Texas wide receiver Jerrod Heard, right, celebrates his touchdown against Iowa State with wide receiver Devin Duvernay(2) in the third quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

Football

Texas vs. West Virginia: Four questions facing the Horns

Posted November 11th, 2016

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Four questions facing Texas in Saturday’s game against West Virginia:

Texas running back D'Onta Foreman makes a touchdown run in the first quarter against Baylor at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Texas running back D’Onta Foreman makes a touchdown run in the first quarter against Baylor at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

1. What will D’Onta Foreman do for an encore?

Foreman is the nation’s second-leading rusher, coming off 250- and 341-yard performances against Baylor and Texas Tech. Those two performances set and re-set the junior’s career-best marks, and he also recorded personal highs for rushing attempts (32 against Baylor and 33 against Tech). West Virginia boasts the Big 12’s fourth-best rushing defense, and the Mountaineers have allowed three 100-yard runners. Foreman, however, did just fine against the Big 12’s best run defense when he compiled 124 yards against Kansas State and 159 yards and two touchdowns against Oklahoma.

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Texas Longhorns safety Dylan Haines tries to tackle Baylor Bears wide receiver Lynx Hawthorne but misses during the NCAA college football game, Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Texas Longhorns safety Dylan Haines tries to tackle Baylor Bears quarterback Seth Russell but misses during the NCAA college football game, Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

2. Will Texas contain Skyler Howard?

Texas’ run defense will be tested; West Virginia has its share of options in the backfield. Justin Crawford and Rushel Shell III each have rushed for more than 500 yards, and Kennedy McKoy has turned limited touches into a yards-per-carry average of 9.0. The Mountaineer with the most rushing touchdowns, though, is Skyler Howard. The senior quarterback has scored six times, averaging 3.1 yards per carry. Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes II had minus-16 rushing yards last week against the Longhorns, but Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz ran for two touchdowns and Baylor’s Seth Russell hurdled his way to a 138-yard effort.

 

Texas Longhorns wide receiver Jake Oliver makes a gain against the Baylor Bears during the NCAA college football game, Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN
Texas Longhorns wide receiver Jake Oliver makes a gain against the Baylor Bears during the NCAA college football game, Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin, Texas. RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN

3. Will the juniors or freshmen be the better test for WVU’s secondary?

Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele has plenty of targets in a receiving corps that features eight players with double-digit catches. The leaders in catches, though, are juniors Armanti Foreman (33) and Jake Oliver (23). But while the Class of 2018 is representing, the freshmen can’t be overlooked. Devin Duvernay’s 80- and 75-yard touchdown catches are Texas’ longest plays this season, and Collin Johnson’s two toe-tapping touchdowns in last week’s win over Texas Tech may just lead off the receiving room’s highlight reel. West Virginia has intercepted nine passes, and is allowing 245.8 passing yards per game.

 

Texas linebacker Anthony Wheeler(45) looks to contain Baylor running back Terence Williams(22) in the third quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)
Texas linebacker Anthony Wheeler(45) looks to contain Baylor running back Terence Williams(22) in the third quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

4. With Anthony Wheeler back, will the defense keep improving?

Texas has given up 29.2 points per game since Charlie Strong took over the defensive play-calling duties, which is impressive when you consider that the Longhorns had yielded 153 points under Vance Bedford’s four-game watch. Texas Tech earned 482 yards and 37 points in last week’s loss to Texas, which were modest numbers for an offense that entered the week with some of the nation’s top statistics. Wheeler, a sophomore linebacker who missed last week’s game because he was attending his grandfather’s funeral, still leads Texas with 60 tackles. He returns to face a Mountaineers offense that’s averaging 510.8 yards and 33.2 points per game.

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