www.charlestondailymail.com WVU Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers WVU FOOTBALL: With QB job, Holgorsen will look at 'body of work' http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141124/DM03/141129558 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141124/DM03/141129558 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 21:29:44 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - All Dana Holgorsen will say about his quarterback for the regular-season finale against Iowa State is Clint Trickett won't lose his job because of how he has played lately.

Trickett left last week's loss to Kansas State with a concussion and hasn't thrown a touchdown pass since the opening drive of the loss to TCU on Nov. 1. Skyler Howard threw two touchdowns and passed for 198 yards after replacing Trickett in the third quarter of last Thursday's home game against the Wildcats.

The Mountaineers coach said afterward he'd "absolutely" consider revisiting Howard's role after watching the film and seeing the quarterbacks in practice. Holgorsen sounded different on Monday's Big 12 conference call.

"I'm not in the business of replacing people because they had a bad game or because of an average performance," Holgorsen said. "I'm very happy with how Skyler went in there and played. He sparked us. There's no disputing that. That being said, you've got to treat your starting quarterback probably a little different than the rest of your players."

Who starts when WVU (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) plays the Cyclones (2-8, 0-7) at noon Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium (Fox Sports 1) will be decided later, either after Trickett visits with team doctors who decide he can't play, or after a healthy Trickett and Howard go through the week's three practices, the first of which is Tuesday.

Holgorsen is likely to keep the decision to himself, as has been his practice the past two seasons. Previously, he has revealed it on his Thursday night radio show, but that show is Tuesday this week. An announcement there would give Iowa State a head start on preparing for WVU, meaning the call on Trickett or Howard might not come much before game time.

Iowa State lost to Texas Tech and backup quarterback Pat Mahomes, who wasn't announced as the starter for Davis Webb until shortly before kickoff.

"You've got to look at the body of work with both quarterbacks and what has changed from a play-call standpoint and a scheme standpoint, but certainly all their other players will be out there and they're all very good players for West Virginia," Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said.

"I happened to see (the switch) on television when it occurred and I saw a quarterback come off the bench and absolutely play with a great amount of confidence and deliver the ball accurately and really play up to the opportunity. I don't have any doubt that if he's the one who gets the call, that's what he'll do again."

Howard led the Mountaineers to a touchdown on his first drive, completing all four of his throws for 56 yards and scrambling 16 yards to convert a third down just before his 7-yard touchdown pass to Kevin White. He'd later watch Mario Alford catch a short pass and turn it into a 53-yard touchdown before guiding WVU down the field for a field goal that made the score 26-20 late in the fourth quarter.

The Mountaineers attempted an onside kick, but the Wildcats recovered after leading 20-3 when Howard entered. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he was "impressed" with the junior college transfer from Riverside City (Calif.) College.

"I've always admired Clint and I feel badly about his injury, but I thought the young man came in and did awfully well," Snyder said of Howard. "We really didn't know what to expect from him, but he threw it, he was poised and he was a running threat as well. He made a significant difference in the second half of the ball game."

Trickett, meanwhile, has slumped in WVU's three-game losing streak and since one moment in particular. He started the TCU game 7 for 9 for 77 yards and a touchdown and at that point in the season stood at 225 for 328 (68.6 percent) for 2,840 yards, 18 touchdowns and five interceptions.

WVU led 10-0 lead in the first quarter and then recovered a pooch kick. Trickett scrambled on first down and was tackled by the facemask by defensive end Josh Carraway. Trickett's head hit hard, he was wobbly when he jumped up to his feet and no penalty was called.

Since that play, Trickett, who had two concussions last season, is 56 for 81 (61.5 percent) for 445 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions. He has run and been sacked more often and the yards per attempt average that was 8.6 before the questionable tackle has dropped to 5.5. His two-plus quarters against the Wildcats ranked high among his worst performances of this season or last, and he finished 12 for 25 for 112 yards and mixed in some erratic throws with two interceptions.

"I think Clint's done a good job a majority of the year," Holgorsen said. "He didn't have his best game this past week and I know he was a little disappointed with that, but Clint has been our starting quarterback and has played at a high level and done lots of great things and I appreciate all the things he's been able to do for us."

Howard was initially slated to redshirt this season, but that changed when freshman William Crest, who had been the backup, was lost for the season to a shoulder injury. Holgorsen had singled Howard out as someone who played well during practices designated for backups and redshirts, and Howard made good on those words against the Wildcats.

Holgorsen said he called whatever he wanted and didn't have to slow down for Howard to digest and share the calls from the sideline. Howard also moved around better than Trickett and was able to get outside of the pressure in the pocket and either get set to throw or throw on the run to move the ball.

His teammates and coaches were fans of how Howard's legs gave the offense a boost, and Rhoads is just as worried about that if it's Howard in charge Saturday.

"I've always hated quarterbacks who are active and can scramble and ad lib on a play because you can't defend that on paper," he said. "The designed quarterback runs, even though the offense gains a numerical advantage, you can at least try to scheme that, but plays like the quarterback draw in addition to scramble throws and scramble runs, you're at the mercy of somebody trying to make a play."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142 His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

Mountaineers debut at No. 21 in AP hoops poll http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141124/DM03/141129628 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141124/DM03/141129628 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 13:40:10 -0500


CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The West Virginia University men's basketball program is back in the national rankings for the first time since 2011.

The undefeated Mountaineers, who defeated defending national champion Connecticut on Sunday night in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off event, debuted in the Associated Press poll at No. 21. WVU was last ranked on March 14, 2011 (No. 22) before that year's NCAA tournament.

The Mountaineers are off to a 5-0 start with wins over Monmouth, Lafayette, George Mason, Boston College and UConn. It is the best start for a Bob Huggins team since the 2011 squad began the season 11-0. That team finished 31-7 and reached the Final Four.

WVU next plays this Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center against VMI. The Mountaineers then return home for games against College of Charleston (Saturday, 7:30 p.m.) and LSU (Thursday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.).

Mountaineers take down UConn http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141123/ARTICLE/141129650 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141123/ARTICLE/141129650 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:46:55 -0500


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Juwan Staten had 23 points and West Virginia held off several second-half runs to beat No. 17 Connecticut 78-68 in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

Jonathan Holton and Daxter Miles, Jr. added 10 points each.

The Mountaineers (5-0) never trailed in the game, and forced Connecticut into 19 turnovers in the victory over their former Big East Conference rivals.

Staten was named the tournament Most Valuable Player. Teammate Devin Williams also joined him on the all-tournament team.

Ryan Boatright led the Huskies (3-1) with 17 points. Daniel Hamilton added 15 points and 11 rebounds. But Hamilton also led the team with eight turnovers.

Boatright and Hamilton also made the all-tournament team, along with Dayton's Jordan Siebert and George Mason's Shevon Thompson.

The Mountaineers led by 15 in the first half and managed to counter several mini-runs by the Huskies in the second half.

Connecticut got it down to 50-44 on a basket by Daniel Hamilton. But a steal and layup by Gary Browne silenced the Huskies fans and set up a period that saw Connecticut score just one field go over about a 5 minute span.

After The Huskies cut the lead to 64-54 with 6:15 to play, Browne again came up big with a 3-pointer.

The Huskies make the Mountaineers pay for extending their defensive pressure full court, getting easy dunks on the other end. More often, though, it was Connecticut that seemed to come unglued on the offensive end after expending energy to attack West Virginia's pressure.

West Virginia went to its pressure early, forcing 10 first-half turnovers, and turning them in 14 points on the other end on the way to a 47-32 halftime lead.

The Mountaineers got easy looks at the basket in the period, scoring 20 points in the paint, while holding the Huskies to 2 for 11 from the 3-point line.


Connecticut: The Huskies didn't help their cause at the free throw line where they were just 9 for 18. The also continued a Tip-Off trend of no eventual champion having trailed at halftime of the title game.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers finished with 11 steals. They also had 14 assists and their 28 field goals.


The Huskies host Texas on Nov. 30. The Mountaineers host College of Charleston on Nov. 29.

WVU FOOTBALL: Late-season swoon overcomes Mountaineers http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141123/DM03/141129654 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141123/DM03/141129654 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:19:55 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - There is a chill in the air, there are leaves on the ground and West Virginia is a team raking up losses at the end of the season. Apart from that, the Mountaineers aren't showing many signs of a team in late fall.

They are instead in another freefall, one extended by last week's loss to No. 11 Kansas State and one plagued by problems that ought spring up in spring football. This is why the head coach summons adjectives like "horrible," "garbage," "horrendous" and the kind-by-comparison "very below-average" to describe what he witnessed.

"We didn't get the job done, and that's on me," Dana Holgorsen said. "I've got to do something different. I've got to do something better."

True, all of it, and certainly he's drawn his share of criticism for when, where and how he decides to kick field goals or go for first downs on fourth down or calls timeouts or just accept the score on the board and head to the locker room for halftime, to say nothing of that meaningful matter of having his team ready to play.

Yet it's also not worth arguing that he'd be helped if his players gave him some help, a tall task against the string of opponents the Mountaineers have played, but one that's made easier if they make what are or were or should be routine plays.

Mired in a three-game losing streak for a third straight season, shrouded by a 2-9 record in November since joining the Big 12 in the 2012 season, WVU (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) committed four more turnovers against the Wildcats. Each was troubling, and not merely because they happened in a loss.

Each one seemed to be beneath a team that beat No. 5 Baylor by two touchdowns and looked like it deserved a chance to win the conference championship, but now heads to Saturday's noon game at Iowa State (2-8, 0-7) trying to lock up a winning record.

WVU has 26 turnovers and only Idaho (27), Georgia State (27), Eastern Michigan (28) and New Mexico State (32) have more, and they've combined to win as many games as the Mountaineers.

Thursday's first turnover was brutal as running back Wendell Smallwood simply dropped a handoff from quarterback Clint Trickett at Kansas State's 2-yard line in the first quarter. The Wildcats recovered and WVU needed another two quarters before it would score.

"We're at the point of the season," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said, "where we shouldn't have to be talking about that."

Now, don't assume Smallwood robbed the offense of a touchdown. The same offense imploded on the Texas goal line in the first quarter 12 days earlier in a key moment in a 33-16 loss. The Mountaineers shuffled away from that scenario with three points, one of 20 times in 43 possessions in the red zone that they didn't score a touchdown. Smallwood's third fumble of the season was the ninth time WVU didn't score in the red zone.

Smallwood wasn't finished, but his misery would soon have company when WVU handed Kansas State a 17-3 lead late in the first half. Punter Nick O'Toole stood in his end zone and hooked a ball to the left. Everyone else in blue was streaming to the right and that became a real problem when Tyler Lockett, arguably the best special teams returner in the nation and inarguably leading the nation in yards per punt return now, caught the ball on the left with a blocker in front of him.

"Horrible punt," Holgorsen said.

How horrible?

"I could've scored," Holgorsen said.

The kick was supposed to go right and Lockett was supposed to race over to catch it and the plan should have given WVU time to surround Lockett. It was instead the easiest punt return touchdown imaginable for player the opponent was deliberately trying to avoid.

"That's not a coaching error," Holgorsen said. "That's a player error. We talk about it all the time: If we send the entire team right, you need to punt it right. He missed. It went left. He wasn't confused."

Receiver Mario Alford nearly lost the ball on the kickoff return, but managed to hang on and return it to the 19 with 1:06 left in the half and two timeouts in Holgorsen's pocket. A pass gained 13 yards and took 12 seconds before going out of bounds. A run gained 4 yards and the next snap happened with 34 seconds remaining. That pass play gained 2 yards and went out of bounds at the 45 with 27 seconds remaining, and WVU was at worst alive for a field goal, never mind Josh Lambert barely made a 47-yarder and missed a 40-yarder earlier in the quarter.

Trickett then threw too high across the middle and then so softly into the flat that cornerback Randall Evans read the play and erased the 10 yards that stood between him and the running back when Trickett began his throwing motion. Evans should have scored, but Trickett made a desperation tackle, and likely took the hit that caused the concussion that forced him out of the game in the third quarter.

The Wildcats missed a 34-yard field goal to end the half, but Trickett started the third quarter and runs by Rushel Shell and Smallwood had the ball deep in Kansas State territory. Trickett looked for Smallwood on first down from the 27, but instead threw it to safety Dante Barnett, who was behind the play.

"Clint thought Wendell was going to stay on the move, but Wendell throttled it down," Dawson said. "It was just a miscommunication. We throw and catch that route I can't tell you how many times. That should be routine."

The Wildcats turned that into a field goal and would do the same after another WVU special teams turnovers, which shouldn't be routine. Trickett left the game, Skyler Howard was 4 for 4 for 56 yards and a 7-yard touchdown pass on his first drive and the defense forced the second punt of the quarter.

The Mountaineers tried to block it and four players were close. One crashed into the punter for a personal foul, but the ball still went 42 yards and had enough momentum to roll around and hit the returner, Vernon Davis, who is the team's third returner and the third to make a mess of bouncing balls. The Wildcats recovered at WVU's 16.

"I've been coaching them for two weeks and everything you see out there is a direct result what I've been telling them, and I can assure you I've told them to get away from the ball if you're not going to field it," Holgorsen said. "I don't know why he did that. I've got no explanation. I promise you, I've told him 20 times the last two weeks. He knows it.

"Now, he's been doing a great job fielding punts and making up some ground and being confident. For whatever reason, he didn't field the punt and he didn't get away. I don't have an answer for you for why he did that I doubt he does either."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 3049-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

WVU BASKETBALL: Holmes named Preseason WNIT All-Tournament http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141123/DM03/141129656 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141123/DM03/141129656 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:01:02 -0500


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University guard Bria Holmes was named to the Preseason WNIT All-Tournament Team, as announced by the event organizers on Sunday.

Holmes, the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year, averaged 25.7 points in the three contests. She finished the tournament shooting 40.9 percent (27-of-66) from the field, while averaging 3.3 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 1.0 blocks.

The New Haven, Connecticut native became the first Mountaineer to score 35 or more points in a game since 2005 with her 36 against Seton Hall last Monday. Holmes has reached double-figures in seven consecutive games dating back to last season.

No. 17/16-ranked WVU reached the Preseason WNIT semifinals with wins over Eastern Kentucky (67-42) and Seton Hall (89-87). The Mountaineers fell 74-61 at Mississippi State on Nov. 20.

West Virginia returns to action at 7 p.m. on Wedn

WVU BASKETBALL: UConn suspends four before title game against Mountaineers http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141123/DM03/141129674 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141123/DM03/141129674 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 18:35:02 -0500


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Connecticut has suspended four players in advance of its matchup with West Virginia in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

The school announced Sunday that Omar Calhoun, Rakim Lubin and walk-ons Dan Guest, and Marcel Lewis have been suspended due to a violation of team rules.

Their status will be reevaluated following the game and the No. 17 Huskies' return home, the school said in a statement. It added that the university, including coaches and players, would have no further comment on the matter.

Only Lubin has seen action in the Huskies first three games of the season and was averaging five minutes per game

WVU BASKETBALL: Mountaineers rally to beat BC; UConn up next in title game http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141121/DM03/141129765 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141121/DM03/141129765 Fri, 21 Nov 2014 20:15:19 -0500


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Devin Williams, Juwan Staten and Jevon Carter had 15 points apiece as West Virginia rallied in the second half to top Boston College 70-66 in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off Friday.

The Mountaineers shot less than 30 percent in the first half, but shot 62 percent in the final 20 minutes.

They also had 10 steals while forcing 21 Eagles' turnovers.

Olivier Hanlan led Boston College with 23 points. Patrick Heckmann added 14 points and seven rebounds.

Boston College shot the ball well and scored 40 points in the paint, but allowed West Virginia 17 second-chance points.

The Mountaineers chipped away at what had been a 12-pont deficit to take their first lead of the night, 50-48, on a layup by Carter midway through the second half.

The lead grew as high as six before a free throw by Hanlan got the Eagles back within 60-58 with less than four minutes to play.

After Eagles' center Dennis Clifford fouled out, West Virginia attacked the lane, scoring five straight points to push its lead back to seven.

The Eagles weren't done, surging again with back-to-back baskets.

West Virginia missed a layup out of a timeout, and Aaron Brown found Hanlan for a layup. He was fouled on the play, but missed the tying free throw.

Carter grabbed the rebound and found Devin Williams, who was fouled on a layup. He converted on his free throw to put the Mountaineers back up 68-64.

Boston College had one more chance, trailing 69-66 after Patrick Heckmann hit a pair of free throws, but the Eagles would lose a scramble for the ball and were forced to foul.


Boston College: Both teams had 10 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, but the Eagles were able to inch out to a 32-21 halftime advantage shooting 56 percent from the field (13 for 23).

West Virginia: This will be West Virginia coach Bobby Huggins fourth time coaching in the championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. He won it twice as Cincinnati's head coach.


West Virginia plays No. 17 Connecticut in the championship game Sunday. Boston College gets Dayton in the third place game.

Chuck McGill: November stays cruel to Mountaineers http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141121/DM03/141129826 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141121/DM03/141129826 Fri, 21 Nov 2014 00:20:06 -0500 By Chuck McGill MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - This wasn't the reversal of fortune for which the West Virginia University football team had hoped in this, the cruelest of months.

No. 12 Kansas State wasn't one of the Big 12's best here at Milan Puskar Stadium on Thursday night, but it didn't have to be. Little went WVU's way in a 26-20 loss. It seemed like the final margin should've been closer to the 32-point average by which K-State won the past two meetings. There was the usual litany of special teams gaffes and the injury that sidelined WVU quarterback Clint Trickett for all but one series of the second half of his final game at Mountaineer Field.

Another late-season swoon has Dana Holgorsen's program reeling into Thanksgiving week. This is the fourth three-game losing skid in the past three seasons, and West Virginia is now 2-9 in conference games played in November the last three seasons.

"Tough team to beat," Holgorsen said. "Can't make too many mistakes; made too many mistakes."

Indeed, the Mountaineers seemed to invent new ways of detriment. Like a roughing the punter penalty that would've given Kansas State a first down if not for WVU punt returner Vernon Davis fumbling the punt downfield and giving the Wildcats choice field position.

This was WVU's first scoreless opening quarter of the season, Trickett misfired on more than 50 percent of his passes (12 of 25) with two interceptions before a concussion cost him senior night. There were four turnovers total (two picks and two fumbles). Kansas State scored with 72 seconds left of the first half on a 43-yard punt return by Tyler Lockett, who also had 10 receptions for 196 yards as the Wildcats' passing game again had its way with West Virginia.

In three Big 12 meetings, K-State quarterbacks have combined to pile up these numbers against WVU: 60 for 78, 1,024 yards, eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.

It didn't matter that K-State rushed for only one yard on 29 carries, or had more than 100 yards in penalties for the first time since Bill Snyder returned to coach the Wildcats in 2009.

Yes, this was a bizarre one, even going back to an overturned touchdown in the second quarter that initially appeared to be a game-tying opportunity.

The play started with Trickett zipping a pass to receiver Jordan Thompson, who watched the ball deflect off his hands inside the 10-yard line and right to safety Dante Barnett, who tumbled to the ground. As Barnett rolled over, the ball went right into the hands of WVU's Biletnikoff finalist Kevin White, who plunged from the 2-yard line into the end zone to give the Mountaineers a chance to tie it at 10-10.

The ball, however, touched the ground when Barnett tried to intercept it at the 4-yard line, and WVU had to settle for a 40-yard field goal that Josh Lambert pushed wide right.

The 47,683 who braved the 25-degree temperatures, the third-lowest home crowd in Holgorsen's four seasons as coach, watched the momentum swing to the visitors.

"We should've been winning at halftime," Holgorsen said.

Instead, K-State held a 17-3 advantage at the break and the program has now won 46 in a row when leading at intermission.

It seemed like the Mountaineers were going to test that streak, even with junior college transfer Skyler Howard getting his first meaningful snaps, which would've been the type of ending that pushed the team past the November struggles.

If WVU had defeated Kansas State, the team's record-tying fifth nationally ranked opponent this season, it would've given Holgorsen and the program a pair of wins over top-12 teams. Only the 1993 Mountaineers, with wins over No. 4 Miami and No. 11 Boston College in November, had accomplished that feat.

Instead, the Mountaineers are 6-5 overall after flirting with Big 12 title aspirations at the end of October. Next Saturday at Iowa State, Holgorsen's 50th game as head coach, WVU will need to win to finish with its first Big 12 record above .500 since joining the league.

Holgorsen is 27-22 overall, but 12-19 in his last 31 games.

"Didn't get the job done," he said Thursday night. "That's on me."

He sees how close his program is to contending in the Big 12, though. He understands how five of 11 regular-season games against teams ranked in the top 12 will show his team the way.

Sometimes it's as close as the nose of the ball, like on the reversed touchdown.

"We're going to have to beat those teams if we want to win the Big 12," Holgorsen said. "We're coming up a little bit short."

WVU FOOTBALL: Kansas State tops Mountaineers in Morgantown http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141121/DM03/141129829 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141121/DM03/141129829 Fri, 21 Nov 2014 00:13:41 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - No. 12 Kansas State was about as beatable as a ranked team can be Thursday night, but West Virginia wouldn't hear of it.

The Mountaineers allowed a punt return touchdown and fumbled away a punt return that led to a field goal. They committed one of their four turnovers on the goal line, had some of their nine penalties at uncooperative times and also lost their starting quarterback to injury in a 26-20 loss before a crowd of 47,683 at Mountaineer Field.

It was the third-smallest crowd in coach Dana Holgorsen's four seasons.

The Wildcats finished with 1 yard rushing on 29 carries and nothing longer than 8 yards and were 1-for-11 on third down in the final three quarters. The one conversion was an important one on a field-goal drive late in the fourth quarter to put KSU up by nine points. The second-least penalized team in the country was called for nine penalties for 97 yards, the most penalty yardage since 2010.

Wildcats quarterback Jake Waters completed 22 of 33 passes for 400 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Tyler Lockett caught 10 passes for 196 yards. In three games in his career against WVU, the senior caught 27 passes for 511 yards and five scores.

"I don't normally do this, but I went up to Lockett after the game and said, "I'm really glad you're graduating,'" Holgorsen said. "The kid's a special, special football player. He's done it to us three years in a row. He's as good as it gets."

WVU played most of the second half without quarterback Clint Trickett, who struggled with two interceptions and 125 yards on 12 for 25 passing and left with a concussion. His replacement, Skyler Howard, was 15 for 23 for 198 yards and two scores. Holgorsen said the coaching staff will consider if or how much Howard will play in the regular-season finale after watching the film and getting a read on Trickett's availability.

"If you want to talk about something positive, that's something that's incrediblly positive," Holgorsen said. "He went in there and didn't bat an eye. He was confident. He was comfortable. I could have went as fast to or as slow as I wanted to. The communication was perfect."

Kevin White caught seven passes for 63 yards and a touchdown and Alford had four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown.

WVU (6-5, 4-4 Big 12) trailed 23-10 in the fourth quarter, but was given reason to believe when KSU stalled in the red zone and then missed a 22-yard field goal. Howard hurried WVU down the field and finished an 80-yard touchdown drive with a 53-yard scoring pass to Alford.

Senior Mike Molinari then sailed the kickoff out of bounds with 7:23 to go and the Wildcats (8-2, 6-1) began at their 35-yard line after the penalty. They converted their first third down of the second half on third-and-9 with a 28-yard pass to Lockett. He'd add a 17-yard reception to set up Mike McCrane's 32-yard field goal with 2:52 remaining for a 26-17 lead.

Howard moved WVU into field goal position and Josh Lambert made a 25-yard kick with 53 seconds to go, but the Wildcats recovered the onside kick.

WVU is now 1-4 against top-12 teams this season with the losses coming by 10, 12, 1 and 6 points.

"I feel as though we're more frustrated because we know what we're capable of doing and that we can go out there and beat these teams to that we lost to," safety K.J. Dillon said. "To come up short is not a good feeling."

The Mountaineers, who were bowl eligible a month ago and four games above .500, will limp into the final game of the regular season at Iowa State next week trying to simply clinch a winning record. They have a three-game losing streak for the third straight season, a stretch the school hasn't seen since 1999-2001 - the final two years with Don Nehlen as the coach and the first with Rich Rodriguez.

Trickett left the field for the locker room after the first drive in the second half and did not return. Howard promptly led the offense on an eight-play, 79-yard touchdown drive. He was 4 for 4 for 56 yards and scrambled 16 yards. Howard completed a 28-yard pass to Daikiel Shorts on third-and-2 and then ran 16 yards on third-and-6 to give the Mountaineers a first down on KSU's 11. He capped the drive with a 7-yard touchdown pass to White.

The defense forced punt, but roughed the punter on a kick that still went 42 yards and then watched receiver Vernon Davis fumble it away at his 16. The Wildcats had first-and-goal at the 3, but McCrane ended up kicking a field goal for a 23-10 lead.

WVU drove and converted a pair of fourth downs, the first at midfield and the second from KSU's 32. With 12:29 left in the game, the Mountaineers went for it again on fourth-and-7 and Howard's pass was incomplete. Waters completed a 54 yards pass - his fourth completion of at least 30 yards in the game - to Lockett, but KSU would come up empty when McCrane missed from up close and leave the door open for the Mountaineers.

"They couldn't run the ball," defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said, "but obviously they didn't need to."

WVU began the game by punting on its first drive, the ninth time in 10 games the Wildcats haven't allowed points on the opening possession. Their offense then shrugged off some issues on the first drive. After a 32-yard pass play to the WVU 19-yard line, a personal foul penalty set up first-and-25. KSU converted that with an 11-yard gain to the 8 on third-and-10, but then lost 4 yards on first down. On third down, Waters wiggled out of the pocket and fit a pass into the right side of the end zone to running back DeMarcus Robinson for a 7-yard touchdown.

The Mountaineers then got a drive going with some help from the Wildcats, the team with the second-fewest penalties in the nation. A facemask on the first play moved the ball 15 yards, but WVU would soon turn a second-and-5 into third-and-13 when Trickett was sacked and Jordan Thompson was flagged for encroachment for lining up offsides. Trickett still moved the chains with a 16-yard pass to White, and pass interference on the Wildcats in the end zone gave WVU a first down at the 2.

Just when the Wildcats looked a little vulnerable, WVU turned the ball over when running back Wendell Smallwood simply dropped a handoff safety Dylan Schnellenberg recovered at the 3.

"You can't beat a team like Kansas State if you can't hand the ball off," offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said.

After trading punts, KSU moved the ball again with a 49-yard pass to tight end Zach Trujillo, and pass interference on Dillon moved the ball to the WVU 10. The Wildcats lost 13 yards on a bad option pitch from Waters on second down and had a pass go through Kody Cook's arms in the end zone before they settled for a 36-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.

WVU found the scoreboard on the next possession with a 47-yard field goal, one that barely made it over the bar. On the kickoff return, WVU's Justin Arndt stripped KSU's Tyler Lockett and WVU's Dayron Wilson recovered at the 22. On third-and-11, Trickett threw to Thompson, who could only put a hand on it. The pass floated toward the ground and safety Dante Barnett dived for it, but batted it into the air. White grabbed it and lunged over the goal line for a touchdown.

Officials reviewed the play, though, and found the ball hit the ground as Barnett reached for it and before he tipped it to White. Lambert then missed a 40-yard field goal to the right.

The Mountaineers allowed a 30-yard pass before forcing a punt, but White lost 2 yards on a screen pass and then his offensive pass interference backed the offense up half the distance to the goal line. Shell lost a yard and KSU called a timeout with 1:30 left in the half, but WVU decided to pass and was lucky that linebacker Elijah Lee's tipped pass wasn't intercepted near the goal line. Punter Nick O'Toole then pushed a punt to the left while the coverage team went right and Lockett needed just one block for a 48-yard return and a 17-3 lead.

WVU continued to push with 1:06 to go in the half, but did pick up a first down and had the ball at its 45. Trickett then threw a soft pass a she moved to his right that was intercepted on the run by cornerback Randall Evans. Trickett saved a certain touchdown with a tackle and the Mountaineers somehow escaped the disaster when nose guard Kyle Rose blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt as the half ended.

The Wildcats have now won 46 straight games they've led at the half, the second-best streak in the country and trailing Oklahoma by just one.

WVU BASKETBALL: Mountaineers top George Mason in Puerto Rico http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141120/DM03/141129840 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141120/DM03/141129840 Thu, 20 Nov 2014 22:41:27 -0500


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - Devin Williams had 16 points and 10 rebounds as West Virginia dominated George Mason 91-65 in the first round of Puerto Rico Tip-Off on Thursday.

Johnathan Holton added 16 points and seven rebounds. As a team the Mountaineers (3-0) finished with 16 steals and forced 24 turnovers by the Patriots (1-2)

For Williams it was his third straight double-double. It was the 11th of the sophomore's career.

Williams played sparingly in the final 20 minutes being sent to the floor after a collision underneath the basket. But he was able to walk off under his own power.

Patrick Holloway led the Patriots with 17 points.

West Virginia used its quickness in the first half to speed up George Mason's offense, racking up 10 steals and forcing 16 Patriots' turnovers. Those turnovers led to 19 Mountaineers' points, including several dunks.

The dominance extended inside the paint, where West Virginia outscored George Mason 24-8 for the half and 40-26 for the game.

George Mason entered the game having committed just 18 turnovers combined in its first two outings.

* * *

TO GO ALONG with its turnover problems, the Patriots also struggled from the free throw line, connecting on just 16 of their 32 attempts. ...This is George Mason's second appearance in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, having played in the event in 2009.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers improved to 4-0 all-time against George Mason. ...West Virginia has now won 84 of its last 101 games when scoring 70 or more points. ...This is the Mountaineers' third appearance in Puerto Rico. They won the 1997 San Juan Shootout and finished second in the 2010 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.

* * *

WEST VIRGINIA plays Boston College in second round on Friday. George Mason falls to the consolation bracket where it will meet New Mexico.

WVU WRESTLING: Mountaineer recruiting class ranked fifth http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141120/DM03/141129887 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141120/DM03/141129887 Thu, 20 Nov 2014 18:13:56 -0500


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - West Virginia University wrestling head coach Sammie Henson's first recruiting class is already making a mark on the program, as the first 12 signees have been named the nation's fifth-best recruiting class by FloWrestling.

Six of the Mountaineers' 12 signees have moved into the top-20 in the nation in their respective weight classes as they begin their senior prep campaigns.

West Virginia's first dual match foe of the season, Arizona State, earned top recruiting honors for 2015 with five signees in the top 10 of their respective weight. Big 12 foe Oklahoma State comes in second with seven top-20 signees. Minnesota and Ohio State rank third and fourth. The Golden Gophers landed four top-20 prospects, while the Buckeyes added four top-five signees.

WVU will head to Annapolis, Maryland, for the Navy Classic on Saturday.

WVU special teams has hands full with Lockett http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141120/DM03/141129954 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141120/DM03/141129954 Thu, 20 Nov 2014 08:44:17 -0500 MORGANTOWN - This has been a long season for Joe DeForest.

He is West Virginia's safeties coach, and it was a safety who failed an assignment when it mattered most against TCU and it was safeties who missed tackles and got caught out of position against Texas. Those are merely among the reasons the Mountaineers have lost two in a row for the first time this season.

He is also the special team's coordinator, and though place kicker Josh Lambert was named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, Lambert promptly missed two field goals against the Longhorns a few days later. WVU's kickoff return defense ranks No. 91 nationally. The punt return defense ranks No. 110. Those two combined to give up touchdowns in three straight games earlier this season.

But, again, it's been a long season.

"We've covered pretty well the past six or seven games," DeForest said, quite correctly.

The Mountaineers have allowed seven punt return yards since giving up a punt return touchdown against Kansas on Oct. 4. A week earlier, Oklahoma returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Since then, DeForest's team has given up just 19 yards per return, which would rank No. 31 nationally.

Once more: It's a long season and DeForest knows the end is nowhere near when WVU (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) plays host to No. 12 Kansas State at 7 p.m. Thursday on Fox Sports 1. Receiver Tyler Lockett, who's toyed with the WVU the past two seasons, is coming to Mountaineer Field and he's not coming alone.

"It's the biggest challenge of the year," DeForest said. "Oklahoma State was the biggest challenge, but this is just a step further."

Oklahoma State had Tyreek Hill, who you may have heard is fast. Like, Olympic fast. Remember that number 19 from earlier? Hill hit that mark, too - three punt returns, one kickoff return, 19 combined yards.

Despite the early touchdowns and the dependable debacles returning punts, the Mountaineers have actually done well to throw a net over the other team's returners for more than a month now.

But Lockett is just a different deal.

"He's probable the most dynamic kick returner and punt returner in the country," DeForest said.

He accentuated the word "and" on purpose. Punt returning and kickoff returning are separate skills that require and reward different abilities. It's not often one player does both, and if he does, it's usually because he's good at one and better than the alternatives at the other.

Lockett's great at one and great at the other. He has five return touchdowns in his career, one on a punt and four on kickoffs. The punt return score came this season, when he's returned 14 points. He returned 11 his first three years, so he's actually getting better on special teams in his final season with the Wildcats (7-2, 5-1).

"If he has any space, it's just like anything else he does - he's pretty dangerous," DeForest said. "He's the best player on their team as both a receiver and as a kick returner and a punt returner."

Lockett happens to also be a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist as a receiver this season, and in two games against WVU he has 19 receptions for 305 yards and five touchdowns. The Mountaineers are well aware of what he can do there, but they're no less concerned with the damage he can do on special teams.

Lockett has averaged 29.9 yards on 68 kickoff returns in his career. His career average would rank No. 6 nationally this season. He's averaged 13.9 yards on 25 punt returns in his career, which would rank No. 9 this season, but never mind that. His 18.7 yards per return this season, his first as the full-time returner, is No. 2.

"It's all about the other 10 guys," DeForest said. "They do a tremendous job blocking for him."

Special teams seem to encapsulate everything the Wildcats represent. They are disciplined. They are committed to a team-first concept. They don't commit penalties or turnovers. They make a big deal out of the small things, like field position and hidden yardage and also neutralizing the other side's special teams.

Kansas State has 94 non-offensive touchdowns since 1999, which leads the country and is six better than Frank Beamer's brand of ball at Virginia Tech. Someone has returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown in each of the past 10 seasons, a streak that, of course, leads the nation and is four years longer than the second-best run.

Last season, the Wildcats blocked five kicks, which was the fifth-best total nationally. They beat Oklahoma in Norman, Okla., earlier this season, 31-30, thanks in large part to Travis Britz blocking an extra point. He's blocked five in his career, including an extra point against the Mountaineers last season..

"Kansas State's special teams are the best in the league and have been for a long time," said DeForest, who spent 11 seasons in the Big 12 at Oklahoma State before coming to WVU in 2012. "They're the most consistent, blue collar, hard-working guys and they take pride in their roles, in field position, in straining each and every play.

"For the last 14 of 15 years, that's all I've ever seen from that unit. They live and breath by the blue-collar mentality, and that's not a slight. That's a compliment in every sense of the word. This will be our toughest matchup this year across the board."

WVU FOOTBALL: Defense hopes to reverse trend against Kansas State http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141119/DM03/141119041 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141119/DM03/141119041 Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:37:21 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - For whatever reason, Kansas State's quarterbacks have been impossibly good against West Virginia since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 before the 2012 season. Two starters and a backup have completed 38 of 44 attempts for 624 yards and seven touchdowns in a pair of Wildcats wins.

The challenge for defensive coordinator Tony Gibson is a little more complicated than merely making sure Kansas State throws more incomplete passes than touchdown passes for the first time, but that'd be a good start.

Fortunately for the Mountaineers, who play host to the 12th-ranked Wildcats at 7 p.m. tonight at Mountaineer Field, complicated is a good place to start when describing what they do.

"They give you difficulty because of the front that you see very seldomly through the course of the year, and it takes added preparation for that," Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said.

On the other side on Fox Sports 1 is a Kansas State defense that's a little easier to predict. WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said Wildcats tape from a decade ago is basically the same is what they showed 10 days ago.

"It's the same defense that we have seen out of them for the last couple of years, so nothing is new," Holgorsen said. "That's not the problem. Trying to figure out what they do is not the problem. Trying to effectively attack it is definitely a challenge."

The Mountaineers have improved their statistical standings significantly this season, the first with Gibson in charge and running the 3-3-5 odd stack he's learned to love. Three-player defensive lines are not the norm in college football, but most of the ones that do exist have four linebackers for a traditional 3-4. WVU has three linebackers and fills the open space with an extra defensive back.

That alignment of the linebackers and the fifth player in the secondary create new and unfamiliar obstacles for everyone on the offense to consider. Receivers see different alleys. Offensive linemen have to adjust their blocking assignments. Running backs meet defenders in unusual places. Quarterbacks have to account for the extra defender in the secondary and the unique angles pressure can start from at the snap.

Gibson likens his defense to an option offense at Navy or Georgia Tech that opponents might see once a year, but he cautioned that the 75-year-old Snyder has "been around longer than I've been alive, so I'm sure he's seen it before."

"Where we get so many looks out of it is our blitz game," Gibson said. "It's very multiple because we have eight guys on their feet at all time. Sometimes all 11 are standing up. That's different. It's hard to simulate."

Opponents try. That's why coaches watch film and prepare scout teams. WVU's defense knows how to disguise its looks and how to to keep the offense from figuring out what WVU is doing with coverage and pressure.

In short, the Mountaineers are better at what they do in a game than what an opponent's practice squad does during the week, which is a similar explanation for the Wildcats' success. They don't dabble in deceit before the snap. They just rely on their plays and the players.

"They're sound," WVU offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson said. "They don't get out of position much partly due to the fact that they don't do a lot. Those guys know where to line up and they know what to do, so they never have any breakdowns. Tempo does not affect them much. Auburn lined up fast, but they lined up just as fast because they know where to line up."

From there, it's still pretty simple. Kansas State (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) plays a zone defense most of the time and the defenders stick to their responsibilities. They've given up the fewest 25-yard pass plays (13) and the second-fewest 15-yard running plays (seven) in the Big 12.

If opponents know where the Wildcats will be at the start of a play and where they'll go after the snap -- which is what WVU's defense tries to avoid giving away -- then it should be easy to design and call plays to beat that scheme.

That's far from reality. The defenders keep plays in front of them and rally to tackle the ball-carrier. The big plays they do allow are usually because of missed tackles and not missed assignments.

"Because they make you move the ball, you're rarely going to get big plays on them," Mountaineers quarterback Clint Trickett said. "It's going to be one of those annoying games where you have to consistently drive the ball down the field, but it's very smart. It's why Coach Snyder is one of the best coaches in the history of college football. There's no secret behind it. They're just good at it because they're very well-coached." The Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3) have a secret, though. They want to look exotic and confusing. They try to show the quarterback something different every snap to keep him from getting a clue, never mind getting comfortable. The truth is WVU is actually fairly simple, too.

"We disguise a lot, but we play four or five coverages and that's it," Gibson said. "When we start blitzing people is where we come up with some different things. We've actually scaled back our coverages and picked up on our blitzes. That's kind of what our tradeoff has been. But if we're going to play one or two coverages and just show it to them, it's going to be pretty easy for them to pick up on it, and that's when you get a little scared. We mix it up and our kids have responded pretty well."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.

Mike Casazza: WVU bigs flourishing together http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141119/DM03/141119047 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141119/DM03/141119047 Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:33:59 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia men's basketball team might have the best player in the Big 12 and Bob Huggins might have a hodgepodge of players who can shoot the ball better than they have the first two games. The Mountaineers could turn back the clock and play the way they used to in their final days in the Big East and Huggins might revert to back when he'd dominate whatever conference Cincinnati was in at the time.

The greatest unknown about this team as it readies for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, a three-game event the Mountaineers begin Thursday with a 7:30 p.m. against George Mason on ESPNU, is what will become of the Jonathan Holton-Devin Williams duo. This is a peculiar pairing, alike and different in so many integral and irresistible ways, but bound by no greater reality than this: They hold the keys to the season.

"The way his energy and my energy mix, I swear to you we'll dominate the boards every game," Holton said.

What they mean to the team merely begins with rebounding. Last season, the Mountaineers were doomed by one particular and repetitive fate: If the first shot missed, the second shot wasn't around enough to bail them out of trouble. WVU took, made and missed a lot 3-pointers last season. Offenses face long odds getting long rebounds off those long misses.

WVU (2-0) has already taken, made and missed a lot of 3-pointers (14-for-62), but the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Williams already has two double-doubles this season, albeit against overmatched interiors. His first double-double stimulated the first for Holton, who was frankly jealous of the 15 rebounds Williams had in the opener against Monmouth.

Two days later, Holton had 10 rebounds in the first half against Lafayette and finished with 15, much to the playful dismay of Williams, who was trying to get a rest late in the blowout, but not before got another double-double.

"I had nine rebounds for like five or six minutes and Jon stole two or three more from me," Williams said. "But that's good. He continues to make me go out there and keep attacking the rim so I can get what I want."

Their similarities begin to branch there, though. The 6-7, 220-pound Holton said he's never really played next to a player as big and as good as Williams. Williams said he always played with someone by his side up until last year and that the absence probably hurt his performance.

Defensively, Williams is a large body who can crowd the paint and grab rebounds. Holton can answer the challenge of the Big 12's stretch forwards who float away from the basket and pull a defender with them. Williams probably won't block a lot of shots because he doesn't get very far off the ground. Holton is always running and lunging and leaping, which are ideal abilities for the full-court press the Mountaineers have used to contribute mightily toward 44 forced turnovers.

"Jonathan is a character," Williams said. "He doesn't stop. He's got a great motor."

Williams, on the other hand, is battling asthma that bothers him less now than it did last year. Huggins still said Williams was tired in the opener, which is something the Mountaineers will have to monitor with the pace they plan to keep throughout the season.

They're dissimilar on offense, too. WVU runs plays through and for Williams and he's taken 22 shots in two games without a lot of those coming on offensive rebounds. Holton made nine shots against Lafayette, but most were on offensive rebounds or breaks after turnovers. Hardly any plays are run through or for him.

"I can find ways to score," he said. "I feel like if the coach has to set something up for you, you're limited. I feel like I don't really need all that stuff."

There is potential for it to come together, and Huggins sought to spotlight that late against Lafayette. With the game in hand and time available to work on some plays and ploys, Huggins positioned Holton on the elbow on the right side with Williams working to get open in the post on the left.

Huggins believes Holton is a smart and sharp passer, someone tall and long enough to make the tricky pass into the post, but wise enough to look for someone else. It not, Holton is supposed to be one of WVU's best perimeter shooters, but on this play, he backed off and swung the ball to the left, where Jevon Carter missed a 3.

"I can honest to God shoot the ball," said Holton, who is 10 for 27 from the floor and 0-for-6 from 3-point range.

On the next possessions, Huggins flipped the script. Williams was up high on the left and Holton was down low on the right. No one stepped out to cover Williams and he made a jumper, which is certainly in his arsenal. He missed his first 11 shots of the season, but has made 7 of the past 11.

The high-low action with one or two shooters to the side and Juwan Staten darting around the floor is something to track because it adds to WVU's attack, provided Williams and Holton can trigger it properly.

"We've got to get some things fixed with their mechanics," Huggins said. "Both those guys are very capable of making foul-line jump shots. Jon's capable of making 3s. Jon, really on most days, is our best 3-point shooter out of all of our bigs. He just hasn't done it in a game yet.

"Devin started out last year miserably. He just got off to an awful shot, but he started shooting it pretty well toward the end. With Devin, it's a matter of doing it right all the time. You can't change your shot every three days. He got in a groove last year toward the end and we need him to concentrate on getting in a groove and staying there."

WVU FOOTBALL: Mountaineers' full 2015 schedule released http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141119/DM03/141119110 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141119/DM03/141119110 Wed, 19 Nov 2014 15:16:39 -0500


West Virginia University's 2015 football schedule was released Wednesday afternoon. The Mountaineers do not have to leave the state until October, but open Big 12 Conference play with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU.

"Seven home games return in 2015, and I think our fans and the Morgantown community will appreciate the extra game and another chance to see the team play at Milan Puskar Stadium," WVU athletic director Oliver Luck said. "The rivalry with Maryland returns at home for the first time since 2012, and the Big 12 schedule week-to-week will be a great test for our team."

WVU opens the season at home against Georgia Southern on Saturday, Sept. 5. The next week, Liberty visits Mountaineer Field. After an off week, the Mountaineers conclude the month by hosting Maryland on Saturday, Sept. 26.

West Virginia finally leaves the state in October, first with a road game against Oklahoma on Oct. 3. The Big 12 home opener is Oct. 10 vs. Oklahoma State, and then road games against Baylor (Oct. 17) and a Thursday night game at TCU (Oct. 29) loom.

The Mountaineers also host Texas Tech (Nov. 7), Texas (Nov. 14) and Iowa State (Nov. 28) in 2015.

The full schedule is below:

Saturday, Sept. 5 - Georgia Southern

Saturday, Sept. 12 - Liberty

Saturday, Sept. 26 - Maryland

Saturday, Oct. 3 - at Oklahoma

Saturday, Oct. 10 - Oklahoma State

Saturday, Oct. 17 - at Baylor

Thursday, Oct. 29 - at TCU

Saturday, Nov. 7 - Texas Tech

Saturday, Nov. 14 - Texas

Saturday, Nov. 21 - at Kansas

Saturday, Nov. 28 - Iowa State

Saturday, Dec. 5 - at Kansas State

WVU FOOTBALL: Wildcats don't commit many penalties http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141118/DM03/141119182 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141118/DM03/141119182 Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:50:44 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Adam Pankey, West Virginia's starting left tackle, was penalized three times in the team's loss to Texas, the sort of thing that can happen to an offensive lineman every now and them.

Just not at Kansas State. The Wildcats average 3.6 penalties per game and have played six games with three or fewer penalties, including zero against Auburn, when the teams combined for 146 offensive snaps and 22 special teams snaps.

Kansas State (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) leads the Big 12 and ranks No. 2 nationally in fewest penalties (32) and fewest penalty yards (209). The Wildcats visit Mountaineer Field for Thursday's 7 p.m. game against WVU (6-4, 4-3) on Fox Sports 1.

"Kansas State is a very, very solid team loaded with upperclassmen," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. "A lot of seniors, a lot of juniors, a lot of guys that have been in their program. ... They have guys that have been in the program four or five years now, and it really shows on film.

"These guys know what to do. They're sound. It means a lot to them. They play hard. They're mentally and physically tough. They're going to be physical and they're well-coached, they work hard, they're blue-collar guys that are extremely productive, extremely efficient and extremely sound with what they do."

* * *

Though this is the third time WVU and Kansas State have met since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 before the 2012 season, it's the first time the Mountaineers have been bowl eligible for the game.

They started the season 5-0 in 2012, but lost at home to Kansas State, 55-14, as part of a five-game losing streak. WVU wasn't bowl eligible last season, the first time that had happened since 2001.

This team has lost two in a row for the first time this season to fall out of contention for the conference championship, including a loss to Texas, which is now bowl eligible and could possibly leap WVU in the Big 12's bowl order.

The Mountaineers, who are in sixth place in the standings with a 1-3 record against teams ahead of them and just the Kansas State game left against teams they trail, are likely to play in a bowl on Dec. 29 or Jan. 2.

The Texas and the Liberty bowls are Dec. 29 and the Cactus Bowl is Jan. 2. The Texas Bowl picks first among those three and has the third pick after the College Football Playoff. That game, against the SEC, could arrange a Texas-Texas A&M game in Houston.

The Liberty Bowl picks next and is also against an SEC team, but it's in Memphis, where the Longhorns and Aggies wouldn't be as interesting. WVU played in the Liberty Bowl 50 years ago and lost to Utah in Atlantic City, N.J. It was the first major bowl played indoors and the first broadcast nationwide, distinctions representatives have talked up on their visits to WVU home and road games.

The Cactus Bowl, in Phoenix, picks next and is partnered with the sixth pick from the Pac-12.

"We haven't even brought it up with the team, but I think our team understands it's got a lot to play for," Holgorsen said. "The thing about bowl games is the more you win, the pecking order changes a little bit. What's different about the Big 12 as opposed to the conference we were in prior to the Big 12 is they're all good bowl games.

"Whatever the pecking order is, whether it's the first spot or the sixth or seventh spot, they're all going to be good, quality games."

* * *

Thursday's game is the final home game for what Holgorsen calls an "odd" senior class that was born out of necessity the past few years. Holgorsen is in his fourth year as the team's coach and none of the seniors are players who were in his first recruiting class in 2011.

Quarterback Clint Trickett, running back Dreamius Smith, receivers Mario Alford and Kevin White, right guard Mark Glowinski, defensive ends Shaq Riddick and Dontrill Hyman, linebacker Brandon Golson and safety Cullen Christian start or play roles and either joined the team last year or this year. Offensive tackle Mike Callichio started off at WVU in 2010, transferred out a year later and returned in 2012.

"We've got 19 guys that go through senior night and of the 19, only five of them, if I'm not mistaken, are fifth year seniors," Holgorsen said, correctly. "Thirteen of the 19 are transfer guys so there's just not very many guys that have been in the program for four and five years. We had to get some four-year transfers and we had to get some junior college transfers to come in and increase the talent, which I think we've accomplished, and to get the numbers to where they're healthy as well. I think we've accomplished that."

* * *

The Wildcats have won 49 straight games that they lead at halftime. It's the second-longest streak in the nation, trailing only Oklahoma's 49-game streak. WVU led last season's game 9-7 at halftime, but were outscored 28-3 in the second half.

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.

WVU FOOTBALL: Kansas State QB finds mentor in Collin Klein http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141118/DM03/141119188 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141118/DM03/141119188 Tue, 18 Nov 2014 17:13:46 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN - Jake Waters was hanging out in the football facility at Kansas State one day over the summer when the current Kansas State quarterback bumped into a former Kansas State quarterback.

"Well," Collin Klein said, "I'm a coach now."

The 2012 Heisman Trophy finalist who was 21-5 as a starter and led the Wildcats to a No. 1 ranking, a Big 12 championship and a Fiesta Bowl his final season, would become a defensive quality control assistant and the assistant director of recruiting.

Waters was thrilled. Replacing Klein was one of the main reasons he picked Kansas State over Penn State. He suddenly had a chance to replicate Klein.

"It's incredible," Waters said. "I was probably the happiest person when they hired him. He was in the offense for four or five years and he knows it like the back of his hand. For me to be able to pick his brain, I'm probably annoying to him just because I'm trying to get so much out of him knowing what he did for Kansas State and how he played and how much he knew."

Klein's fame was largely the result of his running. He finished with more than 2,400 yards on the ground in his career, almost all of it coming in his final two seasons, and was the first quarterback from a major conference to run for 20 touchdowns and pass for 10 touchdowns in consecutive seasons.

Waters' reputation was much different. He spent his first two college seasons at Iowa Western College and spun together one of the finest junior college seasons ever in 2012. Waters was the national player of the year and set a record by completing 73.3 percent of his passes while throwing for 3,501 yards, 39 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

The Waters who leads No. 12 Kansas State (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) into Mountaineer Field for Thursday's 7 p.m. game at on Fox Sports 1 against West Virginia (6-4, 4-3) is equal parts of his former self and the player who has learned so much from Klein.

"It is a little different body type," WVU coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They are both athletic. Collin Klein is just a smart player that was big. People say that he couldn't throw the ball well, but he came out here and completed 95 percent of his passes two years ago. They both can run the ball. Waters just keeps getting better and better. He is a tremendous competitor. He has developed with guys and you can tell by how the team is playing overall."

Waters, who at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds is 4 inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than Klein, has passed for 200 yards in 10 straight games, but he has two games with 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing this season. His 286.1 yards of total offense per game is the second-best average in school history, trailing only Klein.

"As far as having the total package, he's as good as anybody we've faced over the year because all he can do throwing the ball really well and running the ball really well," WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson said. "He's patient. He understands the scheme and what they want to do. He takes care of the ball. Some of the quarterbacks we've played have been reckless. Some have been better throwers and were not threat to run. He brings all of that."

Waters is 166 for 261 passing this season for 2,169 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions. Tyler Lockett is a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist with 60 receptions for 878 yards and six scores. Curry Sexton has 53 catches for 723 yards and four touchdowns. The offense is a little more spread out now than it was under Klein, and coach Bill Snyder has evolved to accommodate his offensive talent, including a Wildcat package with running back Charles Jones playing quarterback.

Yet Waters has a team-high 101 carries for 406 yards and seven touchdowns, and his 53-yard run against Oklahoma is the team's longest of the season, a little better than his 50-yard jaunt against Texas Tech.

"He is mobile," Holgorsen said. "They do a lot of quarterback run game. They will do some things where he is doing the option. They are just going to flat out snap it to him, and he's going to run the ball. They do some different things. They do some unique things in the run game with the quarterback that poses problems. You have to account for him, but then he can still throw the ball and he has some pretty quality receivers."

The Wildcats will spread out their offensive lineman to create creases in the middle, and Waters waits for blockers to block, but they'll tighten up the offensive line to give running plays a chance to get outside. They line up in power sets and spread sets, but they can run or pass out of both without giving away any clues. Even when the defense is onto something, the play can change. Waters is skilled and selling a run to pull defenders toward him and then throwing a pass to a receiver in open space.

"It's built into the play where he makes the decision," Gibson said. "A lot of people do it off the zone read scheme where the tailback's involved and the quarterback pulls it out and throws a quick bubble (screen). But this is all him.

"They run the quarterback power, the quarterback zone, the quarterback iso and they all have pass options off it, which means we have to get another guy in the box to stop the quarterback run. But then he can catch you in what you're doing coverage-wise and you've got to cover that up. He does it as well as anybody I've ever seen do it."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.

WVU BASKETBALL: No. 17 Mountaineer women hold off Seton Hall http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141117/ARTICLE/141119247 ARTICLE http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141117/ARTICLE/141119247 Mon, 17 Nov 2014 22:26:33 -0500


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - No. 17 West Virginia went 9 of 12 from the line in the final five minutes to hold off Seton Hall, holding on for an 89-87 win Monday night.

Daisha Simmons and Tabatha Richardson-Smith both drilled 3-pointers in the final minute and Ka-Deidre Simmons added two free throws with :13 left to keep the Pirates within a point, 88-87, but West Virginia's Teana Muldrow hit the first of two free throws to make it 89-87 and Ka-Deidre Simmons missed a layup to tie at the buzzer.

Averee Fields tied the game for West Virginia with a free throw with 7:28 left, and sparked an 11-2 run to give the Mountaineers the lead, but Seton Hall battled back. Richardson-Smith drilled a 3 to make it 82-79 with under 2:00 left.

Bria Holmes led all scorers with 36 points to lead West Virginia (2-0).

Richardson-Smith scored 32 to lead Seton Hall (1-1).

WVU FOOTBALL: Holgorsen trying to protect Trickett http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141117/DM03/141119293 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141117/DM03/141119293 Mon, 17 Nov 2014 17:46:46 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Lost beneath the many words heaped upon the loss to Texas and the time that's passed since was West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen saying he's had to call plays recently that protect his quarterback.

At his weekly press conference Tuesday, Holgorsen said he's doing it - more runs and quicker passes to keep defenders away from Clint Trickett - because of the opposition and because of the situation behind his starter.

"When you have a defensive front that gets after it like those two teams (TCU and Texas) did, we have to be careful with how we call plays to protect him," Holgorsen said. "That's not different than any other team I have been on with a quarterback that we have to protect. He is our starting quarterback, and we don't have a very experienced backup, so we have to be careful in protecting him.

"I think everybody tries to protect their guys, so we try to figure out what Clint can do right, and I think his best attribute as far as being a quarterback is understanding what we are trying to do with the ball and make it happen."

Trickett's done his part as well, and Holgorsen was persistent early on that Trickett needed to be judicious with when he runs and slides and when he gets rid of the ball so he doesn't take hits. The quarterback understands why the coach is protective late in the season.

"That's up to him. That's a coach's decision. But there's a fine line when I'm out there," Trickett said. "Stuff's going to happen and plays are going to happen and sometimes I'm going to have to make a play and sometimes I've got to be smart.

"We're at the last part of the season. We're guaranteed a bowl game. We know that we still have three games left, and I'd like to be healthy for all of those, so we'll keep doing what we've been doing this year and hopefully we get three more wins."

Last season, Trickett suffered a concussion in the loss to Kansas State and didn't tell his coaches. He's mostly stayed out of trouble this season and his body benefited from the open week before Thursday's 7 p.m. game against the 12th-ranked Wildcats (7-2, 5-1 Big 12) at Mountaineer Field.

There have been exceptions, though. He's tried to run 10 times this season to escape pressure and gained 61 yards, and Trickett typically slides or gets out of bounds. Late in the Texas loss, Trickett was scrambling on third-and-7 but only gained 3 yards before he was folded in half by a hit from safety Mykkele Thompson.

"I tried to make him miss and obviously I didn't," Trickett said. "He was a lot faster than me. Good hit on his part. There was so much open field that I was like, 'I've definitely got to make him miss,' but I underestimated him.

"I usually get down, but on that one I was trying to get a first down and I didn't make it. For the most part, once I get yardage, I get down."

* * *

WVU's regular-season finale against Iowa State will kick off at noon and be televised by Fox Sports 1.

* * *

MOUNTAINEER receiver Kevin White, who is No. 2 nationally in receptions per game and No. 3 in receiving yards per game and has a NCAA-best eight 100-yard games, was named a semifinalist Monday for the Biletnikoff Award.

"I believe he had seven 100-yard games or so in a row," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "That is quite a bit of a day's work over a consistent period of time. If you watch him on tape, you realize that he is a gifted young guy. He can run, catch and make you miss after he catches the ball. He has all of it. He is getting at least eight or nine catches a ballgame, so that is a substantial number."

Kansas State's Miguel Lockett was one of the 10 semifinalists, as well, and Holgorsen said Lockett is "one of the best players in the country. He hurt us last year and he's hurt a lot of people over the last couple years."

White has 98 caches for 1,207 yards and eight touchdowns and set a school record with 16 receptions against Texas. Lockett has 60 catches for 878 yards and six scores. In two games against the Mountaineers, the senior has 17 receptions for 305 yards and five touchdowns.

* * *

The WIldcats rank No. 3 in the Big 12 in total defense and scoring defense, but No. 9 with 14 sacks, which is half as many as they had last season, and No. 8 with 52 tackles for a loss. This is good news for the Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3), who are ninth in the Big 12 in sacks allowed (24) and tackles for a loss allowed (70). Those totals rank No. 86 and 102 nationally.

The offensive line recuperated during the open weekend and line coach Ron Crook said his players needed to address "muscle fatigue" after six straight games with almost no relief from backups. They also had to get over their lowest-graded performance of the season by revisiting fundamentals and staying away from much physical contact.

"They all set a high standard for themselves and they know when they play well and when they don't," Crook said. "They take it a lot more personal than me saying anything to them. We talked a lot more about technique and improving in practice and things like that more than we talked about, 'Wow, we're not grading out well enough.' "

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu.

WVU FOOTBALL: Kansas State walk-ons make an impression http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141117/DM03/141119316 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141117/DM03/141119316 Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:30:08 -0500 By Mike Casazza MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The topic is irresistible as it relates to Kansas State football because it personifies everything the program has come to represent under its iconic head coach.

In his 23 seasons in charge of the Wildcats, Bill Snyder has turned about 200 walk-ons into scholarship players. Fifty-eight players on the current roster were or are walk-ons, including sixteen players on the 50-player two deep.

"It's about technique and being tough and playing hard and they do an unbelievably great job of that. They teach great technique and play disciplined," West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. "The thing that makes him so special is just the discipline his entire team plays with. They're program guys. They've got a lot of walk-ons who just do the right thing each and every day. It's pretty neat."

The 12th-ranked Wildcats, who visit Mountaineer Field for Thursday's 7 p.m. game on Fox Sports 1, have covered the landscape through the years.

Freshman all-America and consensus all-America. NFL fullback. NFL safety. Jordy Nelson is a star wideout for the Green Bay Packers who started off as a defensive back for the Wildcats. Ryan Mueller was a seldom-used defensive lineman who had 17 tackles and 2 1/2 sacks his first two seasons. He was the Big 12 defensive lineman of the year last season with 62 tackles and 11 1/2 sacks.

It's impossible to ignore and almost as hard to comprehend.

"We walk through the door and coach Snyder sprinkles walk-on dust on you," Mueller said. "He's a wizard."

He is not, though Snyder is seemingly ageless and has cast a spell over his players through the years with his famed 16 Goals for Success that give the Wildcats a blueprint for their lives. The secret, though, is far less exotic.

It begins with simply targeting the right kids. Many of the walk-ons come from Kansas. Some are from remote areas where college coaches don't visit very often, like center B.J. Finney, who's from a small farming community called Andale with a population around 1,500. Finney was a freshman all-American and first-team all-Big 12 the past two years.

Linebacker Jonathan Truman is from a town called Kechi, which is slightly bigger than Andale. Mueller is from Leawood, which is enormous, by comparison, with about 31,000 people. Players from larger cities like Wichita, Overland Park or Topeka sign, too.

"Those small-town kids, they want to work," Finney said. "They're disciplined and they're relentless with their work ethic. They're going to make sure they get their opportunity to play. The in-state pride we all have in the K-State football program and the fact we all want to play for coach Snyder, when we get the opportunity, we want to make the most of it."

But there are outliers and players from out of state and far away. Senior Randall Evans is a two-year starter at cornerback who grew up in Miami.

"A lot of guys like myself didn't have any Division I offers out of high school, but I believed I should be playing Division I football," Truman said. "I had a chip on my shoulder about the whole thing and nobody offering me, so I thought I might as well prove them all wrong. Kansas State was the best place for me to get that opportunity to play football."

Once on campus, it's up to the players to invest in Snyder's philosophy and commit themselves to what it takes to earn an opportunity that's going to be available. It's not easy, it's frequently not fast, but it's there if the players stay in line.

It's not merely about following directions. It's about doing everything everyone else has to do and doing it right, but without the same rewards. Scholarship players can make mistakes and they don't lose their scholarship. Walk-ons can't make too many mistakes and hope to earn a scholarship.

"It's a struggle thinking, 'Man, am I good enough?'" Truman said. "I always asked myself that. But I always answered with, 'Absolutely. There's no reason I can't play here, and if it's not right now, I will be good enough later down the road and I'll get better every single day.' You have to work at it so you will get that scholarship because you really don't have any other choice."

Up until this year, walk-ons didn't get the free team meals. They still don't have their tuition, books and board paid for. Over time, it's natural to wonder why the difference exists and if it's all worth it.

"I wanted it to happen," Finney said. "I could easily see why it wouldn't happen for everyone."

Mueller, Finney and Truman and three or four others are all that's left from the three dozen or so walk-ons who joined the team in 2010. Mueller tied the school record for sacks last season. Finney is a three-time team captain. Truman leads the team with 85 tackles this season.

Those are not coincidences.

"We took it up in ourselves to make the difference and represent not only the school but where we're from," Mueller said. "We made it important to us, and it all comes back to buying into the program. Even though coach Snyder is 100 years old, his philosophy still works. No matter how old or how young you are, if you buy into the process and you buy into the program and what we're trying to do here, I promise you'll be happy with the results."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymailwv.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.charlestondailymail.com/wvu. Follow him on Twitter at @mikecasazza.