MANHATTAN, Kansas-For perhaps the only time this season, questions surrounding the quarterback position will not involve WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen and his Mountaineers (3-4, 1-3 Big 12).
Saturday's 3:45 p.m. showdown with defending league champion Kansas State University (2-4, 0-3) will pit the old gold and blue's prevent unit against either junior Jake Waters or sophomore Daniel Sams.
"I think the result is practice time-focusing on what is significant and improve in areas that certainly need improvement," veteran head coach Bill Snyder said. "I thought Jake (Waters) ran the ball well in the ballgame-and we are trying to bring along his ability to do that-but I thought he had some difficulty throwing the ball.
"We had less turnovers, but the one at the end was a critical turnover in the ballgame. So we still haven't mastered everything, but we are knocking on the door."
And, the Wildcats have had an extra week to prepare for a WVU coming off of a heart-breaking, 37-27, loss to No. 10 Texas Tech last weekend in Morgantown.
"They (WVU) seemingly have settled on their quarterback," Snyder explained. "They also were more vested in the running game last week and it showed against Texas Tech."
West Virginia finished with 183 yards on 39 carries against the Red Raiders' defense - its most yards on the ground since a 245-yard performance in a 41-7 win over Georgia State.
"We are trying to get ourselves better, and in some cases we have," the coach continued. "In terms of our last ballgame, we have improved play with our offensive line. I think that was evident to most people. I thought our quarterback play-even though we had some problems, as did our offensive line-was improved collectively.
"I thought the play of our front seven with the exception of the last drive was improved greatly. I think our effort collectively has improved. Although it wasn't 100 percent, it was better. I think that we are beginning to practice better, which is most significant with me, and I think the result of the areas that I talked about where there was improvement was a result of their practice effort during the course of the week."
Sams leads the team in rushing with 522 yards and seven touchdowns on 86 attempts while Waters tops the stat sheet in passing, having completed 76-of-122 attempts for 1,036 yards and four scores with five interceptions. Sams has completed 22-of-32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns with four passes ending up in the hands of the opposition.
They will face a Mountaineer secondary that was torched for 462 yards and two touchdowns by TTU freshman Davis Webb, who completed 36-of-50 attempts with no picks. West Virginia's defense ranks No. 96 in the country in passing defense and No. 9 in the Big 12, allowing 257.1 yards per game.
WVU is fifth in the conference, however, in interceptions with eight which has caught the eye of Snyder and his staff.
"They have some talented young men," Snyder said. "And, they are searching for the same thing we are searching for-confidence. They do a great job of stopping the run, but we have seen some holes in their secondary that we think we can attack."
That means getting the ball to a talented corps of receivers including Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson-who are both expected to play after missing most of the past two ballgames.
Lockett leads the unit with 31 catches for 475 yards (15.3 ypc) and one touchdown while Thompson has 13 catches for 185 yards and one score. Also look for Curry Sexton to add to his total of 21 passes caught for 189 yards and for senior running back John Hubert (10-111, 1 TD) to see passes thrown his direction.
Hubert, who rushed for a team-leading 52 yards on 16 carries in last year's 55-14 victory in Morgantown, has carried the football 80 times for 358 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.
"Being 2-4 is never easy and neither is the response to it," Snyder said. "How you respond to it and how you feel about it is difficult for the players, coaches, and the people that are invested in this program.
"The important thing for us is not what could have been, but what are we going to do. That is the way we have to approach it with the determination that says-what I say every week-we have to eliminate the costly mistakes. We have to practice with the focus of doing exactly that, improve our practice time and therefore our performance level on game day will improve."