The West Virginia University football program took a step back last weekend when it dropped a close game to a struggling Texas Tech team, and it eyes a return to the win column when No. 16 Kansas State comes to Morgantown looking to stay unbeaten in conference play.
The Mountaineers (3-2, 2-2 Big 12) were plagued by more dropped passes and a struggling rushing attack that seemed to be gaining momentum in the games prior. WVU only had 91 rushing yards on 29 attempts. The game was decided when a fumble was recovered and taken back for a touchdown to give Texas Tech the lead for good.
Kansas State (4-1, 4-0) is coming off a dominating win against Kansas that saw newly inserted quarterback Will Howard go 17-of-24 for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He is replacing starter Skylar Thompson, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.
“Will Howard has a real calm demeanor about him,” WVU head coach Neal Brown said. “He’s a big kid, strong runner. He makes two or three really difficult passes each game he’s played for explosive plays.”
The Wildcats' leading rusher and receiver has been freshman Deuce Vaughn. On the season, he has carried the ball 61 times and piled up 309 yards with four touchdowns. He has also hauled in 13 catches for 360 yards and a touchdown. He is averaging over 27 yards per catch.
“They’ve done a great job with him,” Brown said. “He’s elusive, he’s an issue. We’re going to have to ID him every time he’s on the field.”
For the Mountaineers to get back on track and win against a tough Kansas State team, running back Leddie Brown will have to get back to his game. Leddie Brown has already carried the ball 102 times through five games for WVU, picking up 592 yards and seven touchdowns rushing. Against Texas Tech, he was limited to only 77 yards on 21 carries.
Quarterback Jarret Doege had a good game in the last one against the Red Raiders, according to Neal Brown. He was on target with many of his passes, but many dropped balls made his stat line look a little worse. He finished the game 32-of-50 with 347 yards and a touchdown pass.
“I thought Doege played his best game, probably, in his career here so far,” Neal Brown said. “Throwing the football, getting the ball out on time.”
The WVU defense had been carrying the team to wins early in the season but could not get into a rhythm in the last game. It is giving up only 261 yards per game and has held teams to 31% on third downs. The defense has also gotten 18 sacks on the year.
“Just got off to a slow start,” Neal Brown said about the defensive performance against Texas Tech. “For whatever reason, we weren’t sharp early. The opening series of the game really set the tone for them.”
The game against Kansas State is set to kickoff at noon and will be nationally televised on ESPN2.