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[2023] Big XII Network Week 2 Preview: Marathon Week, Part II

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Saturday Evening


:wvu: West Virginia (0-1) at :uva: East Virginia (1-0) (-9)


Evening begins with one objective in the nation's most exciting conference: conquer the Commonwealth. West Virginia continues the tradition of playing East Virginia every odd-numbered year (except for 2013), and they've won all four bouts so far. In order to make it five, they'll need to pierce an East Virginia defense that ranked 3rd in points per game last season and shut out South Alabama in their opener last week. This remains a very good defense, but after some serious attrition it's also become a very young defense. Gone is Ashton Evans and his 9 interceptions. Gone are defensive ends Steven Proctor and Samuelu Lealofi and their combined 11 sacks and 7 tackles for loss. In fact, gone are 7 of the 11 players who made a statsheet on defense last season. But remaining is Soldier Brooks, and that's a pretty big deal. He had 61 tackles (6 for loss), 2 pass breakups, and 3 forced fumbles last season. In front of him are a pair of very talented freshman defensive linemen: defensive end Jamir Woodson and nose tackle Kareem Gaston each had a sack and a tackle for loss against South Alabama. (Woodson also stripped South Alabama quarterback Carter Hill.) On either sideline is a talented cornerback, as both Jaylin Fulton and Bucky Drake had an interception last week. That's a few potential pitfalls, but careful planning can make most of them a manageable issue. East Virginia starts freshmen at both outside linebacker positions, sophomores at the other defensive end spot and at will linebacker, and neither safety inspires much confidence. As long as the West Virginia offensive line holds up, you have to like Martin Lake-to-Corey Easley against this secondary. That was also the case week 0 against East Virginia Tech, though, until Trevor McKinney decided otherwise. The Cavaliers don't have a defensive back of his caliber, but Soldier Brooks can take over a game too. So if West Virginia can run the ball even with Soldier Brooks lurking, then their offense is going to get whatever it wants. If they can't, it's going to be on its heels. If they split the difference, West Virginia's defense is no slouch either. They did have a bit of an explosiveness problem, giving up a 41-yard carry to Victor Ross and a long touchdown catch to Brandon McGowan. East Virginia's an offense with playmakers. Mike Lucas was a 62.8% passer last year with 3209 yards, 25 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions, and the trio of Jude McCain, Damian Hector, and tight end DeAndre Streeter give him three very big targets with good hands. (I do mean very big; they're all 6-4 or 6-5.) They also have newly minted starter Robert Green, who had 121 yards, a touchdown, and a 44-yard scamper against South Alabama. He's got afterburners. I'm just not confident East Virginia can block for him because 2 sacks and 2 tackles for loss allowed against South Alabama isn't a good look--but if they can, this offense's explosiveness is worrisome. Worrisome enough for me to pick the Cavs.


:uva: East Virginia 31, :wvu: West Virginia 21

:vt: East Virginia Tech (1-0) at :ou: #3/#2 Oklahoma (1-0) (-20.5)


After putting a hurting on in-state foe Tulsa, Oklahoma heads home to open their season against an East Virginia Tech team that edged West Virginia back in week 0. This may well be a trade convention for pass defense as well, as Trevor McKinney takes on Elijah Williams in perhaps the greatest meeting of cornerback talent since the last time Keyshawn Thompson practiced alone. Both of these teams proved capable of running the ball. Victor Ross put up 102 yards and a score on 22 carries for the Hokies, and Jaiden Douglas finished with 117 yards and two scores on his own 22 attempts. Both also showed a preference to throw it and both looked good but not great through the air. Beckett Morrison completed 60.6% of his passes for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns, but threw a pick to Bronson Stinson. Nick Brohm in his debut was at 59.4% with 204 yards and one touchdown through the air. For the Hokies, Morrison's performance was just enough; for the Sooners, Brohm's performance was basically the cherry on top of a blowout sundae. But this time, even the slightest mistake by either quarterback could turn into six points the other way with McKinney and Williams lurking in the secondary. Each already has a pick-six to their name this year, and Oklahoma also got a scoop-and-score from freshman linebacker Jeremy Small off of a Max Abel strip. That's something to zoom in on: Oklahoma has an experienced, talented, and fearsome defensive front whereas East Virginia Tech's is the opposite. The Hokies didn't give up a ton of big plays to West Virginia, but they also didn't get into the Mountaineer backfield like Oklahoma got into Tulsa's. Five sacks and three tackle for loss are an excellent performance by any defense against any offense, and they held Timothy Lima to 22 yards on 13 carries to boot. (Lima also didn't look good at all against Oklahoma State, so that could be a him problem.) Max Abel can hit the quarterback. So can Jeremiah Melvin. And David Kaiser, Tyler Baughmann, and Lorenzo Croft--that's five different rotational defensive linemen who can crush a backfield. East Virginia Tech's offensive line has good pieces like Max Elmore, but that pressure is going to get to them. That's the biggest difference between these two teams in my view. The biggest point of concern is whether the Oklahoma safeties can handle everything coming deep over the middle to Leolani Pita, Leon Marsh, and slot receiver Brandon McGowan. But East Virginia Tech also has the same issues to contend with against Lucas Dykes, Chase Reardon, Aiden Caldwell, and Tion Sproles, and Nick Brohm will have more time in the pocket to exploit those issues than Beckett Morrison will. I think East Virginia Tech will play Oklahoma tightly, but the Sooners will pull away by the end.

:ou: #3/#2 Oklahoma 34, :vt: East Virginia Tech 20

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Haha East Virginia and East Virginia Tech.  I love it!


EVA is going to be a tough game, especially in Charlottesville (makes a note to stop scheduling such a difficult OOC).  

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8 hours ago, stormstopper said:

Five sacks and three tackle for loss are an excellent performance by any defense against any offense, and they held Timothy Lima to 22 yards on 13 carries to boot. (Lima also didn't look good at all against Oklahoma State, so that could be a him problem.)


I thought we were pretty good up front but since OSU performed similarly now I'm not so sure

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