West Virginia's goal is to keep it simple

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Halfway through the season, the West Virginia football team is going back to basics.

During an off week, the coaching staff drilled fundamentals and technique in preparation for a homecoming date with No. 16 Texas Tech today at Milan Puskar Stadium.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen expects a "very festive atmosphere" in Morgantown, and the Mountaineers (3-3, 1-2 Big 12 Conference) are counting on a wave of hometown support to gain an edge on the unbeaten Red Raiders (6-0, 3-0).

"The challenge is large, but I can assure you we are up for the challenge and will put our best foot forward," Holgorsen said.

The Mountaineers were routed, 73-42, by current No. 12 Baylor when they previously stepped on the field two weeks ago. The lopsided result was the second 30-plus-point loss in the past three games and was the second-most points allowed in program history.

Scouting report

  • Matchup:

    West Virginia (3-3, 1-2 Big 12) vs. Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0), noon today, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.Va. The Red Raiders are favored by 51/2 points.

  • TV, Radio, Internet:

    Fox Sports 1, Mountaineer Sports Network, Sirius 172, XM 192.

  • West Virginia:

    Is 3-3 for the first time since 1995. ... Defense has 15 takeaways through six games, five fewer than in the entire 2012 season. ... WR Kevin White had a career-high 130 yards and two touchdowns against Baylor.

  • Texas Tech:

    Is one of 14 unbeaten Division I-A teams. ... Offense, rotating three QBs because of injuries, averages 41.8 points per game. ... Coach Kliff Kingsbury is the first coach in school history to start 6-0 in his debut season.

  • Hidden stat:

    Texas Tech has run more than 100 offensive plays in back-to-back weeks. West Virginia is averaging just 71.8 offensive snaps per game and hasn't eclipsed 90 this season.

"It's very disappointing, because I felt we got better and better for the first five games, then I felt we took two steps backwards against Baylor," defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said. "Now we just kind of hit the restart button and are trying to get off on the right foot again."

The defense returns starting middle linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, the leading tackler through the first three games, after a hamstring injury sidelined him for the past three.

On offense, the operative word is "simplify."

Holgorsen has yet to name a starting quarterback -- he will choose between juniors Clint Trickett and Paul Millard with redshirt freshman Ford Childress inactive with a torn pectoral muscle.

Trickett has been rehabilitating a shoulder injury but is available and still listed at No. 1 on the depth chart. A transfer from Florida State this summer, Trickett struggled with communication in his two starts and said coaches worked over the off week to simplify sideline signals.

Holgorsen said the offense must "establish the run and be more physical up front," a common refrain from a first half of the season that saw defenses barrel over and through the offensive line.

This Big 12 meeting is Texas Tech's first visit to Morgantown.

The all-time series is 1-1, with West Virginia taking a 7-6 victory in the Sun Bowl Jan. 1, 1938 in El Paso, Texas, and the Red Raiders winning, 49-14, a year ago in Lubbock.


Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt. First Published October 18, 2013 8:25 PM


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