Our thanks to Matt Kirchner from The Smoking Musket for taking the time to answer these questions for us.
Testudo Times: Despite playing two lesser opponents so far this year, Football Study Hall ranks West Virginia 11th overall in S&P+, making them one of the better teams no one is talking about so far this season. How good is this WVU team and what do you think their ceiling is this season?
Smoking Musket: This is the first time I'm out and out going to say this. I think this team's ceiling is a Big 12 championship. The league is....weird this season and I think it's wide open for the taking.
Our offense has played very well despite inexperience and the defense is phenomenal. The biggest challenge will be navigating an October death march that includes trips to Norman, Waco, and Ft. Worth (SERIOUSLY). If they can get through that somewhat intact, the sky is the limit.
TT: In West Virginia's first two games, quarterback Skyler Howard has thrown five touchdowns, no interceptions and tossed 622 yards. How good is the junior signal caller and what are his biggest strengths and weaknesses?
SM: His biggest strengths so far are taking care of the football and escapability. He hasn't thrown an interception dating back to last year and that really helps in the whole winning games category.
Also, having that dual threat at QB really opens a new dimension in Holgo's offense. When you're spreading out so many receivers all over the place, that opens running lanes for the QB.
In terms of weaknesses, it's accuracy. I think he gets way too jazzed up at the beginning of games and over throws people fairly often. He tends to settle in and play well over time but it's a pattern to watch.
TT: If you were helping Maryland and Randy Edsall game plan against the Mountaineers, what weakness would you try to exploit? What is the roadmap to beating West Virginia?
SM: This is going to sound like a stock answer against Air Raid teams, but time of possession. We depend on timing and momentum and once we get going we tend to be hard to stop.
My biggest fear going in to Saturday is letting Will Likely break off a big play early that gives the Terps early mo that we can't get back.
TT: With Maryland's move to the B1G, I think having WVU on the schedule each year has been good for Maryland fans, maintaining a historic rivalry that many love. Where does the West Virginia-Maryland game rank in terms of WVU fan interest? Has it changed with the move to the Big 12?
SM: It's very big for me and I think for most of our fanbase. We don't have many regional games any more so every one counts that much more. Plus, the UMD game is always, always, always a direct barometer for how our season will go so I always have big interest.
TT: Fill in the blanks: ________________ will win on Saturday because ________________.
SM: West Virginia will win on Saturday because of turnovers. Caleb Rowe is going to sling it around and our secondary is top notch. I expect a close first half, but an early third quarter pick six turns momentum to WVU for good.