West Virginia might have erased some of the hype surrounding a potential matchup of two top five ranked Big 12 teams when it was blown out by Texas Tech last weekend, but coach Dana Holgorsen says Kansas State will be its biggest challenge this year.
Three games into its first season in the Big 12, the Mountaineers have proved they could outscore Baylor and Texas, but couldn’t beat the stingy defense and similar air raid style offense of Texas Tech.
Holgorsen, who helped develop the air raid offense at Texas Tech from 2000 to 2007 and spent one year coaching the powerful offense at Oklahoma State in 2010, is no stranger to K-State coach Bill Snyder, and expects a lofty challenge when his team hosts the Wildcats this Saturday in Morgantown, WVa.
“I am very familiar with Coach Snyder and what he was able to do during his tenure at Kansas State,” Holgorsen said. “They are very, very tough. This will be our biggest challenge of the year, no question. They are extremely disciplined, and it doesn’t matter if it’s offense or defense or special teams.
“Their whole program is built around being mentally tough, physically tough, disciplined and with a tremendous amount of effort. Any coach at any level could turn on their tape and be appreciative of how they coach their kids.”
Despite a somewhat anemic look to their offense last weekend against Texas Tech, Holgerson insists there is nothing wrong with Geno Smith, nor the offensive gameplan.
And he said they will stay the course offensively this weekend.
“We will go about (Kansas State) the same way we did the previous five games when we won,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what we are doing offensively. We just had a bad game. I don’t think anybody else in the history of football was able to put up the numbers we were on a very, very consistent basis.”
“We gotta find other ways to find other guys able to step up. We have to be able to find ways to win games in other ways such as special teams and defense.”
Holgorsen was very complimentary, as are all coaches in the Big 12, of Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein and the job he does of running the K-State offense.
With his knowledge of what Snyder has been able to do with his teams in the past, and what his offenses do, the West Virginia coach knows they have to keep K-State from playing their game of controlling the football, and ultimately the clock.
“It all starts with Collin Klein, who does a great job of taking care of the football,” he said. “Their skill guys do a great job of taking care of the football. But having the understanding that they are going to try to control the clock doesn’t change our job defensively. Our job is to stop the run, create turnovers and try to get off the field.”
The situation of this game is very comparative to what a then-undefeated Kansas State team went into last season when they hosted an Oklahoma team, fresh off its first loss of the season to, of all teams, Texas Tech.
Despite those similarities, Snyder said it doesn’t make a difference in his mind.
“To compare the two, maybe some of the circumstances are somewhat similar, but I’m just not a strong believer that anything impacts the upcoming ballgame other than your preparation,” he said. “That’s kind of what we’re focused on, not anything that’s happened in the previous five or six games we’ve played, or anything last year.”
Even though Texas Tech seemingly found a way to slow down the powerful West Virginia offense, Snyder said it doesn’t necessarily provide a blueprint of how to beat the Mountaineers.
He said it will take a good defensive performance and a solid pass rush to reproduce the results from last Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.
“Texas Tech, obviously, did a very nice job,” Snyder said. “Part of it was the fact that (they’re) not just playing well defensively, but that they played very well up front, and changed up some things against West Virginia. Their offense was productive as well and consequently West Virginia didn’t get their hands on the ball as much as in previous ballgames.”