Oklahoma’s man coverage will present different look for WVU offense
Published: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 00:11
Sitting back in zone coverage and forcing the opposing quarterback to make tight throws has been the game plan for many of West Virginia’s recent opponents.
Not many blitzes have been dialed up on Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith, not many one-on-one opportunities have been available to West Virginia wide receivers and ultimately, not much offensive success have come about in these aforementioned outings.
But when the Mountaineers take the field against No. 12 Oklahoma Saturday night, the Sooners will be presenting a different look for Smith and the WVU offense.
"They’re not complicated defensively. It’s cat coverage. You know, I got that cat, you got that cat," said West Virginia offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson about the Sooners’ man coverage. "When people play man, it comes down to matchups. We have to throw and catch."
The style of play has been very effective for the Oklahoma defense, who is allowing less than 20 points per game.
The Sooners are very talented and may be the best defensive unit the West Virginia offense has faced this season.
However, the different style OU plays could work to the Mountaineers’ advantage.
"I think it’s more fun when someone plays man because you really have to work plays and try to work your route to get open," said West Virginia junior wide receiver Stedman Bailey. "It’s basically like you’re out there doing one-on-one, and you just have to make it work."
Bailey’s senior quarterback and former high school teammate Smith said last season against LSU was probably the last time a team played as much man coverage as expected from the visitors Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium.
In the game against LSU a year ago, Smith threw for more than 460 yards and two touchdowns.
He is hoping for a similar outing Saturday.
"It’s a good opportunity for our wide outs to have some one-on-one matchups. Go out there, and it’s pretty much you versus him," Smith said. "It’s up to me to (put) the ball in the right spot so those guys can come down with it.
"Teams haven’t played it really all year … It’s one of those things where they’re talented and they believe in their guys. I know we’re going to be up for the challenge."
Dawson said he doesn’t want his quarterback to be too confident entering the matchup against the Sooners. The change of pace doesn’t mean it will be easy for the Mountaineers
"Oklahoma has been good this year on defense, like they have in the past. It’s not going to be easy," Dawson said. "It really doesn’t matter (what they play). It just presents a little different challenge."
Some Mountaineers could not care less what style of defense they will face this weekend; they’re just looking forward to getting a chance to end the first four-game conference losing streak in school history.
"We’re just looking forward to playing period," said sophomore running back Andrew Buie. "We’re just ready to get a win and get something positive going for our program again."