Column by MICKEY FURFARI
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Coach Dana Holgorsen thinks No. 3-ranked Kansas State (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) will be West Virginia’s “biggest challenge of the year, without question.”
But he believes the Mountaineers, ranked 17th after last Saturday’s 49-14 upset defeat at Texas Tech, will play harder and a lot better in this Saturday’s Big 12 conference game against the Wildcats.
The kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Surprisingly, West Virginia (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) was listed as a three-point favorite against Kansas State in Tuesday’s USA Today.
Holgorsen is not surprised by Kansas State’s strong start as one of the nation’s best teams. “I’m very, very familiar with Bill Snyder and what he has been able to do during his time at Kansas State.” he said.
“They’re very, very fast. They’re physical. They’re very, very tough and they’re very disciplined.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s the offense or the defense or the special teams. Their whole program is built on the run game. Mentally tough. Physically tough. Very difficult.”
He suggested that the Wildcats play with a tremendous amount of effort and that any parent around the country could see and appreciate how well team members are coached.
Holgorsen said there’s really nothing wrong with West Virginia’s highly productive offense that adjustments could not cure. He considers the letdown at Texas Tech as “just a bad game.
“Our job defensively is to go out and try to stop the run,” Holgorsen said, “try to create turnovers, and then get off the field.
“I think we’ll play a lot better this week. It doesn’t (necessarily) mean we are going to win because we’ve got a very good team coming in here.
“We’ve got to play like they do, plus we’ve got to play better on all three sides of the ball.”
He said he’s “happy from a skills standpoint” where the young defense is after six games and that he has seen "some improvement.”
Holgorsen noted that he had critiqued each play phase already after the loss at Texas Tech, including his own mistakes.
He thought the Mountaineers’ effort was “spotty” against Texas Tech and that they lost confidence when falling far behind.
But he saw signs Sunday that confidence is returning.