Coming off the loss to Oklahoma State, the 4-5 West Virginia Mountaineers will face another challenge when they take on Kansas State on the road on Saturday.
Kansas State, led by head coach Chris Klieman are currently 6-3, and have won three-straight Big 12 games. The Wildcats are led on offense by redshirt senior quarterback Skylar Thompson and running back Deuce Vaughn.
Skylar Thompson has dealt with his fair share of injuries over the years at Kansas State, but he always seems to get back on the field. Thompson did not play against the Mountaineers last season, as it was Will Howard that got the start when Thompson was nursing an injury. Howard did not fare well against the 2020 WVU defense, as the Mountaineers won by a comfortable 37-10 score.
Since returning from injury, Thompson has thrown for 1,558 yards with eight touchdowns, and he has also scored four touchdowns on the ground.
Here’s what WVU head coach Neal Brown had to say about the Kansas State veteran quarterback.
“Skylar Thompson is the biggest difference this year. When he’s been healthy, they’ve played at a different level,” Brown said. “He’s a tough kid. He’s a really good decision maker.”
The next biggest threat for the Wildcats’ offense is running back Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn, the second-year 5-foot-6 rusher, has run for 866 yards this season with 12 touchdowns and has caught an additional three receiving touchdowns.
Here’s what Neal Brown said about the sophomore running back.
“They do a good job of getting him isolated in the run game and the pass game and they get him in empty. He’s special,” Brown said. “He can make people miss. Really good player, and we’re going to have to ID him wherever he’s at.”
As for the Mountaineers, Neal Brown’s group is going to look to get back on track on the offensive side of the ball. WVU put up 487 yards of total offense in their win over TCU, and 492 in the win over Iowa State. Last Saturday, Oklahoma State’s talented defense held the Mountaineers to just 133 yards of total offense, and only 17 yards rushing. WVU quarterback Jarret Doege was sacked eight times in the game, which didn’t help the already struggling Mountaineer offense.
Neal Brown shared some quick thoughts on Tuesday as to why the offense struggled so mightily against the Cowboys.
“Offensively, it can be summed up as this. We lost one-on-ones. They got us in one-on-one battles, whether it was man coverage or up front, and we lost way more than we won,” Brown said. “Way too many negative plays. We played behind the chains all day, and we’re not a group that’s built for that right now.”
To find the win column again, the Mountaineers are going to need a better performance from the offense as a whole, especially Jarret Doege and the offensive line. Both Doege and the lineman up front showed that they are capable of playing winning football in the Iowa State game, so they need to bring that play down to Manhattan on Saturday.
West Virginia came out victorious on their last trip to Kansas State in 2019, when the Mountaineers upset the No. 24 ranked Wildcats 24-20. This was Neal Brown’s first big road win as coach of the Mountaineers, and it was also Jarret Doege’s first career start.
The Mountaineers will look to win their sixth straight against the Wildcats on Saturday and get back in the win column. The game will kick off at noon from Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas.