MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- West Virginia University's defense will be picked apart during the off week, though for a change by the coaches and not the opposition, as has been the case the preceding four weeks in the Big 12.
It is a group that is near the bottom of the national rankings in total defense (No. 113 of 120), scoring defense (No. 115) and passing defense (No. 120) and has nearly exhausted the supply of adjectives to describe it and answers to fix it.
It is not the lone culprit in a two-game losing streak.
The Mountaineers, who are improbably ranked No. 25 by the Associated Press and No. 22 by the coaches despite being outscored 104-28 the past two weeks, have a new question to consider: What happened to the offense?
"I don't know that I have the answer," WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "If I did, I would have answered it in the game."
WVU (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) managed just 243 yards of offense in Saturday's 55-14 loss to No. 4 Kansas State (7-0, 4-0), the worst total in Coach Dana Holgorsen's 20 games and the second-lowest total since the 13-9 loss to Pitt in 2007 that kept the Mountaineers from playing for the national championship.
The 155 yards passing combined between Geno Smith and Paul Millard was by far the fewest for a Holgorsen team since he began his Division I coaching career as an assistant at Texas Tech in 2000.
"We've reached our low," said Smith, who was sacked four times, threw his first two interceptions of the season and passed for just 143 yards, the third-lowest total of his career as a starter. "This is about as low as it gets. I've never had to deal with adversity of this magnitude. I've never lost two games in this manner."
The offense that had been averaging 52 points and 578 yards when it was 5-0, ranked No. 5 and riding a nine-game winning streak, has managed just three touchdowns since. That had not happened across two games since struggles against Syracuse and at Connecticut in 2010, the last time WVU had back-to-back losses.
WVU has only 651 yards of offense the past two games, fewer than what it totaled in separate games against Marshall and Baylor this season and the lowest two-game total since games at Pitt and Louisville in November, 2010.
"I didn't forget how to coach offense," Holgorsen said. "The schemes are the same and they've been successful for a long time."
The Mountaineers have explanations they are careful not to label excuses. They remain without running back Shawne Alston, who hasn't started since the second week of the season and played just a few snaps the following week before vanishing. Receiver Stedman Bailey was limited against Kansas State by a bad ankle and caught four passes. WVU also benched starting right tackle Pat Eger in favor of Nick Kindler, though that didn't solve continued issues in run and pass blocking.
WVU has also played better defenses the past two weeks after facing two of the nation's worst in Baylor (No. 120) and Texas (No. 107). Yet Texas Tech (No. 7) and Kansas State (No. 23) didn't follow the same formula to shut down WVU.