Drenning: Defense key in West Virginia’s upcoming Big 12 opener

Gold and Blue Nation

When West Virginia hosted Oklahoma State last November, the defense gave the Mountaineers a chance to win.

WVU held OSU to a net of 89 rushing yards, well below its season average, and kept the nation’s leading rusher Chuba Hubbard in check.

But the Mountaineers struggled to finish drives on offense, turning three red zone trips into just a pair of field goals in a 20-13 loss on senior day. 

West Virginia is set to open Big 12 play Saturday at Oklahoma State, and WVU football radio sideline reporter Jed Drenning thinks the key to upsetting the Cowboys lies in a similarly strong performance from the Mountaineer defense. 

“You’re gonna need some production from that linebacker group to offset what we’re gonna see in Stillwater,” Drenning said this weekend on The Neal Brown Show. “In the secondary, we’re gonna be tested far more than we were against EKU. Plus, they got some big boys up front that are gonna try to knock you around a little more than EKU.”

The Cowboys return Hubbard and many other key contributors from last season’s meeting. However, OSU struggled offensively in a 16-7 victory over Tulsa in its season opener Saturday, rushing for just 139 yards after averaging nearly 230 rush yards per game last fall. Hubbard was held to 93 yards on 27 carries. 

Drenning is focusing on the showdown between West Virginia’s linebackers and Oklahoma State’s ground game in this matchup. He said transfer linebacker Tony Fields already showed what he’s capable of by leading WVU in tackles in the opener, and he expects a big outing from homegrown talent Dylan Tonkery, who started at mike linebacker against EKU.

“No better time to have a couple of those guys that can both play then when you’re getting ready to square off against Chuba Hubbard,” Drenning said. 

West Virginia’s clash with Oklahoma State will begin Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. The game will be televised on ABC

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