Red Raiders to Invade Mountaineer Field
LUBBOCK, Texas — Ask anyone with knowledge of Big 12 football and they will tell you that there will be a lot of NFL-ready talent on the artificial surface at Milan Puskar Stadium when No. 24 Texas Tech (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) looks to snap its losing ways against unranked West Virginia (3-2, 1-1).
One of the most talented will be the Red Raiders junior wideout Keke Coutee. The 5-foot-11 speedster from Lufkin, Texas, comes to Morgantown as the Big 12 leader in all-purpose yardage following Tech’s 63-19 thumping of Kansas.
In his team’s first five games Coutee is averaging 137 yards per game — 13 running, 586 receiving and 86 on kickoff returns.
“He is definitely a weapon,” WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said during Monday’s Big 12 Teleconference. “Kliff (Kingsbury) has always done a great job with their offense, but it’s quite evident when you turn on the video that they are much improved on defense.”
But, defenses looking to game plan against Tech’s top receiver could find themselves in a lot of trouble as a new found running game — propelled by Desmond Nisby and Justin Stockton — has the Lubbock-based team ready to make its own run toward the Big 12 championship game.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there,” Kingsbury said when asked about Coutee’s availability for Saturday’s noon kickoff. “We are still hopeful that Keke will be back to full go, but we feel like we have people that can step in and get the job done.”
And, that’s were Nisby, who scored four rushing touchdowns against the Jayhawks, and Stockton come into play.
Stockton makes his final trip east ranked as the No. 6 rusher in the conference, averaging 77 yards per game while six total touchdowns puts him into a fourth place tie in the 10-team league with WVU’s Justin Crawford touchdowns. The Mountaineers’ David Sills V leads the way with nine.
Coutee, who is averaging a league-leading 117.2 yards per game receiving, is tied with WVU’s Gary Jennings Jr. with 39 catches while senior Nic Shimonek trails only OSU’s Mason Rudolph in passing yards per game with an average of 362.2 yards per game on 140-of-195 with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
But, will that be enough for Tech to erase a three-game losing streak to the Mountaineers? Not, even Kingsbury is ready to answer that question.
“I’m not sure,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve played some pretty decent teams this year. This is a team we have struggled with over the last couple of years so we need to go up there and play better.”
That means finding a way to crack Tony Gibson’s 3-3-5 defensive alignment.
“It’s been a combination of both. They (West Virginia) have done a good job of scheming people up and they have had a good run of personnel that have gone on to play at the next level.”
It also means slowing down a Mountaineer offense that possesses a number of weapons of its own.
“They are very good offensively,” Kingsbury said. “Coach (Jake) Spavital has done a great job with their quarterback (Will Grier) and their entire offense.
“Coach Gibbs has our defense playing well. We have a lot of guys who are in their second or third year in his system and we brought in a few players who have done a good job.”
But will that be enough to stop an offensive attack which is third in the Big 12 averaging 577.4 yards of total offense per game?
“The reason I hired Jake (Spavital) is because of his quarterback background,” Holgorsen said. “He’s doing a great job so far and I look forward to seeing the improvement.”
∫ The Mountaineers’ Homecoming game will be televised on ESPNU with Mike Couzena providing the play-by-play and John Congemi the analysis.
∫ Tech is the first ranked team to visit Mountaineer Field this season. Since 2002, WVU has posted 19 victories over ranked teams.
∫ Defensive lineman Lamonte McDougle and linebacker David Long Jr. earned their first starts of the season at TCU while true freshman Darius Stills made his first career appearance in WVU’s 31-24 loss to the Horned Frogs.