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WVU football notebook: Defensive struggles continue

| Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012, 9:32 p.m.
Tribune-Review
West Virginia offensive lineman Jeff Braun (57) is one of 11 seniors who started in the Mountaineers' 55-34 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday. Barry Reeger | Tribune-Review

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia won the coin toss but elected to receive the second-half kickoff. It was an interesting decision, considering the Mountaineers' recent struggles and the ineffectiveness of their defense.

Kansas State not only kicked a field goal on the opening drive, but the Wildcats' also scored on all five of their first-half possessions.

Asked about WVU's lack of intensity last week against Texas Tech carrying over to the Kansas State game, coach Dana Holgorsen said before the game he was working to correct the problem.

“It is a problem, but for every football team that exists out there, it happens at some point, and you have to fix it,” he said. “I mean, it could happen in a bowl game. I am talking about 18- to 22-year-old kids here. Who knows what their mindset is. I take full responsibility for it. It is our job as coaches to figure out where we want it to be and change it and fix it. We failed last week.”

Where's the offense?

Unhappy with his running game, Holgorsen shook up the offensive line, starting Nick Kindler over Pat Eger (Thomas Jefferson) at right tackle after Eger started the first six games. The Mountaineers were held to 12 yards on seven carries and were outgained, 346-74, in the first half.

In addition to the disparity in yards, the Mountaineers were held scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season.

Klein climbs chart

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein rushed for his 39th career touchdown during the second quarter, breaking the Football Bowl Subdivision record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback.

Klein scored his 40th such touchdown before halftime and notched his 41st in the third.

Klein shows composure

A two-play sequence in the second quarter highlighted WVU's defensive woes.

Klein overthrew receiver Tyler Lockett, who was open behind the secondary and would have scored a 63-yard touchdown. Undaunted, Klein on the next play completed a 44-yard pass on an identical route by Lockett, who again was wide open behind the secondary. Four plays later, Klein scored on a 1-yard run to make it 31-7.

Smith's streak ends

You knew the game wasn't going WVU's way when Geno Smith was intercepted on his first pass of the third quarter. It was Smith's first interception in 326 passes dating to the South Florida game last season.

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jharris@tribweb.com.

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