The West Virginia Mountaineers will march into Camp Randall this weekend riding the wave of a huge opening game blowout last weekend, defeating Division I-AA Tennessee-Chattanooga 56-7. Holding its opponent to a mere 150 yards of total offense, West Virginia dominated the game by posting 560 yards of its own.
Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, the competition will intensify as they face the Badgers.
Last year under first-year coach Rich Rodriguez, the Mountaineers achieved a lowly 3-8 record while competing in the difficult Big East conference and playing the likes of Miami and Virginia Tech. Rodriguez acknowledges in West Virginia University’s school newspaper that this weekend will be a lot tougher than last.
“This week we’re facing a different animal,” said Rodriguez. “We’ve got to be ready for a physical type of play that the Badgers are going to bring to us. They’re going to come right at us, and they make no secrets about it.”
The Mountaineers will rely heavily on standout running back Avon Cobourne. The 5-foot-9, 190 pound senior comes into tomorrow’s game ranked third in all-time rushing yards for West Virginia, needing only 526 yards to break the school’s record of 4,086 yards held by Amos Zereoue.
West Virginia also brings a talented young quarterback in Rasheed Marshall. Last week Marshall looked impressive in his first career start, completing 14 of 22 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns. In addition to his arm, Marshall is also threatening on the ground.
In an effort to surprise opposing defenses, WVU runs an attacking, hurry-up, no-huddle offense designed to give the defense no time to react to different formations. This strategy proved effective last week, as Marshall completed passes to 11 different receivers. The Badgers will have to audible frequently and get in position quickly if they hope to diffuse the Mountaineer offense.
Senior linebacker Angel Estrada, who had 11 tackles against Tennessee-Chattanooga, leads West Virginia’s defense. The Achilles heel of this unit is its lack of size. The Badgers’ experienced offensive line should have plenty of opportunity to open holes for the dangerous Anthony Davis. If the Mountaineers press the line of scrimmage, receivers Jonathon Orr and Darrin Charles should have plenty of room to make big plays downfield.
Wisconsin sets out tomorrow on a mission to prove its top-25 ranking. After beating Fresno State by a small margin at home in the opening weekend and displaying an inconsistent offense last Saturday, the Badgers look forward to playing up to their full ability.