Klein a different breed of QB
MORGANTOWN - So far this season, West Virginia has seen prolific passing offenses in Big 12 foes Baylor, Texas Tech and Texas. What waits for the Mountaineers this week is a bit of a change.
Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein leads the Wildcats - No. 4 in the first Bowl Championship Series rankings - into Morgantown Saturday in front of a national television audience with a run-oriented offense geared toward testing the so-far-shaky WVU defense.
In Kansas State's last game, a 27-21 win at Iowa State, Klein led the Wildcats with 105 rushing yards and three touchdowns to go with 187 passing yards. For his career, the senior signal caller has run for 43 touchdowns; this season, he's accounted for 510 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
What Klein represents is a different kind of challenge for a Mountaineer defense that has been exposed through the air at times this season and been somewhere close to average against the run.
"He's one of the best players in the country," WVU defensive coordinator Joe DeForest said. "I've seen people try to defend him several different ways and he's still successful. We're going to have to get more hats on the ball. [K-State] creates such a different challenge than last week. It's totally opposite, so we've got to switch gears and prepare differently."
Mountaineer linebacker Isaiah Bruce said the Wildcats present a different look than the team has seen in recent weeks but added that - from his perspective - it is a welcome change.
"It's definitely going to be a change since [Klein] is such a good runner," Bruce said. "It brings us back to earlier in the season with Marshall and JMU. It works in our favor seeing as how they like to run so much and we have a pretty good run defense."
West Virginia ranks fifth in the Big 12 in rushing defense, allowing 140.7 yards per game but has yet to face a rushing attack of the Wildcats' caliber.
K-State averages 245.3 yards per game on the ground with Klein and John Hubert, who has run for 606 yards and eight touchdowns on 98 carries this season, doing the bulk of the work.
WVU secondary coach Daron Roberts said when he watches tape on Kansas State, not only does the sheer ability the Wildcats' possess stick out but also the discipline they play with.
"You turn on the tape and you see a very well-coached team that is led by some veteran ballplayers," he said. "Their entire offensive package is very-well constructed. They have some play action and run the ball so well they force you to honor the run. When you do, they pick their spots to throw the ball."
DeForest agreed that K-State, led by coach Bill Snyder and his 165 career wins, would be tough not only because of its talent but also because of how well the team is coached.
"They're probably the most well-coached team we've faced," DeForest said. "They do all the little things. That's going to create a challenge. You as a coach and you as a team have to be prepared each and every play because they are."
Kansas State has been one of the best teams in the country this season in terms of time of possession.
The Wildcats are at the top of the Big 12 and rank fourth nationally with 33:55 of possession per game. K-State has won just one game since 2002 in which its opponent had the ball for more than 37 minutes, a 35-21 decision earlier this season against North Texas.
"Obviously having an experienced signal caller like Klein means they're very efficient on offense," Roberts said.
WVU currently averages 30:03 in time of possession in a 60-minute game this season. Keeping the ball out of Klein's hands as much as possible will be a priority for the Mountaineers.
Reach Tom Bragg at email@example.com.