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October 13, 2012

W. Virginia to test Tech’s defense

LUBBOCK, Texas — Dana Holgorsen won’t be nostalgic today when he brings his No. 5 Mountaineers to Texas Tech, where he and Mike Leach drove opponents batty with their dizzying pass-heavy offense.

“All those feelings and emotions have gone away a long time ago,” the Mountaineers second-year coach said of his eight years in Lubbock. “I’m not going to think twice about it.”

Holgorsen’s thoughts will be on how to keep his Mountaineers unbeaten as they try to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 title in their first year in the conference. Much of that will depend on the performance of quarterback Geno Smith, who comes into the game with 24 touchdowns, 1,996 yards and no interceptions. He’s completed 81 percent of his 204 pass attempts this season.

West Virginia (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) got out of Austin last week with a 48-45 victory over Texas, with Smith throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns. The Red Raiders (4-1, 1-1) are hoping to rebound after falling 41-20 to Oklahoma in a game that saw quarterback Seth Doege throw three interceptions.

Smith and one of his favorite receivers, Tavon Austin, make West Virginia’s offense look a little like backyard football, said D.J. Johnson, a safety on Texas Tech’s top-ranked pass defense.

“They really understand each other as far as receiver-quarterback,” the senior said. “So what we’re really going to have to do is make them eliminate his key receivers and make him take more time to really figure out what he’s going to have to do. So take away those first reads, those initial reads, and give our D-line and linebackers time to get there and make plays.”

Smith holds the Red Raiders’ defense in high regard and knows the crowd will be as boisterous or more than last weekend’s in Austin.

“They really make things complex with the way they react to the ball,” the 6-foot-3 senior said of Texas Tech’s defense. “They do a great job of reading the quarterback’s eyes and reacting to the ball.”

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