MORGANTOWN - After giving up 45 or more points in each of the first three Big 12 Conference games, the West Virginia defensive unit knows the time of making excuses is over.
"You can't make excuses just because of a new scheme and new coaches," defensive back Darwin Cook said. "We still have to go out there as players and make plays. You can't just blame it on new coaches and new schemes. You just have to make plays."
That much-maligned unit will again be tested as No. 4 Kansas State, 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Big 12, comes to Morgantown for a 7 p.m. contest which will be televised across the nation on Fox. WVU comes into the game ranked 17th with a 5-1 overall record and 2-1 in the conference.
WVU coach Dana Holgorsen has said the front seven of his defense have played well, particularly in shutting down opposing running games. That ability should help against the Wildcats' power game.
"They are only snapping the ball 63 times a game, but they are scoring 40 points a game," Holgorsen said. "They have big-play potential. They do it in a different way."
Holgorsen said the biggest challenge for the Mountaineers will be stopping K-State's vaunted running attack.
"That's what I'm built for," linebacker Doug Riggs said. "That's what I love to see. I'm excited for this game. I'll be ready to play this weekend."
The Wildcats are led by quarterback Collin Klein, a dual-threat signal-caller. He averages about 100 yards a game running, but has talented speedsters on the wings waiting for the pass play to be called.
"Then when they throw the ball, we need to be making plays down field," he said.
"We haven't done a very good job of making plays down field, and that is a little bit of an understatement."
"A lot of times, (Klein) will look like he's running the ball, then he'll pretend to run the ball but throw it deep," Rigg said.
"He has the arm to complete it. We can't just assume it's going to be a run and give up the receivers deep."
Cook said many of the deep plays surrendered by the secondary this season have not been because of confusion, but a lack of mental effort.
"We have to get our calls known around us," he said. "You have to communicate that to everybody. We just have to get better on that part - communication."