"I told them I'm going to be honest with them. If I felt something, I was going to tell them immediately. It wasn't something I was going to play around with.
"It's my last game here, so it would mean a lot for me to play."
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FIELD POSITION and perhaps even the mood of the game will be determined by the two punters Saturday. The Mountaineers have sophomore Nick O'Toole, a junior college transfer who is averaging 43.6 yards on 70 punts. WVU is No. 7 nationally in net punting (40.6 yards).
Iowa State's Kirby Van Der Kamp is known as one of nation's best, despite averaging just 41.8 yards on 80 punts as a senior. He averaged 41 yards last year, 42.66 as a sophomore and 45.17 as a freshman. His career average of 42.5 yards is No. 21 in NCAA history.
He's also 5-for-5 on fake punts in his career. Van Der Kamp has run for a first down four times - one last season against WVU and at the expense of would-be tackler Jordan Thompson - and this season passed once on fourth down.
"We offered him a scholarship he accepted when he hadn't even punted yet for his high school team," Coach Paul Rhoads said. "He was going to be a senior that year and he wasn't the punter. He hadn't been their guy. His high school coach to this day says, 'I never would have expected he would have accomplished the things he's accomplished.'"
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THE CYCLONES have the Big 12's worst run defense, allowing the most yards per game (225.09), yards per carry (5.31) and touchdowns (31). They've also given up 23 runs of at least 20 yards - one shy of what Kansas has allowed this season.
Iowa State has also allowed the quarterbacks at Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Oklahoma 89, 95 and 149 yards on the ground.
"They've given up big runs, but it's not like teams have consistently run the ball on them," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "They stop them, stop them, stop them and then they have a big run that kind of skews the stats a little bit. A lot of the time they have that one big run it's because of one mishap. I don't sit there and view it - because I've watched so much of them - that they have a weak run defense. They really are gap sound and they play well, but there are instances in a game where they break down and give up a big run or somebody just makes a big play."
Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mi...@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.