WVU notebook: Holgorsen: WVU to face tough Texas hold 'em defensive
MORGANTOWN — While last week's 70-63 shootout between West Virginia and Baylor was a showdown between two fast-paced, pass-heavy offenses; when the Mountaineers travel to the southwest this weekend to take on Texas, it will be a much different look for WVU.
No. 8 West Virginia and No. 11 Texas meet at 7 p.m., Saturday, in Austin, Texas. Both teams are 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12.
The Longhorns bring a balanced offense averaging more than 47 points per game. In addition to a talented quarterback in sophomore David Ash, Texas also has a stable of three running backs who receive significant carries each game.
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen said Monday he thinks the Mountaineers match up better defensively with the Texas offense.
"Defensively, we played well against the run (against Baylor)," Holgorsen said. "Texas is obviously going to try to establish the run. It's a different type of run game -- they're going to try to use tight ends and fullbacks -- and we're going to have to adjust some things we're doing defensively to match up with that.
"We've got to continue to get better at that and then, when they put the ball in the air, we've got to do a better job of making plays on the ball."
THIRD DOWN SUCCESS: Even though the West Virginia offense had as much success as it has ever had Saturday against Baylor, a lot of the success the Mountaineers had came on third down.
WVU converted on 12 of its 15 third downs against the Bears, and the Mountaineers lead the nation in third-down conversions. West Virginia has been successful on 28 of the 46 third downs this season.
In Saturday's game West Virginia did it with balance. Senior quarterback Geno Smith completed seven of eight third-down passes for 108 yards and a touchdown and the Mountaineers ran the ball seven times on third down for 34 yards and a pair of scores.
This week, West Virginia will face a Texas team that has also been very efficient in the later downs, converting 58 percent of the time.
"The key to that is just manageable third downs," Holgorsen said. "We were a lot better on third downs this week than we were last week. We got ourselves behind the chains last week a lot. (Texas) doesn't get behind the chains very much, they just try to move the ball forward, which is the same thing we're trying to do.
"It's the same philosophy, we just may be going about it a different way."
ANOTHER THREAT: It's not very often a receiver catches 13 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown and is still looked at as the third-best receiver for his team in that game.
But that was the case with redshirt senior J.D. Woods against Baylor.
"The light came on for him in camp," Holgorsen said. "I'm proud of J.D. He stayed the course and the light came on for him. He's doing a good job in the classroom, doing a good job in the weight room and making plays on the field."
All season, Woods has talked about how he felt he was ready to step up and make plays when the team needed him to and so far he's lived up to that word.
Through the first four games Woods already has more catches than he had in his first three seasons as a Mountaineer. He's caught 27 passes for 260 yards and two scores.
"When that ball is in the air, it's my ball," Woods said. "I'm not going to let anybody else get it. I was just trying to make a play and make something happen."
His final catch Saturday was the best, an amazing one-handed grab that would have likely been intercepted and given Baylor a chance to tie the game in the final minutes.
"That was a terrible throw," Smith said. "That could have probably turned the game for us. The defensive back was in perfect position to potentially go running down the sidelines."