Game Preview: WVU Goes for Second-Straight Win vs. K-State - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Game Preview: WVU Goes for Second-Straight Win vs. K-State

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Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will host No. 10 Oklahoma State at noon on Oct. 28. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy) Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers will host No. 10 Oklahoma State at noon on Oct. 28. (PHOTO: Scott Lituchy)

By Ryan Decker

West Virginia (6-3, 4-2) travels to take on Kansas State (5-4, 3-3) attempting to do something it hasn’t done since joining the Big 12 – win in Manhattan.

Last year the Mountaineers got their first-ever win against the Wildcats, and will now try to make it two wins in a row, both in the series and on the season, Saturday.

Injuries at the quarterback spot for Bill Snyder’s club has made it difficult game planning for the Wildcats according to assistant coaches earlier this week.

That’s because each presents a different problem.

First-string quarterback Jesse Ertz is the most complete of the bunch but has missed each of the last four games due to a knee injury.

Sophomore Alex Dalton has started behind center in his place. Delton is more of a threat than on the ground, though the Wildcats have just a 1-3 record in games he’s completed this season.

He was knocked out of last week’s game with concussion-like symptoms, and was replaced by redshirt-freshman Skylar Thompson, who led K-State to its largest fourth-quarter comeback road victory in team history.

Given his playing style, Delton – if healthy – could present problems for the WVU defense, as he’s a dual-threat QB that ran for 142 yards against Oklahoma earlier this year.

No matter who’s taking the snaps, Kansas State’s offense has not been explosive, though it has been balanced in terms of yards gained.

Kansas State is averaging 193 yards on the ground and nearly 185 through the air. The 378.1 yards of total offense per game is just twenty-nine yards more than what WVU quarterback Will Grier is averaging only passing the ball this season.

The Wildcat’s best option, offensively, has been running the ball. West Virginia got it’s ground game back on track last week, with Justin Crawford eclipsing 100 rushing yards for the first time in over a month.

Stopping the run on defense has been an area where the two teams have differed greatly.

Kansas State has been the third-best team in the Big 12 at stopping the run this season, giving up nearly 60 yards less per game on the ground than WVU.

However, the Wildcats have the worst pass defense in the conference.

Jayd Kirby leads the team with 8.5 tackles for loss this year, followed by Will Geary with 7.5.

Another area of difference between the two teams has been in situational football.

Although nearly as efficient on third down as the Mountaineers ­(36% – 34%), the Wildcats have been nowhere near as successful on fourth down. K-State has converted just once all year on fourth down, while WVU has a 73 percent conversion rate.

Kansas State is also turning less than 60 percent of its trips to the red zone into touchdowns. WVU, on the other hand, is doing so 72 percent of the time.

That bodes well for a WVU defense that limited Iowa State last week despite a number of injuries on that side of the ball.

After answering their head coach’s call to be tougher last week, WVU will need a repeat performance this weekend to pull off a win in the stadium named for the coach standing on the opposing sideline.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

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