Mountaineers head coach Dana Holgorsen addressed the media Tuesday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s home conference opener against the Kansas State Wildcats. The Wildcats come to Morgantown on the heels of a home victory over Texas-San Antonio, bringing with them a desire to upset one of the stronger offenses in the conference.
This matchup tends to be an exciting one, and Coach Holgorsen is expecting nothing else.
“Kansas State is always a fun game for us. It’s been pretty competitive, about as competitive as it could get the last four or five games, so I’m expecting this game to be no different than that,” Holgorsen opened with.
Coach Holgorsen pointed out that while the Wildcats have a few new faces on their coaching staff, the team is still driven by longtime head coach Bill Snyder’s driving discipline and routine, and that the team always has a similar continuity year in, year out. Coach Holgorsen did highlight that Coach Snyder’s offense has been using two quarterbacks in the first three games of the season, seeming to now have settled on one of the two.
“. . . We know about the two quarterbacks, Skylar Thompson and the (Alex) Delton kid. We’ll be ready for both of them. They’ve kind of settled on Thompson from what I’ve seen last week, in particular,” Holgorsen said. “Really, they don’t do a ton different with either one of them that’s in there, so we’re going to prepare for these guys like we normally do and expect both of them to play.”
Holgorsen did point out that Kansas State’s special teams have always been a pain for the head coach to prepare for, highlighting that the Wildcats are just consistently good on special teams from all across the board.
“Special teams have always been my biggest headache with these guys. Sean Snyder does a great job; they focus on it, it’s important to them. They use a lot of players. I’m glad they don’t have as many guys as they had last year from their kicker, to their punter, to their deep snapper, to those two return guys, who are doing pretty good stuff in the NFL right now. But the product is still the same,” Holgorsen points out. “You’ve heard me a lot say it’s not always just about the specialists or the return guys, but there’s nine other people that are out there that are playing on those units. They cover hard, they use great technique, their schemes are really sound.”
Coach Holgorsen addressed the cancelled NC State game from this past Saturday, which essentially gave the Mountaineers a bonus week of rest and preparation for entering into Big 12 games for the rest of the season. Coach Holgorsen is not one to over-prepare and over-focus on the team’s next opponents, and kept true to that nature given the week off from the NC State cancellation.
“Tuesday and Wednesday we pretty much just turned them back into camp practices and went against each other. You have to keep playing, you need timing, you need conditioning and just a whole bunch of things,” Holgorsen said. “If you want them to improve or if you want them to stay the same, you have to keep doing it. So, we did that on Tuesday and Wednesday and then practiced them over the weekend, which gave us a little bit of time to prepare. So, we got a little ahead on Kansas State as well.”
Coach Holgorsen is ready for his team to hit the field and face the challenges that Kansas State always presents their opponents. Kansas State will likely be more of an aggressive team, much like Tennessee was towards quarterback Will Grier at times. This aggressiveness will force Grier and the offense to approach each snap with extreme precision and patience to ensure mistakes are not made early on and often throughout.
“They’re blitzing more and pressuring more and playing man coverage more than what I’ve seen. So, there’s going to be opportunities for big plays. That’s what we’ve seen on video, so I’m not expecting them to do anything different. I don’t think this will be a play-off-you team 100 percent of the time,” Holgorsen said. “They’re a little more aggressive than what we’ve seen, more like what Tennessee did. Tennessee was a little bit more aggressive.”
The West Virginia – Kansas State game is always down to the wire, and Coach Holgorsen expects nothing less for Saturday afternoon’s home game. Big 12 play will be in full swing and the meat of the season is finally here.
Let’s go Mountaineers.