The West Virginia football team will look to bounce back Saturday against Kansas State following yet another disappointing loss in the Big 12 Conference.
The Mountaineers, who are now 1-3 in the conference, have lost their last two games after giving up a combined 110 points on defense. Following their Week 5 upset over Oklahoma state, West Virginia had the No. 37-ranked defense nationally.
Despite their recent struggles, head coach Dana Holgorsen and the team have put the past in their rear view mirror.
“This will be a big challenge for us,” Holgorsen said. “We’re disappointed in the loss last week. I thought it was a game we could’ve won, but we have to bounce back from it and move forward. There’s never going to be any easy games.”
In the 2012 season, the No. 4 Wildcats came to Morgantown and limited quarterback Geno Smith to just 143 yards and two interceptions. The No. 13 Mountaineers scored just two touchdowns in their 55-14 blowout loss.
Coming into this week, the Wildcats are 2-4 on the season and winless in the Big 12. Despite their record, Holgorsen sees many similarities between this year’s team and last year’s team, which finished 11-1 on the season.
“A lot of the things I said about them (last year) is going to be about the absolute same thing I’m going to say about them now,” he said. “Even though they’re in a different place (this year).”
Saturday’s game marks the first time the Mountaineers will play in Manhattan, Kan., and Holgorsen said he’s aware of their hostile environment.
“I’ve been to Kansas State several times,” he said. “They’ve built that (program) up from nothing to what you see today. It’s a heck of a place to play a college football game. The fans are loud, they’re rowdy and their student section is great, which is right behind our bench. It’s a challenging place to go and play.”
Similar to last year, the Wildcats like to play dual threat quarterbacks. In 2012, Collin Klein had 15 passing touchdowns and 22 rushing, but graduated in May. This season, quarterback Daniel Sams leads the team in rushing and Holgorsen said he’ll be a player for the Mountaineers to hone in on.
“They have two different types of quarterbacks, but we’ll have to prepare for both of them,” he said. “Sams presents problems from an athletic point of view. He averages over six yards per carry, and we’ll have to keep him in check. He’s 6-foot-2, 210 pounds – he’s very fast and will hurt you with his feet.”
Despite early season uncertainty at quarterback, Holgorsen said quarterback Clint Trickett is “the guy” heading forward. The Mountaineers started all three quarterbacks twice through the first six games.
“He’s been playing his best football up until this point,” Holgorsen said. “He’s healthy so he’ll be able to take reps all week.”
The Wildcats had an open weekend, marking the second time in three weeks that a West Virginia opponent is coming off a bye week.
“Our motivation to win is there,” Holgorsen said. “It’s the execution that needs to improve.”