The Mountaineers needed to bounce back after a crushing defeat against Texas Tech. WVU needed to prove that they are still in the Big XII race with a win over top dog Kansas State. Geno Smith needed to light up the Wildcats defense to reassert his dominance in the Heisman race.The West Virginia defense needed to shut down Optimus Klein to prove that they were worth their scholarships.
So much for the Mountaineers meeting their needs.
West Virginia continued its tail spin with a crushing loss at home, during a night game, in the most important game of the season. Welcome to life in the Big XII?
The Snydercats came out to show the nation that they are the Big XII favorites and can thrive in front of the most hostile of crowds. Credit Coach Bill Snyder for developing an incredible game plan. Kansas State ran the ball to control the clock and picked on the hapless WVU secondary mercilessly. Outside of Tavon Austin’s kickoff return touchdown and late receiving touchdown, the Wildcats executed the perfect game against the Mountaineers. Kansas State beat the Mountaineers like a drum to the tune of 55-14.
This game was heralded as the match-up of Heisman favorites and promised to be one of the best quarterback duels of the season. Only one quarterback showed up, and he does not play for WVU.
Optimus Klein, the true Heisman favorite as of now, absolutely dominated the Mountaineers defense. Klein racked up 323 yards passing, 41 yards rushing, and 7 total touchdowns. Defensive coordinators DeForest and Patterson will have nightmares of Klein for the rest of the year, that is if they are allowed to finish the season with the team. No matter whether WVU blitzed or dropped eight into coverage, there was nothing the defense could do throw Klein off of his game.
Meanwhile, the quarterback most often compared to last year’s Heisman Trophy winner (RGIII), Geno Smith, was completely off his game for a second week in a row. With the defense unable to tackle a stationary scarecrow, Geno felt that he had to carry the Mountaineers offense on his back. Smith forced a lot of passes to receivers that were not open, and the wide receivers continued to drop easy passes. Geno ended this horrific evening with 143 yards passing, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.
Things got so bad, that the pin-point accurate Geno looked to be an average quarterback, and threw his first two interception of the season. This came after Geno set the NCAA record for most consecutive pass attempts without an interception at 273. Call it a silver lining if you like.
Once again the Mountaineers defense got throttled. Once again, no one should be surprised. I’m not sure if AD Oliver Luck has begged Jeff Casteel to come back yet, but perhaps it’s time that he got on his knees and begged.
The brain trust of DeForest and Patterson have not been able to come up with anything that resembles a competitive defense. There have been moments this season that fans have had to ask themselves whether this is the WVU defense or the defense of the AFL’s Tampa Bay Storm. At this point, even AFL defenses are laughing at the Mountaineers defense.
The secondary was run off the field for the 4th straight game. They played extremely soft coverage, in anticipation of the deep ball, and were STILL not able to stop Klein and company from completing those deep passes. The coverage scheme also made the defense highly susceptible to short hook routes which destroyed them all day long.
Up front, the front seven of the defense was not able to contain the K-State rushing attack. The one aspect that the Mountaineers defense excelled at all season was against the run. Klein, Hubert, and Pease dismantled the defensive front to the tune of 146 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns on the ground. When your secondary is not fit to play on a Sun Belt defense, you better have a quality front seven to bail them out. Tonight, the WVU front seven could do nothing to stop Kansas State.
In all, this has to be the most despicable two-game performance in recent Mountaineers history. To find a time that the Mountaineers were this pathetic in a two-game stretch, you would have to look back to the 2001 season when the Mountaineers switched from Don Nehlen’s pro-style offense to Rich Rodriguez’s spread rushing offense. Granted, that season the Mountaineers did not suffer this badly in consecutive games, but they were definitely overwhelmed in multiple games similar to this year’s squad. This fact should provide West Virginia fans a nibble of solace to know that, after a major scheme change, the Mountaineers have gone on to thrive.
But the growing pains are just awful right now.