Texas looks to bounce back Saturday as West Virginia comes to town for each team’s second test in the Big 12. Both squads are also looking for their first win in conference play after the Longhorns’ loss to Texas Tech and the Mountaineers’ high-scoring loss to Kansas in Week 2. If Texas wants to avoid an 0-2 start in the Big 12, then there are some Mountaineers that players will need to be on the lookout for.
When freshman running back CJ Donaldson gets the ball in his hands, he makes it count. The 240-pound former tight end is averaging over seven yards per carry this season and is coming off a 125-yard performance in Week 4, which saw him average over 17 yards per rush.
While Donaldson has seen a split in carries with redshirt junior Tony Mathis Jr. and sophomore Justin Johnson Jr., his role should increase after his efficiency in Week 4. Texas’ recent tackling struggles will need to be addressed if the Longhorns hope to put a cap on Donaldson’s efficiency on the ground.
The West Virginia offense has shown its ability to score points in this early season. The Mountaineers have eclipsed 50 points in one of their four contests and have yet to dip below 31 points in a game this season. A large reason for this has been the play of redshirt junior and former Georgia Bulldog JT Daniels. The former five-star recruit is an accurate, pro-style passer who’s thrown for nearly 1,000 yards in four games. Daniels, who is also a former USC Trojan, will make his first appearance at DKR in nearly four years.
The Longhorns won’t have to worry about Daniels’ legs often, but the experienced quarterback could prove lethal Saturday against a Longhorn secondary that allowed 331 yards to Donovan Smith in Week 4.
Senior defensive tackle Dante Stills is an NFL-caliber player who was expected to enter the NFL Draft this spring. However, the skilled pass rusher announced in January he would be returning to Morgantown for his senior season. Stills earned All-Big 12 First Team honors in 2021, finishing first on the team in sacks (6) and in tackles for loss (13).
Stills picked up where he left off this season and leads the team with two and a half sacks to go with a forced fumble. The six-foot-four defensive tackle has the potential to feed on Texas’ youth on the offensive line, particularly on the interior.
Redshirt junior Bryce Ford-Wheaton is the leading receiver for the Mountaineers in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Ford-Wheaton has separated himself as JT Daniels’ top target and is looking to gain the same production he achieved in Week 2’s loss against Kansas. The receiver saw 11 receptions for over 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Standing at six feet, three inches tall, Ford-Wheaton’s frame — along with his skillset — makes him an instant mismatch against opposing defensive backs. The Longhorns’ secondary will have their work cut out for them Saturday if they hope to contain the explosive wideout.