented receiving corps, and support from Crawford, can exploit Texas' declining secondary.

Texas' offense, under first-year offensive coordinator Tim Beck, is in disarray, although the Longhorns, perhaps due to their brand name, are constantly overrated in terms of talent.

Injuries throughout the offensive line surely contribute to Texas' ineptitude on offense, their difficulty in reaching 20 points against mediocre defenses like that of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and USC. The Longhorns rank 95th in sack percentage allowed and 111th in yards per carry. 

The Longhorns have tried to utilize a freshman quarterback, Sam Ehlinger, often as a power runner, until he suffered a concussion. They have switched back to Shane Buechele, a more developed talent with a nice arm and better accuracy, but who struggles under duress.

They have also shuffled wide receivers and running backs. Possibly their most talented wide receiver, Collin Johnson, struggles with consistency in performance and effort. At running back, the rather static Chris Warren has proven to be massively overrated, while freshman Daniel Young is struggling to carry the load, especially when defenders already meet him in the backfield.

Beck has tried to force his zone-read scheme onto this offense, but this scheme is either too complicated for Texas' offensive linemen or they are inept at the movement-heavy style of blocking required by Beck. 

But the fault is not just Beck's: it's difficult for a coordinator to just drop his offensive philosophy, especially when the quarterbacks, running backs, tight ends, wide receivers and offensive linemen keep shuffling.

Texas is struggling to find an identity on offense, develop consistency even just in terms of personnel and acclimate to a new offensive scheme on our NCAAF Picks
 

The Verdict

Texas has only one win vs a team with a winning record, Iowa State before they switched quarterbacks. West Virginia's offense is proven with its high-quality balance, while Texas lacks the tools to keep pace in Morgantown, where the Mountaineers have won 14 out of their last 16 and covered 3 of their last 4 against FBS opponents, the non-cover coming when Grier was dealing with personal distractions while playing Oklahoma State.

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