MORGANTOWN - For months West Virginia senior offensive lineman Josh Jenkins, and his Mountaineer teammates, has been waiting No. 9 WVU's Big 12 opener.
That wait will end at noon on Saturday when No. 25 Baylor University pays its first-ever visit to Morgantown.
"They've got a lot of good players," said Jenkins, who missed the entire 2011 campaign recovering from knee surgery. "The more and more I study film on them, the more I learn."
A process which will hopefully keep the former-Parkersburg High School standout and his fellow offensive linemen from making the mistakes they made during the Mountaineers' 31-21 victory over Maryland a week ago.
"I don't think we made that many mistakes," explained Jenkins. "Overall, I thought the line did a pretty good job. There were a couple of times when we could have done a better job of picking up the blitz, but they (Maryland) did a good job of changing up their blitzes."
Senior quarterback Geno Smith was still able to complete 30-of-43 attempts for 338 yards and three touchdowns, but was sacked twice for 16 yards in losses. More importantly, the Terrapins' strategy wrecked havoc on a Mountaineer running attack missing its top performer - senior Shawne Alston.
"It (not having Alston) hurt," said senior center Joey Madsen. "We like having that big back back there running over people. It was sad not seeing him out there. With him, you are able to run the ball more."
Alston, who has rushed for 185 yards and three touchdowns on 30 attempts, should be back in the lineup to take on a Bears' prevent unit that is surrendering 177.7 yards per game on the ground.
"He (Alston) is day-to-day," said head coach Dana Holgorsen. "He didn't practice much last week, and he could have played a little bit more on Saturday, but he didn't practice Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, so we thought that it was in our best interest not to play him.
"It is a long season, and if you are not healthy enough to practice during the week, they you're probably not going to play on Saturday. That was our stand with that. He was an emergency guy and got in a few times. He will need to practice today, tomorrow and Thursday at a high level to count on him playing Saturday.
"Do I expect that will happen? Yes, I do."
If Alston is unable to go, West Virginia's running game will be built around sophomore Andrew Buie, who has 144 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries, and Smith. Although it is also possible to see senior Tavon Austin, who has 84 yards on only six carries, in the backfield more if the Mountaineers are in need of a speed back.
Sophomore Dustin Garrison, who played sparingly against Maryland and is still not 100 percent following successful knee surgery following the Orange Bowl, could also see more playing time against the Bears.
The threat of a running game could go a long way in slowing down a Baylor pass rush that has proven effective at times during the Bears' three-game winning streak.
"They're like Maryland," continued Madsen. "They have some speed guys, and some guys who come off the ball and will push and pull you a lot. We're game planning for that."