Oklahoma’s Riley and WVU’s motivation

Oklahoma’s Riley and WVU’s motivation

If WVU coach Neal Brown needs motivation for his team this week, perhaps a couple numbers can help.

Of course, one is 33.5. That’s how many points No. 5 Oklahoma is favored to beat the Mountaineers in Norman.

But here’s another: 5:24.

That’s all the time OU coach Lincoln Riley needed to answer all his questions on Monday’s Big 12 teleconference call.

Understand each coach has a 10-minute slot allotted for queries. It’s just that few had questions. It’s apparently considered a foregone conclusion the Sooners will roll.

Now, don’t misunderstand. Riley tried. His first question, in fact, centered on WVU.

“Good football team,” Riley replied. “Obviously, there are a lot of changes for them. The coaching staff is completely different. They lost a lot of great players from years past. But you can see there’s certainly still a lot of talent there.

“They’ve been really disruptive there defensively. I think the most yards they’ve given up has been slightly over 400. Coach (Vic) Koenning does a tremendous job defensively. He’s been doing it for a long time – and at a high level for a long time.”

Indeed, Texas’ 427 yards is the most. WVU is No. 64 nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 382.5 yards. The problem is there have been personnel subtractions and injuries. And now, this Saturday at noon ET, the Mountaineers face an Oklahoma team No. 1 nationally in total offense (621.7) and passing efficiency, No. 3 in scoring offense (50.2) and No. 5 in rush offense and passing offense.

On the flip side, WVU is No. 114 in total offense (326.2), while OU is No. 41 in total defense.

“I’ve got a ton of respect for (Mountaineer head coach) Neal Brown and (offensive coordinator) Matt Moore, the way those guys operate, the way they coach offense,” Riley said. “You see they’ve progressively gotten better throughout the year. We’ve had a lot of battles with West Virginia through the years. This will be another.”

Apparently, not many believe that to be the case. While Brown was asked on his segment about Big 12 Newcomer of the Week Jalen Hurts (366 total yards in the 34-27 win over Texas) and Offensive Player of the Week CeeDee Lamb (who scorched the Longhorns for 171 receiving yards and three TDs), among others, Riley was asked about the coin flip against UT.

Even the return of Mountaineer QB Austin Kendall, who transferred from Norman, was downplayed because of health concerns. Brown called Kendall questionable.

“I think a lot of Austin and his family,” Riley said. “It was a pretty quick recruiting process because I’d just gotten here, but I got to know them pretty well. He did a great job for us. I thought he really improved through the years. He’s a tremendous kid that comes from a great family. I’m excited to see him get a chance to play with Neal and those guys. He’s obviously done a good job. I hope the best for him with his health.”

Considering WVU’s injury problems and youth, of course, Saturday’s game does set up as a mismatch. Brown said he’ll have a better snapshot of his team’s injury picture Tuesday, but “a lot of guys are up in the air.”

For Riley, most, it seems, think he simply has to bring his players down from the clouds after defeating rival UT.

“We’ve got to get past it,” Riley said of the Texas game. “It was a big game, but it was one game. It’s over. The one thing with a Texas game is there will be a huge overreaction one way or the other, whether you win or lose. We have a good football team coming to town Saturday at (noon) and we better have a great week of preparation if we want to be ready to play. That’s going to be our mindset.”

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