West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen and his Mountaineers moved to 3-0 on the season and 1-0 in the Big 12 after the win over Kansas State Saturday afternoon, 35-6. In a series that’s been fairly close, including an average margin victory of 3.3 points the last four games including splitting the last four, Dana was pleased with his team.
“Really proud of our coaches and players. Offensively, defensively, kicking game.” boasted Dana. “We’ve been in some wars with Kansas State, and I was fully expecting this one to be the same, especially how the game started.”
The Mountaineers high potent offense had the worst start of their 2018 season. They opened the game with the ball and after moving the ball down the field, quarterback Will Grier threw his second interception of the season on a deep ball.
On their ensuing possession, freshman Leddie Brown mishandled the handoff for yet another turnover.
“We turned it over twice in the first two possessions, but field position wise, it didn’t hurt us. One’s on the two and ones on like the 20. At the end of the day it’s just like punting.” said Holgorsen. “I think our mindset right as a team right now – and this means this means we’ve got a chance to be a good team – is play tougher and feed off each other when it comes to that. We’ve got to clean some things up when it comes to the turnovers.”
West Virginia scored on their third possession on a big play. Grier hit receiver Marcus Simms as he was streaking down the sidelines for an 82-yard touchdown pass.
Neither team could generate much offense, and as a result, Kansas State took a chance going for it on 4th down inside their own territory. They ran a speed option off the left side and middle linebacker Dylan Tonkery hit the running back, soon after he corralled the ball, and dropped him for a four-yard loss.
That defensive stand shifted the momentum and the Mountaineers scored back to back touchdowns in just over five minutes to end the half.
“We stopped them on fourth down, we scored, then we stopped them, then we had a two-minute drive down and scored again.” said Dana. “We finished that half pretty good.”
On the final score of the half, West Virginia got the ball with 57 seconds left. They quickly moved the ball down the field 71 yards on five consecutive completions, setting up a Grier to Sills touchdown, with just two seconds left on the clock.
I’d like to think we know how long it takes to execute a play.” explained Holgorsen. “It was either going to be caught for a touchdown or incomplete. There was probably going to be one second on the clock. I felt better when that thing went to six. Five is kind of… I didn’t want to take a chance. It’s hard to get down there. I obviously felt good about Will and David because they just do that so much. The percentages were in our favor and it worked.”
West Virginia’s 21 points in the first half was a good start. Last year, they put up 28 points in the first 30 minutes of the game and didn’t score again. This year was different. “We came out and continued playing well in the third quarter. We didn’t do that last year. We had 28 points and scored right before the half, then went there in the second half and didn’t do anything on offense. That was talked about in the locker room. We went out there and we put two touchdowns on in the third quarter and that was good to see.” said Dana.
The defense continues to punish opposing offenses. They held Kansas State to under 100 rushing yards (91) and 3-14 on third down. “I thought we played pretty good against them last year defensively, and this was a better performance. We’ve done pretty food against these guys, defensively. This was the best performance yet.” Bragged Holgorsen. We played well, so I like where we’re at defensively.”