Shelton Gibson

 

West Virginia’s Shelton Gibson dives for an incomplete pass last week against TCU.

The West Virginia University football team’s offense has struggled to keep pace offensively with its Big 12 opponents, starting 0-4 in conference play.

One possible reason for its hardship is because of the defenses it has faced. Oklahoma is the only top 25 FBS defense in the Big 12, allowing 321 yards a contest to its opponents. Although Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State are statistically average, they fill out the top four defenses in the conference.

West Virginia recorded over 40 points in its first three games, proving the offense is capable of putting up points. However, it’s failed to do that since and only managed 10 against TCU, its lowest total since getting shut out by Maryland in 2013.

That could change this weekend against Texas Tech, whose defense ranks among the nation’s worst. Out of 128 FBS teams, the Red Raiders rank 125th in run defense, 122nd in pass defense and 127th overall.

Yards are one thing, but it’s not been able to protect its end zone, ranking 123rd in points allowed per game with 43.4 points.

West Virginia barely breaks into the top 100 on defense despite once being pegged as one of the nation’s top units, but still ranks significantly better than Texas Tech. However, the Raiders offense currently ranks third in the country, while West Virginia comes in at 30th.

The Mountaineer offense could look a lot different, but wide receiver play has taken a hit lately with a number of drops on passes from Skyler Howard.

"The week of practice that we had prior to the last game was great, and I would say out of the four to five days leading up to the game there was maybe three or four balls on the ground," said wide receiver coach Lonnie Galloway. "It was shocking, and we didn’t expect it to happen, but we have to move on."

Mistakes are made, but West Virginia’s mistakes have come at big moments, which surely hurts morale.

"I just tell them to shake it off. You have to keep your head up, because the ball is going to find its way back to you," senior receiver Jordan said Thompson. "If you have your head down, you are going to mess up again. You have to keep your head up, and when the opportunity strikes you have to take advantage of it."

"(Head coach Dana) Holgorsen is doing a great job of keeping everybody’s morale up," Galloway said. "Right now, the biggest thing for us is to take care of winning one game at a time."

WVU doesn’t expect a shootout against Texas Tech, but it’s hard to think that these caliber of offenses won’t put up points against the struggling defenses of these two programs.

"We don’t expect a shoot-out, because we have faith in our defense," Thompson said. "We know they’re going to score points. Texas Tech has one of the greatest offenses in the league right now. We know that we’re going to have to score points on offense, because they’re going to score points."

The difference will come from whose defense will play better and make more stops, because the offense will surely be there.