WVU Faces New Test in Klein, KSU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

WVU Faces New Test in Klein, KSU

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MORGANTOWN -

West Virginia will face a team on Saturday with a far better pedigree than what waited for it in West Texas a week ago.

Perhaps knowing the test is perceived to be more difficult will prompt the Mountaineers to pick up a sense of urgency that did not exist heading into Game 6.

The attitude head coach Dana Holgorsen saw from his team even before arriving in Lubbock was one that would be alarming to a head coach, and one that he does not believe will rear its head again this season.

"I had a lot of guys that wanted it to be easy because we just went through two hard games against Baylor and Texas," Holgorsen said Tuesday. "We won close games and a couple of shootouts and had a whole bunch of people on that airplane that wanted it to be easy. That is not reality in the Big 12. It is not reality in college football."

It is certainly not a reality when the Kansas State Wildcats come to Morgantown, bringing with them a team that Holgorsen calls "the most disciplined team I have seen in a long time on all three sides of the ball."

The challenge Kansas State presents is unlike many of the teams West Virginia will face in the Big 12. Pass-happy offenses have dominated the conference in recent memory, but with Collin Klein under center, the Wildcats bring a new look with the spread option.

The senior quarterback has been more proficient with his feet this season than with his arm and the result is a dual-threat passer that can get the job done in a well-protected pocket or far outside one.

In his career, Klein has run for 43 touchdowns, while throwing for another 27. He accounts for over 60 percent of the team's total offensive output with 1,584 total yards through six games.

Some combination of athletes on West Virginia's scout team will be counted on to play the role of Klein through the week's practices. No single player will have the height, weight and athleticism of the K-State signal caller, but Holgorsen is hopeful they can replicate his tendencies well enough to feel prepared when Klein steps on Mountaineer Field.

"Nobody has one. There is only one of him that exists," Holgorsen says of Klein. "We have a couple of guys that are back there that will go in the right direction. It won't look like it, and that's a problem. But that is a problem that exists, and we have to overcome that. If you can find a 6-foot-5 guy that is big, strong and fast, he is probably not going to be on scout team."

Junior linebacker Doug Rigg is preparing for a quarterback who will force the defense to stay at home and play soundly without committing too much to either the run or the pass, knowing that Klein could just as easily change his mind in the middle of a play.

"A lot of times, he'll look like he's running the ball, then he'll pretend to run the ball but throw it deep, and he has the arm to complete it," says Rigg. "The biggest thing for us is that we have to read our keys. We can't just assume it's going to be a run and give up receivers going deep."

While singing Klein's praises, though, Holgorsen admits that the way he intends to combat the opposing quarterback is to make him throw the football. That's saying a lot based on the way WVU's defense has failed to stop many passing attacks in the Big 12, but those quarterbacks have been known for that style of ball.

The Mountaineers, who have largely been solid against the run this year, believe the best way to slow the Wildcats is to become even more stout in the box and force Kansas State to go to its receivers.

"You have to stop the run because between [Klein] and their running back, John Hubert, they rush for 200-some yards a game," says Holgorsen. "You look at them throwing the ball and it doesn't look very good, but it goes exactly where you want it to go."

Holgorsen expects a similar style of offense to what Maryland ran in game three in the sense that Kansas State will slow the tempo, huddling and trying to draw the opposition off sides before snapping the ball.

"We are going to have to do a good job of being patient and making sure that we take advantage of our opportunities," says Holgorsen.

Kansas State averages 63 plays per game to WVU's 78. The result is that the Mountaineers could have far less than last week's 91 snaps, making each one all the more important.

It will be a challenge unlike the previous six thrown at WVU and one that no opponent of the Wildcats' has figured out. Now, to save the season, that is precisely what the Mountaineers must do.

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