Skylar Thompson (10) passes the ball

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson passes during a fourth-quarter drive against West Virginia on Nov. 16. Thompson was named to the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch list Friday.

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson threw for 299 yards Saturday, setting a single-game personal-best for the second time in as many weeks. But it took him 39 attempts to reach that yardage total, in what turned out to be a losing effort for the Wildcats, who were upset by two-touchdown underdog West Virginia 24-20.

That Thompson finished just one throw shy of 40 wasn’t in K-State’s original game plan.

“We didn’t want to throw it that much, but we were down in the fourth quarter and had to throw it obviously a lot more at that time,” first-year K-State head coach Chris Klieman said during his time on the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday. “I don’t mind throwing it if it’s some RPO (run-pass-option) looks and we end up getting a look to throw the football.”

Aside from trying to mount a fourth-quarter comeback, Klieman said there was another reason for the Wildcats’ propensity for passing Saturday: their inability running the ball on first and second downs.

“Part of that was a good job by West Virginia on pressuring us on some first-down plays, which forced us into some more throws,” Klieman said. “Then we have to be efficient throwing the ball if we have to throw it that much.”

Thompson’s final throw Saturday was a completion — albeit to the other team. Mountaineer defensive back leaped up and picked off a pass intended for senior receiver Dalton Schoen. It marked Thompson’s second interception of the day, doubling his Big 12-low total entering the contest.

All in all, Klieman said he thought Thompson “played a really good football game” given how often he was under duress from West Virginia’s pass rush.

For now, he just wants Thompson to “move forward.” Forget about the two interceptions. Forget about the defeat.

Today is a new day.

“The one guy I’m not worried about is Skylar Thompson,” Klieman said. “He comes to battle every day in practice, on game day. (He’s a) great leader. We’ve got the right guy under center, that’s for sure.”

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