By JOHN RABY
Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson will come in handy for the Longhorns’ first trip to West Virginia.
Not only has the Texas defense been solid during a five-game winning streak that coincided with Robinson rejoining the team, he knows all about playing in Morgantown.
On Saturday night, the Longhorns (6-2, 5-0 Big 12) will make their first trip to the Eastern time zone since 2007 and debut in a noisy venue where West Virginia (4-5, 2-4) is 3-1 this season.
“Greg Robinson will be a really good resource for us this week, because he coached at Syracuse and they were in the Big East with West Virginia, so he’s been there a lot and we’ll lean on him heavily,” Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Robinson was head coach at Syracuse from 2005-08, going 0-4 against West Virginia. He’s helped Texas rebound from a 1-2 start since being hired in September after Brown fired second-year coordinator Manny Diaz.
The questions raised about Brown’s job after back-to-back losses to BYU and Mississippi have eased since Texas is now in the thick of battling for a BCS berth.
Texas, which can move past No. 5 Baylor into sole possession of first place with a win, has allowed just 40 total points in the last three games. During its winning streak, the Longhorns have scored 30 or more points each time.
“It’s fun to watch the guys handle the adversity, pull together when everybody says they were through, come back, fight and overcome all of the things they had overcome,” Brown said. “And now they’ve got to handle success and we’ve got to improve.”
West Virginia’s chances of making a splash in the Big 12 ended long ago. But the Mountaineers are still looking to become bowl eligible in their three remaining regular-season games. They’d also like to throw a wrench into Texas’ championship dreams.
“It is going to be fun,” said West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen. “I think everyone knows that, and it will be a good time. We know that and our guys will not need extra motivation this week. They are a physical team. Probably the most physical team we have played up until this point.
TRICKY TRICKETT: West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, who will make his sixth straight start on Saturday, overcame a poor third quarter by throwing two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter of a 30-27 overtime win last week over TCU. That’s the type of season the Florida State transfer who’s still learning Holgorsen’s system has endured — one minute he’s excelling, the next he could be floundering. “He does not always understand what we are talking about, or where we want him to go with the ball, but he reacts well to the game of football and coaching well,” Holgorsen said.
TURNOVER BATTLE: Both of West Virginia’s conference victories have come when the Mountaineers won the turnover battle. TCU had four turnovers that led to 20 points for West Virginia last week. And Oklahoma State had four turnovers in a 30-21 loss to the Mountaineers on Sept. 28. Entering this week, West Virginia has recovered 13 fumbles, third most in the Bowl Subdivision, and Texas was close behind with 11, including Chris Whaley’s 40-yard fumble return for a touchdown against Kansas last week. The Longhorns have lost the turnover battle just once this season, and that was against Kansas. But Texas quarterback Case McCoy has had four interceptions in the last two games.
RUN IF YOU CAN: West Virginia’s hopes on offense rest with Charles Sims, the Big 12’s third-leading rusher at 84 yards per game. He’s coming off a season-high 154 yards last week against TCU. Texas has allowed just one 100-yard rushing effort during its winning streak.
CHILLY CLIMATE: Texas and West Virginia are meeting for only the third time, with both previous games in Austin, Texas. Texas has been checking the weather forecast, which calls for temperatures in the 40s in Morgantown. Brown is taking the high approach to playing in a chilly atmosphere. “Our big guys will like that after all the sun and the heat they play in in Texas,” he said.
STRIPE THE STADIUM: West Virginia fans are being asked to wear gold or blue, depending on their seat locations. It’s the school’s second “Stripe the Stadium” promotion. The first occurred last year in West Virginia’s Big 12 debut when the Mountaineers beat Baylor 70-63 in the highest scoring game in league history.