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Kansas State offers WVU a chance

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- On Tuesday, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen had his usual game-week press conference.He wore a button-down dress shirt and waded his way through the usual pre-game jargon. After just over 18 minutes at the podium, he asked if that was it, if there were any more questions. When silence was the response, he smiled."Wonderful," he said before exiting, stage left.At times, one gets the feeling Holgorsen would rather be in a dentist's chair than at a press conference. (Of course, he's not the only coach to feel that way. See Belichick, Bill.)One, however, could see from Holgorsen's body language these are not happy times in the kingdom.There's no wonder why. WVU is below .500 for the first time since early in the 2008 season. The Mountaineers have lost 10 of their last 15 games.And some fans are calling for Holgorsen's removal. Many have asked yours truly to ask WVU athletic director Oliver Luck for his comment on the situation. I did."I'm not going to make any comments during the season," Luck said on Tuesday. "Sometimes they get taken out of context. It just usually doesn't work out very well."So there you have it. The comment was exactly what was expected - and perhaps exactly what it should be. Unless there are extreme circumstances, Luck isn't going to fire a coach midseason, a la Pat Haden with Lane Kiffin and Warde Manuel with Paul Pasqualoni, because, well, there's no point. Has that helped USC or Connecticut? Has it helped those programs in any way? No. The best elixir is winning games. WVU has an opportunity this Saturday at 2-4 Kansas State.So let's go back to Holgorsen's presser - before he scooted out the door.The Mountaineer coach paid homage to Kansas State mentor Bill Snyder. He spoke of the Wildcats' two quarterbacks - passer Jake Waters and runner Daniel Sams - and how they seem to have settled on Sams. He spoke of how K-State receivers Tyler Lockett (injury) and Tramaine Thompson (undisclosed) will probably be back as targets for this game. (Both, by the way, are also fine kick returners.)He mentioned Kansas State's improved run defense. The Wildcats allowed 227 rushing yards to Texas and even 215 to North Dakota State, but just 85 to Oklahoma and 109 to Baylor.
What Holgorsen did NOT mention, though, was K-State's pass defense. And that's where West Virginia will have to make hay in the Sunflower State.The Mountaineers have struggled running the ball. They haven't been able to defend either the pass (ranked No. 79 nationally in pass efficiency defense) or the run (No. 97, allowing an average of 196 rushing yards).
Where they have a shot against Kansas State is through the air. WVU has talent - although it needs to rise and shine - at the receiver positions. QB Clint Trickett will be going against a Wildcat defense that's allowing 224.3 yards per game through the air. It's No. 74 nationally in pass efficiency defense, while WVU is No. 56 in pass offense, averaging 246.6 yards."We executed better against Texas Tech," Holgorsen said. "I was extremely disappointed in how we finished, but we moved the ball better and got into a flow."Holgorsen said left guard Quinton Spain and center Pat Eger were fine after suffering injuries against Tech, which should help.The Mountaineer coach was also asked (amazingly) if Kansas State is better than its 2-4 record."They are," he said, "and we're better than our record."We'll see. Kansas State, though, certainly offers an opportunity to improve on it.
Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, or follow him at      
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