Grading The Mountaineers: WVU vs. K-State

West Virginia receiver Winston Wright (1) tries to find running room behind the block of Charles Finley (80)

MANHATTAN, KANSAS – In defeating Kansas State in the past five straight meetings, West Virginia was always the team that made fewer mistakes.

Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, though, it was the Wildcats who played efficient football. They had no turnovers and only one penalty, while WVU gave the ball away three times, and though it only had two penalties, both were detrimental.

All that allowed the Wildcats to push past West Virginia, 34-17.

With the loss, WVU fell to 4-6, while the Wildcats improved to 7-3.

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Atmosphere – Manhattan is a flat version of Morgantown – a nice, mid-sized college town that is a little ways from urban areas. Manhattan is a two-hour drive from Kansas City and an hour from the state capital of Topeka. The area’s flat topography allows for excellent tailgating opportunities in the large parking lots that surround Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Every time WVU visits The Bill, it seems the stadium has undergone major upgrades; this time it’s a $50 million addition called the Shamrock Zone, which adds 10 new luxury suites to the south end and is directly connected to basketball’s Bramlage Coliseum. Temperatures were a chilly 25 degrees when the tailgating began Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop a good, though not great, crowd of 43,932 fans from showing up. They were rewarded, as the sun warmed the plains of Central Kansas, bringing the day to a comfortable 50 by game’s end. It was a nice afternoon for college football. Grade: B

Offense – West Virginia’s offense actually moved the ball (182 yards in the first half and 345 for the game), but it was just five of 14 in third-down situations. That failure to convert on third downs resulted in WVU finding points on just one of its first seven possessions. It wasn’t just third-down conversions that cause the Mountaineer offense problems, though. By halftime, WVU was trailing 17-3, and while it tried to mount a comeback in the second half, the hole was too deep. West Virginia’s issues began early, as a Jarret Doege pass bounced off Winston Wright’s hands on the second play of the game, resulting in a K-State interception, which it eventually turned into a touchdown. A chop block penalty by the Mountaineer offensive line later in the first quarter squashed another promising drive, and a Leddie Brown fumble in the fourth quarter pretty much put the final nail in WVU’s coffin. It was that way all afternoon for West Virginia’s offense, which had some good moments but matched most of those positives with negatives. Grade: D

West Virginia defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley (left) talks with Dante Stills (55)

Defense – The Mountaineers limited K-State to 119 yards of offense in the first half and 299 for the game, but mistakes in all three phases allowed the Wildcats to score 34 points with limited yardage output. KSU’s three scoring drives in the opening 30 minutes covered 55 yards for a touchdown after an interception, zero offensive yards for a TD after a blocked punt and 18 yards for a field goal as the result of the inability of WVU’s offense to get out of bad field position. West Virginia’s defense was put in some bad situations, but it also missed some opportunities to turn the game around. A very ill-advised VanDarius Cowan late hit/targeting penalty wiped out a Mountaineer interception that would have given WVU the ball inside the K-State 20. West Virginia corner Charles Woods also let a would-be INT flip through his grasp. In addition, K-State converted a huge fourth-and-seven in the fourth quarter to keep a drive alive, which is eventually resulted in a TD after WVU had grabbed the momentum in narrowing the ‘Cat lead to 24-17. The Mountaineer defense did a number of good things, but they failed in their chances to make game-changing plays. Grade: C

Special teams – K-State blocked a punt, returning it seven yards for a TD. West Virginia hadn’t had a blocked punt returned for a touchdown since the Don Nehlen era (1998 by Virginia Tech). Add in a missed field goal by normally dependable Casey Legg and a 64-yard KSU kickoff return to start the second half, and it was a dark day for WVU’s special teams all across the board. Grade: F

Coaching – As is usual with Neal Brown’s team, he had plenty of new wrinkles this week, including a flea-flicker, a shovel pass, two-back sets and new defensive alignments. Window dressing is nice, but it alone doesn’t win games; fundamental football does, and West Virginia failed in that area, as it had bad penalties, dropped passes, missed takeaway opportunities and much, much more. Those are generally player-based errors, but the coaches have to share in their failure to correct those mistakes, which have been all too prevalent this season. Grade: D


Home Page forums Grading The Mountaineers: WVU vs. K-State

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    MANHATTAN, KANSAS – In defeating Kansas State in the past five straight meetings, West Virginia was always the team that made fewer mistakes. Saturday
    [See the full post at: Grading The Mountaineers: WVU vs. K-State]


    Can’t disagree with any of the grades.  If I did it would be to downgrade the defense.  4th game of the year that they gave up a late score when they needed a stop.  Really good defenses find a way to get a stop in those situations.  They’ve failed 4 times now to get a stop when they had a chance to win late in games.  I give them a D too


    I agree with the ranking, but although the total yards given up by the defense sounds good, I’m not so sure the defense deserved a grade even that high.

    The targeting penalty alone played a big part in the lost.

    It seems that whenever K State needed a big play, they were able to get it.

    K State won the game because of Mountaineer errors,  But, for some reason, posters continually post to bench the QB, even though at this point in time, he’s the Mountaineers best option, and was no more at fault for the loss, in this game than others.


    Coaching another bad grade. Agree with the D.
    Changes need to be made.

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Home Page forums Grading The Mountaineers: WVU vs. K-State

Home Page forums Grading The Mountaineers: WVU vs. K-State