John Hoover

Sporting News: West Virginia at Texas Tech, the Big 12’s game of the week, could be decided by defense

Sporting News: West Virginia at Texas Tech, the Big 12’s game of the week, could be decided by defense

It’s probably too early to anoint West Virginia as the Big 12’s best defense.

The Mountaineers have yet to play Texas Tech, after all.

That showdown unfolds this Saturday in Lubbock, where the 12th-ranked Mountaineers will take on the 25th-ranked Red Raiders. It pits the Big 12’s most prolific offense (the Red Raiders average 623 yards and 52 points per game) against its stingiest defense (the Mountaineers yield just 304 yards and a nation-leading 12.3 points per game).

“I think they’re improved,” Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said this week of the Mountaineers defense. “Coach (Tony) Gibson’s always done a tremendous job defensively as a culture there. Very aggressive defense, plays physical, multiple looks.”

Some of the biggest defensive help came from outside the program. Graduate-transfer defensive linemen Kenny Bigelow and Jabril Robinson have started all three games this season. Safety Toyous Avery and cornerbacks Hakeem Bailey and Josh Norwood — all junior college transfers — have become starters in the secondary. Add them to one of the Big 12’s best linebackers in David Long, and the Mountaineers defense has made real strides.

“They’re playing at a high level,” Kingsbury said. “They’ve really gotten after people this year. Nobody’s scored on them.”

To read the rest of Sporting News’ story on the WVU-TTU matchup, click here:

John Hoover

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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