Five questions with Allan Taylor, West Virginia beat writer for MetroNews
1. I know there were always some questions about West Virginia’s defense, but no one expected things to fall apart in this manner — and so abruptly — beginning with that Texas Tech game. How stunned have people around Morgantown been?
Disregard the 42-12 win over FCS opponent James Madison, and WVU is allowing 45.1 points per game. Watching it first-hand, it seems worse. That’s because the Mountaineers have tended to pay colossally for their misalignments, misreads and missed tackles. While youth has been a factor, there are also four senior starters who have been inconsistent or invisible at times. While fans anticipated seeing more shootouts in the Big 12, this defense already has set an abysmal benchmark: allowing the most points in WVU history and they’re still three games from the regular-season finish line.
2. What would a win over Oklahoma on Saturday do for West Virginia’s mental state, both as it finishes out this season and as it moves into next season?
At this point, a win over Oklahoma Panhandle State would justify a parade, so knocking off the storied Sooners would do wonders for the players’ psyche. Plus, it removes the question of bowl-eligibility, something that could really tighten up the team if it’s still sitting on five wins when Kansas visits Dec. 2.
3. Which of these four losses has been the most devastating to West Virginia players? Coaches? Fans?
The 49-14 embarrassment at Texas Tech was startling because (1) it erased any fanciful notions that WVU could contend for a BCS title and (2) West Virginia didn’t seem to compete.
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