Coach Holgorsen leads the Mountaineers into Manhattan, Kansas, tomorrow to take on Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats. Both teams are desperate to end their losing streaks and Wildcats are coming off of their own off-week following a loss to Baylor.
You see that man above? He's nothing short of a magician. Do not let this season's record fool you. He is the only coach (so far) to hold Baylor under 70 points. Yes, they still lost that game, but they held Baylor to less than half of points they've been scoring on everyone else so far.
That game was Snyder-ball at its best, despite the loss as a result. Kansas State will look to do more of the same against WVU. It's what Snyder has always done; control the ground game, the tempo and the clock.
The Wildcats will be using a two-headed quarterback system against WVU with Waters being the more prototypical pocket passer and Sams being the dual threat runner. Sams is actually their leading rusher, accounting for 522 yards on 86 carries with 7 TDs. Behind him is the capable John Hubert who checks in with 358 on 80 carries with 4 TDs.
Receivers Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett look to return to action this weekend after missing time with injuries, bolstering the Wildcat passing game as well as their return game. Curry Sexton has also emerged as a dependable receiver in the K-State offense.
I harp on this seemingly every week because seemingly every week, it's a valid point: third down conversions. K-State is ranked 27th in converting their third down opportunities at a 48% clip. WVU must slow this down and get them off of the field or they could eat up the entire game-clock.
Defensively, they are actually a bit worse (though only by .6%) than our Mountaineers at defending on third down. This is where the Mountaineers can make or break this game. If WVU can keep the running game going and get manageable third downs, the passing game will open up for our receiving corps (based on info gleaned from our Q&A with Jon Morse of BOTC) and they should be able to exploit the relatively inexperienced K-State defensive backfield.
This of course, is easier said than done, as to date, WVU is only converting 31% of third down opportunities. Last week was an improvement until late in the game when multiple consecutive 3-and-outs basically sealed the game for Tech.
Bottom line is that this is definitely a winnable game for the Mountaineers. Kansas State has shown to be error prone, giving the ball up in several key situations (not that we're much better statistically) and if we can win the 3rd down battle and the turnover battle, we might sneak out of Manhattan with a W and a much better chance at securing a bowl berth and those valuable extra practices.