MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — That imitation-equals-flattery paradigm wasn’t lost on West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, who admitted to mimicking Kansas State’s run-game setup during his season of reinvention.
“I used to study Texas Tech quite a bit, and now I’m studying Kansas State,” chuckled Holgorsen, almost in disbelief at the play-calling changeover.
“Offensively I’ve studied them all year based on us kind of doing some different things with our offense—quarterback run-game stuff and run game in general,” he said. “We’ve watched them a good bit.”
Not long ago Kansas State was the offensive oddball in a conference full of spread attacks, but now West Virginia has taken on a similar grind-it-out approach. K-State’s Joe Hubener tops all Big 12 quarterbacks with 168 carries, and West Virginia’s Skyler Howard is next at 140.
Both want to pry at the defensive soft spots Saturday in the regular-season finale, one that could give West Virginia (7-4, 4-4) a winning record in league play for the second straight year and eight total wins for the first time since assimilating.
K-State has averaged more than nine wins the past four seasons, claiming a Big 12 championship in 2012 and three consecutive wins over West Virginia. That’s more motivation for Holgorsen, who grew up a Hawkeyes fan when Bill Snyder was coordinating the offense at Iowa.
“If I had to circle one that I wanted to get at the beginning of the year, this would be it,” Holgorsen said. “Out of the respect that I have for Coach Snyder, his program and the way he is doing things, this is one that we haven’t had in the last few years, and it is important for us to be able to do so.”