Getting to know: West Virginia football
The University of Kansas football team will have a tough test this weekend.
Kansas (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) travels to No. 9 West Virginia (4-0, 2-0) for the third conference game of the season. KU is coming off a 48-28 loss to Oklahoma State, while WVU claimed a 42-34 win over Texas Tech last weekend.
“We’ve got a big challenge ahead of us, but we’re looking forward to it,” head coach David Beaty said. “We feel like we’ve got some things shored up, and we’re going to go up to West Virginia and plan on having a fun day.”
The Mountaineers are averaging 42.3 points per game, which is good for 21st in the nation. They have the ninth-best total offense in all of college football, averaging 531.3 offensive yards per game. The Jayhawks, meanwhile, are boasting the top turnover margin (2.40) in the FBS this season.
Kansas travels to West Virginia at 11 a.m. Saturday.
BREAKING DOWN WEST VIRGINIA:
Quarterback — Entering the season, senior Will Grier was a serious Heisman candidate. His numbers are certainly prolific through four games, as he thrown for 1,487 yards and 17 touchdowns on 136 attempts. Grier leads the nation in touchdowns per game, while ranking fifth in the nation with a .747 completion percentage.
Running backs — As a team, West Virginia is averaging 158.5 rushing yards per game. The backfield features four different options, as “or” is listed three different times on the team’s depth chart. Juniors Kennedy McKoy and Martell Pettaway are the top two options, combining for 436 yards on a total of 71 carries between the two players. True freshman Leddie Brown is averaging 47.2 yards per game.
Receivers — The Jayhawks will have their hands full trying to slow down this passing attack, particularly the strength of the receiving unit. Senior David Sills V has 23 catches for 294 yards and five scores. He needs four more touchdowns to tie Tavon Austin for second place on the all-time list. Marcus Simms (24) and Garry Jennings Jr. (22) have also caught at least 22 passes for 433 yards and 311 yards, respectively.
Offensive line — Senior Yodney Cajuste continues to hold down the left tackle spot on West Virginia’s offensive line. Sophomore Josh Sills is slated to start at left guard, and junior Matt Jones is the team’s starting center. Junior Colton McKivitz is expected to start at right tackle. Those four players have combined to make 80 career starts. Chase Behrndt or Joe Brown will be inserted at right guard.
Defensive line — Junior Reese Donahue and senior Jabril Robinson are expected to hold down the defensive end spots. Senior Kenny Bigelow Jr. has been the team’s starting nose tackle through four games. As a team, West Virginia has recorded eight sacks in four outings. Both defensive ends have been credited with one sack thus far.
Linebackers — JoVanni Stewart, Dylan Tonkery and David Long Jr. make up the linebacker unit for the Mountaineers. Long is leading the team with 46 total tackles, including 8.5 stops for a loss. Tonkery is third on the team in tackles with 21, and has forced a fumble. West Virginia is allowing 17.8 points per game, which is good for 20th in the nation.
Secondary — Juniors Keith Washington Jr. and Josh Norwood are slotted in at the cornerback spots. Toyous Avery Jr., Dravon Askew-Henry and Kenny Robinson Jr. are also involved in the secondary. Askew-Henry, who has 43 career starts under his belt, has recorded 176 total career tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS — Kicker Evan Staley and punter Billy Kinney lead the special teams in 2018. Staley is 3 of 5 on field goals attempts, and ranks No. 8 in Big 12 overall scoring. Kinney has only punted nine times this season, in which he has averaged 41.4 yards per punt.
FUN FACT — The Kansas defense will have the tough task of trying to get WVU off the field. West Virginia is converting 59 percent (27 of 46) of its third-down attempts this season. That is the best clip in the conference and ranks No. 4 in the nation.
VEGAS SAYS… According to Bovada, West Virginia is a 28-point favorite over Kansas as of Friday afternoon. That may seem like a lot of points, but the Mountaineers have an average margin of victory of 32.6 points over their last three meetings with the Jayhawks. As a result, I’m willing to sacrifice that many points in this one.
Prediction: West Virginia 49, Kansas 14
Record against spread: 4-1