K-State football talks about facing West Virginia this week

Sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson prepares to throw the ball downfield to one of the Wildcat wide receivers. The Kansas State Wildcat football team faced off against the San Antonio Roadrunners at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday, winning with a score of 41-17 (Olivia Bergmeier | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State football team will open up Big 12 play on Saturday at West Virginia. K-State held its weekly press conference on Tuesday, and two talking points were how the defense will stop West Virginia’s Heisman hopeful quarterback Will Grier and the improvement K-State’s offense saw on Saturday.

“He was pretty good to begin with, but you see him getting better,” head coach Bill Snyder said. “That’s what this game is all about, and I see the improvement in so many different ways, and most people see it the same way. He manages the process and the game as well as any.”

The defense will have its hands full with Grier, but this team has seen him before.

“Well, it prepares us to become more aware in our pass rush, making sure we’re aware of where he’s at at all times because you know he’s got great awareness on where we’re at,” junior defensive lineman Joe Davies said. “So, we have to have the same amount of awareness as to where he’s going to be. We’ll make sure we’re prepared for that.”

West Virginia has arguably one of the most potent offensives in the Big 12, so K-State will have to be at their best to stop it.

“If anything, we think they’ve improved since last season,” Davies said. “Will Grier has gotten a lot better, and we just want to make sure he doesn’t try to scramble all over us again like he did last year. Coming in, we’re going to expect another dogfight because these past two games they’ve been pretty close, within a score. So, we’re just going to fight for all four quarters and finish.”

K-State opens up as more than a two-touchdown underdog, but that doesn’t phase any of the players.

“I honestly didn’t know that number,” junior wide receiver Dalton Schoen said. “It is what it is and I think it’s a great challenge we have going on the road to play a great team.”

The offense appeared to be in much better shape on Saturday in a 41-17 win over the UTSA Roadrunners. In that game, redshirt sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson took a majority of snaps after splitting time with junior Alex Delton through the first two games.

Senior offensive lineman Dalton Risner said he thinks it’s best to go with one guy primarily at the quarterback position.

“I think it helps with you’re not getting rotated out,” Risner said. “I love both our quarterbacks and they’re both capable of playing at the D-1 level, but it’s hard for a guy like Skylar to get rolling when he makes a bad play and he gets taken out and a new quarterback comes in.”

The last time that K-State played on the road against it Big 12 team, it upset then-No. 10 Oklahoma State. In that game, Thompson shined. A redshirt freshman at the time, he completed 10-of-13 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 93 yards and one touchdown.

Snyder answered a question about the experience Thompson has playing on the road.

“Guys have good days and not so good days, and I think he is a pretty poised young guy,” Snyder said. “He’s a young guy that can stay within the boundaries that you provide for him.”

Another big talking point on Tuesday was a change among the offensive coaching staff. Last Saturday against UTSA, offensive coordinator Andre Coleman was back on the sideline after being on the field for the first two games, and co-offensive coordinator Collin Klein was in the press box.

Snyder addressed that change on Tuesday.

“It was just a matter to see if we could enhance the communication and the use of eyes,” Snyder said. “[We were] just making sure all bases were covered and everyone is in the best position to do what they have to do. There are some things that have some detail to them that you can see from the sidelines that you can’t see from the box and vice versa.”

The Wildcats and Mountaineers will kick off at 2:30 p.m. CDT on Saturday. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1.