West Virginia set for defensive battle vs. Kansas State

Kansas State Wildcats

Expect a defensive battle when West Virginia travels to Kansas State on Saturday, as at least both coaches have that expectation.

K-State (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) is riding a three-game winning streak after holding opponents to 22 combined points in the last 10 quarters. The Wildcats totally dominated Kansas last Saturday in a 35-10 victory that could have been even more decisive.

The schedule gets tougher, however, beginning with the Mountaineers before a home game against ranked Baylor and a road game at Texas. K-State head coach Chris Klieman is wary of West Virginia’s defense.

“They have a tremendous defense,” Klieman said Monday. “That’s the first thing that jumps out at me. Very fast, very athletic, very physical defense that can pressure you and do a lot of different things.”

Klieman has seen his team’s offense get rolling, including a balanced attack at Kansas. The Wildcats rushed for 242 yards and passed for 257 yards. Having Deuce Vaughn average 14.7 yards per carry against Kansas complemented quarterback Skylar Thompson’s 19-of-24 for 244 yards.

“We’re playing with a lot of confidence and belief,” Klieman said. “The last three weeks have really been good. We asked the guys to raise the temperature of the expectation from our preparation standpoint Monday through Thursday. Not that we hadn’t been doing that, but it’s something we really emphasized. We’re coming into games really confident. We have a quarterback playing at a really high level and a running back as well.”

West Virginia (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) had won two straight games — at TCU and at home against then No. 22 Iowa State — before being throttled by ranked Oklahoma State 24-3 last Saturday. The Mountaineers need two wins in its final three games to gain bowl eligibility, something head coach Neal Brown says hasn’t lost its luster with the glut of postseason games.

“Getting bowl eligible is very important,” he said. “It’s something you point to and want to make happen.”

WVU will host Texas on Nov. 20 before finishing the season on the road at Kansas.

Brown believes K-State’s balance on offense will be a big challenge, but he’s most impressed with K-State’s defense.

“They’re playing their best football,” he said. “Defensively, they’re doing a really nice job versus the run. They’re not giving any easy throws in the passing game. Their red-zone defense has done a nice job of making people kick in their win streak.”

Quarterback Jarret Doege is completing two thirds of his passes for nearly 250 yards per game, but he has just 11 touchdowns to go with eight interceptions. The Mountaineers are led by Leddie Brown with 74 yards rushing per game and 11 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

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