West Virginia Mountaineers

Quarterback play defines No. 12 Kansas State’s 26-20 victory over WVU

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Bill Snyder‘s Kansas State Wildcats are known for playing fundamentally sound, ball-control football. Neither was the case Thursday against the West Virginia Mountaineers. Yet, the No. 12 Wildcats still found a way to beat WVU 26-20 in Morgantown.

Two leaders on Kansas State’s offense, quarterback Jake Waters and wide receiver Tyler Lockett, took over the game and never looked back.

Everything starts with the quarterback. Waters was forced to carry the offense due to West Virginia completely taking away Kansas State’s running game. The Wildcats gained one yard on the ground. Waters was forced to throw the ball 33 times. He completed 22 passes for a career-high 400 yards through the air.

Waters doubled as the team’s leading rusher. The quarterback was credited with 12 carries for 13 yards. And his seven-yard touchdown pass to running back DeMarcus Robinson on the team’s initial drive was the only time the offense found the end zone.

Lockett was, as per usual, Waters’ favorite target.

The senior wide receiver caught 10 passes for 196 yards. His biggest contributions actually came on special teams, though. Lockett’s 43-yard punt return for a touchdown granted Kansas State a 17-3 lead in the second quarter. The talented receiver/returner finished the contest with 321 total yards.

Lockett completely outplayed one of the nation’s top wide receivers in West Virginia’s Kevin White. The Wildcats successfully bracketed White throughout the contest, and the nation’s third-leading receiver finished the contest with seven catches for 63 yards and a touchdown.

Waters’ play wasn’t the only interesting quarterback situation in this particular game.

West Virginia sophomore Sklyer Howard took over for senior Clint Trickett, and the underclassman may not hand the job to Trickett with only Iowa State remaining on the schedule.

Howard played much better than Trickett did once he was inserted into the lineup. The sophomore was 15-of-23 passing for 198 yards and two touchdowns.

At 6-5 overall, the future is now for the Mountaineers.

As the Mountaineers contemplate their fledgling quarterback controversy, Kansas State still has an outside shot of claiming a Big 12 Conference championship.

The Wildcats are now tied with the TCU Horned Frogs at 6-1 overall in the division. With a contest remaining against the No. 7 Baylor Bears and TCU playing the Texas Longhorns this weekend, Kansas State can still claim an outright Big 12 title.

Snyder’s squad will have to play better than they did against West Virginia for the program to have a chance of that actually happening.

Fortunate calls allow No. 12 Kansas State to build 17-3 lead against WVU

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The ball bounced in favor of the No. 12 Kansas State Wildcats during the first half of play against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

A suspect touchdown call and another touchdown being called back proved to be the biggest difference for the Wildcats, who hold a 17-3 lead at halftime.

The fortunate calls in Kansas State’s favor started on the team’s initial drive.

After a 23-yard punt return from Tyler Lockett — and his presence on special teams will come up again — the Wildcats started their initial drive from West Virginia’s 49-yard line. Seven plays later, Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters drove his offense to the 7-yard line. On third-and-goal, Waters scrambled in the pocket and found running back DeMarcus Robinson open for a touchdown pass.

However, Robinson dropped the football during the follow through of the catch. Despite the bobbled ball, the referees ruled he had possession before he went to the ground and the touchdown call stood. Kansas State gained an early 7-0 lead.

After the team’s traded field goals, the Mountaineers finally found the end zone on one of the wackiest touchdown catches of the season. Or so they thought.

Kevin White, the nation’s third-leading receiver, came up with an amazing tipped pass for the unlikely score (see: below).

The catch was eventually ruled incomplete upon review. One angle appeared to show the ball hitting the ground before it flipped into the air toward White. The situation was compounded by the fact West Virginia kicker Josh Lambert missed the ensuing field goal attempt.

Locket extended Kansas State’s lead with a 43-yard punt return for a touchdown. The All-American returner averaged 33 yards per punt return through two quarters of play.

As the teams enter the second half, Kansas State wants to return to playing sound football after a sloppy first half. West Virginia, meanwhile, needs to capitalize on its opportunities and find ways to get its vertical passing attack on track.

Report: WVU ready to schedule series against SEC East opponent

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As a member of the College Football Playoff committee, West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck understands as well as anyone the importance a team’s strength of schedule plays in the playoff standings.

In an attempt to improve the Mountaineers’ profile, Luck is in the midst of negotiations to schedule a home-and-home series against an SEC opponent, according to the Austin American-Statesman‘s Kirk Bohls.

While Luck didn’t divulge exactly which program the Mountaineers will likely face, Bohls guessed which SEC East team is the most likely candidate:

A series can’t take place any earlier than 2016. The Mountaineers already have three non-conference opponents scheduled for the next two years.

The program is already set to play the Tennessee Volunteers at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte to open the 2018 season, which rules Butch Jones‘ program out. Missouri, meanwhile, has yet to schedule a non-conference game for the 2016 season, and the Tigers have an opening in 2017 as well.

That leaves five other SEC East possibilities. If Missouri is the favorite, the Kentucky Wildcats should be next on the list due to their proximity to West Virginia. The two programs play in border states and recruit similar areas.

With Luck’s insistence to improve West Virginia’s schedule, a series against any of the other SEC East teams can’t be completely ruled out this early in the process.

Dana Holgorsen reinstates WVU’s top cornerback

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Three and a half weeks after he was initially suspended by West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen for a “violation of team rules”, sophomore cornerback Daryl Worley will return to the team.

Worley’s suspension came as a result of a warrant being issued for his arrest after being charged with battery due to an altercation with a female outside a club.

Holgorsen’s decision was made after Worley agreed to a plea agreement after pleading no contest to misdemeanor assault, according to WVMetroNews.com’s Hoppy Kercheval.

Holgorsen released a statement Wednesday to explain his decision:

Worley’s return couldn’t come at a better time. The 6-1, 199-pound sophomore is the team’s best cover corner, and the Mountaineers are set to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Baylor Bears and Oklahoma State Sooners in consecutive weeks.

Without Worley in the lineup, the Mountaineers suffered only 320 passing yards the past two weeks against the Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas Jayhawks. West Virginia’s improved secondary will only benefit from Worley’s return.

WVU QB admits first smooch was with Nick Saban’s daughter

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A first kiss is a special moment in a person’s life. If you’re West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett, it’s a moment that can come back and haunt you during the Mountaineers’ season opener against the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Trickett revealed a little secret about himself during his Tuesday meeting with local media. His first kiss was with the daughter of Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Whether or not this was a smart choice to make this public just prior to playing one of the most inventive defensive coaches in college football history is certainly in question.

Saban’s reputation as one of the most intimidating coaches in college football is well known. He could use this as an opportunity to overwhelm the Mountaineers’ offense and crush Trickett with a variety of blitz packages.

Or, Saban can take this in stride and think nothing of it. His main concern will be defeating the Mountaineers. Nothing more, nothing less.

The latter situation is far more likely, but it’s fun to think about Saban defending the honor of his daughter in a gladiatorial game of chess in which the likely outcome is Alabama emerging victorious.