West Virginia Hopes to Have Several Players Back, Top K-State's Bill Snyder in Finale'

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bill Snyder has done more with less than any other coach in Big 12 history. And, at least for now, he plans to be back next season.

The rumors were flying that Snyder would retire at the end of this year, but the 76-year old has reiterated that he doesn’t consider the possibility until the end of the season, when he can properly reflect and review. When West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, who reviews the recent win over Iowa State in the above video, was asked his thoughts on the career and coaching abilities of Snyder, the accolades and adulations were obvious during the coach's teleconference call on Monday.

“He’s as good as he gets in this profession,” said Holgorsen, whose WVU team faces Snyder’s Kansas State program to end the regular season. “I’ve been watching him an respected what he has done in this profession not just in my five years as head coach but long before that. He looks like he is going as strong as he ever was.”

When Snyder took the coaching position at Kansas State, he started 0-3 before winning 20-17 over North Texas State. That snapped a 29-game losing streak for KSU, and started a run that would see Snyder become the 14th-fastest coach to ever reach 100 wins. The Wildcats have remained a solid presence since, going to bowl games in 16 of Snyder’s last 19 seasons, including three Cotton and three Fiesta bowl appearances.

Snyder, now 192-100-1 and a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, will try to extend that mark when Kansas State (5-6, 2-6) plays host to West Virginia in the regular season finale. Both teams have had similar seasons, starting the nonconference portion well, then hitting the gantlet of the Big 12 before rebounding to finish well.

“Two similar teams,” Holgorsen said. “The biggest difference is the scheme we play with defensively. Both teams play with great effort. Two of the best special teams in the league. The way we run the quarterback, it’s something I’ve watched from Kansas State this year. Both were 3-0, then having to play some of those Big 12 teams hung some losses on there. But then kept playing and finished strong.”

West Virginia (7-4, 4-4) is looking to win its fifth straight and end a four-game losing streak to Kansas State, along with Oklahoma the only two teams to have swept WVU in every Big 12 meeting. Holgorsen is 0-3 against Snyder, though the margin has decreased every season, with the Mountaineers rallying behind back-up-turned-starter Skyler Howard last year before losing 26-20.

It was Howard’s first major action, and the quarterback would finish the season against Iowa State and Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl before winning the starting job for 2015. Thus far, Howard has ben solid, completing 174 of 310 passes for 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Howard has been the antithesis of former quarterback Clint Trickett in leading the running game and remaining uninjured despite the pounding.

Howard is just eight yards shy of 500 rushing this season, and has scored six times in a newly-styled West Virginia attack. Holgorsen noted that he took some of his quarterback rushing ideas from Snyder, who has always used that as a key component to his tough-nosed, physical style.

“Back when I was at Texas Tech and Houston, and even Oklahoma State, we weren’t running,” Holgorsen said. “We didn’t have any designed run plays in for the quarterback. Now every Big 12 play is having designed runs the quarterback, running draws with the quarterback. That’s not going to change. It’s very difficult (to avoid injuries) with the way offenses are running the quarterbacks more, the way defenses are playing spread offenses.

“If you get paranoid about it you won’t ever run those quarterbacks. I don’t think we are going to do that. We will all keep running the quarterback. But I feel fortunate. You gotta either protect them with play calls, or recruit more people for the position. You have to get that number two and three guy ready to go. That’s just the reality of where we are at. We made the decision to go this direction a few years ago, and started recruiting certain quarterbacks because of it. Skyler has been fortunate to be out there every week, but he is banged up. He hasn’t had a lot of practice. It has allowed us to rep William Crest and Chris Chugunov. I’ve never been somewhere where we have repped the third team quarterback as much as we have here.”

Holgorsen also updated various other injuries, including receiver Ka’Raun White, who hasn’t played since the fourth quarter of the Texas game. White has an ongoing shoulder injury, but did practice Sunday. The team also hopes to have Adam Pankey back against Kansas State, and Holgorsen said the running game was affected by his absence versus Iowa State. Yodny Cajuste also remains out with turf toe, and it is unknown if he will play in the last regular season game, or if he could break back into the starting line-up now after all the shuffling.


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