Kansas State Issues, WVU Defense Builds Big Mountaineer Win
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. –The previous four WVU-Kansas State meetings were decided by an average of 3.25 points, including the Wildcats’ 24-23 win at home in 2015 and the Mountaineers’ 17-16 decision in Morgantown in 2016.
Five points separated the teams last year as WVU held off a K-State comeback for a tense 28-23 victory.
Tension was noticeably absent Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium as the Mountaineers steamrolled the Wildcats 35-6.
The Mountaineers were far from dominant on the scoreboard – they led just 7-0 late into the second quarter, partly thanks to a Will Grier interception and a Leddie Brown fumble on their first two possessions. But in the second quarter, WVU demonstrated its superiority, first by stuffing an ill-advised outside run on fourth-and-one and then by capitalizing with a quick scoring drive, which ended on a 1-yard scoring pass from Will Grier to David Sills V. Grier and Sills hooked up for another 1-yard TD about 90 seconds later after another three-and-out from the Wildcats’ offense.
“We have a number of major issues,” Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. “Consistency is one. We couldn’t run the ball early. Couldn’t run it or throw it.”
Indeed, it seemed as if the Wildcats couldn’t have scored a touchdown if given another four quarters. They ran for only 20 yards on 15 attempts in the first half. Quarterback Skylar Thompson completed seven of 10 passes but amassed just 57 yards. The Mountaineers recorded four tackles for loss, including the fourth down play.
In two starts against West Virginia, Thompson has completed 24 passes but none for a touchdown.
Snyder said Thompson, a sophomore, “didn’t play as well as he’s capable,” and admitted in hindsight he should have inserted Alex Delton, who had played in the Wildcats’ first three games, earlier. Delton appeared late in the third quarter in what seemed like a white flag gesture.
The Wildcats finished with 318 yards on 65 plays but 241 came in the second half.
“We have some execution issues,” Snyder said. “It was like sandlot football. We were just a bad offense, period.”
The roots of the loss, thought Snyder, came earlier in the week.
“We prepared poorly on Tuesday, prepared poorly on Wednesday and had a good practice Thursday,” he said. “I told them we can’t do that.”
Overall, Snyder said he was pleased with his defense, except for its propensity to give up big plays.
WVU took a 7-0 lead on an 82-yard bomb from Grier to Marcus Simms in the first quarter. In the third quarter, Grier connected with Tevin Bush on a 62-yard score to put the Mountaineers up 28-3.
Grier finished 25-of-35 for 356 yards and five touchdowns.
“Guys got open, we let some things go, that’s what happened,” K-State linebacker Da’Quan Patton said.