West Virginia trying to avoid letdown at bottom-feeding Kansas
LAWRENCE, Kan. — West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen wouldn't change much about the way things have been going lately for his Mountaineers, who bounced back from a close loss in their opener to Virginia Tech with a pair of lopsided routs.
Kansas counterpart David Beaty is looking for a fresh start.
The Jayhawks have followed a season-opening win over Southeast Missouri State with back-to-back losses to Central Michigan and Ohio. And now, what a long-downtrodden program had thought would be a breakout season with bowl potential is looking a lot like so many seasons before it.
“The good thing is we're 1-2. That's where we're at. There's a bunch of teams out there that are 1-2,” Beaty said. “Don't make it more than it is. We've got a great opportunity this Saturday.”
That's when the Mountaineers roll into town for their Big 12 opener.
“It's a lot different,” Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong said. “I don't want to say that things are a lot more serious but they are. We're going into Big 12 play, and I think we'll be ready.”
The Jayhawks had better be ready.
The Mountaineers, who were the first team outside the Top 25 this week, are led by prolific quarterback Will Grier and an offense that's been on a roll. They rebounded from a 31-24 loss to the Hokies with a 56-20 blitz of East Carolina and a 59-16 win over Delaware State last weekend.
Grier is averaging more than 340 yards passing, just outside the top 10 nationally.
“You can say what you want to, we've done what we're supposed to these last couple of weeks,” Holgorsen said. “We came up short in that first game, we know, but we've done what we're supposed to as a football team, as a football program, these last two weeks and we're ready to move on.”
But while Holgorsen spoke glowingly of the progress Kansas has made under Beaty, the reality is the Mountaineers have had little trouble with Kansas. They rolled 49-0 two years ago in Lawrence and led 31-0 at halftime a year go before cruising to a 48-21 victory in Morgantown.
“We need to play our best, which is what we're expected to do and what we're expecting to do,” Holgorsen said. “The same goes for them. They're going to say the same thing. They're going to tell their guys that this has been one that we've been looking forward to for a long time. So we'll get their absolute best this weekend. We know that.”
The first concern Beaty listed this week was the Mountaineers' speed, and he made a point of highlighting Justin Crawford. The running back already has 326 yards and five rushing touchdowns.