MANHATTAN — In its last time out, the K-State football team (5-4, 3-3 Big 12) earned a crucial victory over Texas Tech (4-5, 1-5 Big 12) by a final score of 42-35 in overtime Nov. 4 in Lubbock, Texas. The Wildcats will now try and sustain that momentum Saturday, as it hosts No. 23 West Virginia (6-3, 4-2 Big 12) at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.
During his weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon at the Vanier Family Football Complex in Manhattan, K-State head coach Bill Snyder talked about the energy in his team’s locker room following the victory over Texas Tech.
“I think the spirit is there. What I’m hoping for is that we have a good deal of focus and that (his team) doesn’t lose sight of (Saturday’s matchup). That’s the most significant thing to me,” Snyder said.
The Wildcats will also try and earn a decisive sixth victory Saturday, making the team eligible for postseason play, as well as getting a good start on a tough three-game stretch to close the season. Following Saturday’s game, K-State will face off against No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 15 Iowa State.
“I’m a firm believer that if we play to our capabilities, we can beat anyone on our schedule. That goes back to playing to our capabilities and playing a full game. We need to play all four quarters and all three phases of the game, which we have not done yet this season. If we can do that, than we can be something pretty special and beat whoever we have in front of us,” sophomore wide receiver Dalton Schoen said.
Playing tough in all four quarters has been a bit of a struggle for the Wildcats lately, as they have faded in the third quarters against Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Snyder explanined the importance of correcting inconsistencies in the third quarter.
“It is vital. We have always stressed emphasis on trying to be good in the first five minutes of the third quarter. In other words, coming out of the locker room and being able to maintain a level of consistency and success. We have probably ended up, not always, but the vast majority of the time on the receiving end of the football, which means we’ve been fortunate to win more (coin) tosses. It still eats up some time when you talk about the number of plays and the yardage goes right along with it, but teams have made good adjustments at halftime. They come out and we have some difficulty getting them off the field. Consequently, we do not get as many snaps offensively,” Snyder said. “But, like last week, we came out and went three and out, which gives them two successive opportunities for drives. If they hold the ball a decent amount of time, then you are well through the third quarter. At a point in time, we had only three snaps in the third quarter well into the third quarter of the ballgame. Both sides have to play better, it’s that simple, as well as make better adjustments for whatever their adjustments are. That’s kind of a feeling-out period.”
For the second week in a row, K-State will be facing off against a high-powered, air-raid, offense. West Virginia is averaging 40.2 points per game, and is racking up 516.3 yards of total offense per game. Snyder compared the offenses of West Virginia and Texas Tech.
“I do not think there is a great deal of significant difference from West Virginia and Texas Tech. I think they are very similar in what they do. (West Virginia head coach) Dana (Holgorsen) is a very bright young coach, as I believe (Texas Tech head coach) Kliff (Kingsbury) is. Both of them have come from that throwing background where they put the football in the air an awful lot. Both of them are engrained in trying to have balance in their offense. Both of them have done that and had success doing it. It just makes it a little more difficult for a defense,” Snyder said.
On offense, West Virginia is led by redshirt junior quarterback Will Grier. Grier, a transfer from Florida, is completing 65 percent of his passes for 3,068 yards and 30 touchdowns and has thrown 10 interceptions this season. Snyder gave his impressions of Grier this season.
“After having to sit out a year as a transfer student, it gave him an opportunity to get acclimated to a system. (West Virginia) has a pretty unique system. I think (the transfer year) helped him immensely. He started the season off quite well, and nothing has changed throughout. He’s acclimated to the system, and he’s a pretty good athlete. He throws the ball extremely well. He makes good decisions. All of those things are apparent when you watch him on tape. He can bring it down and scramble with it. He’s not one of those guys who will run around and slide on you. If he needs a yard, he’s going to fight to get the yards,” Snyder said.
K-State and West Virginia will kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.