With K-State moving the ball adequately on the ground, WVU defensive coordinator Tony Gibson tried to get more numbers in the box, and take away initial gaps by moving to a bear front. The set-up, named for the 46 defense used by Chicago's 1985 team, is based upon a 5-2 set-up in which, in WVU's case, its three down linemen are flanked by a pair of typically stand up ends.
The Mountaineers usually used weakside linebacker David Long and spur safety Kyzir White on the edges, and positioned linebackers Justin Arndt and Al Benton four to five yards off the ball in the gaps between the nose and end. West Virginia actually began the game in that look, showing it on the first Kansas State offensive snap before quarterback Jesse Ertz audibled and the Mountaineers backed out into their normal three-down, three-linebacker look.
"We did it two years ago and held them to one yard rushing," Gibson said. "They were running the ball a little bit and we just wanted to slow it down some. We knew they were going to check. That quarterback, he was trying to check to the perfect play and we would mayday out of our blitz and check to our base package and and he wasn't sure how to go with that. There was some miscommunication on their part I think. They burned (timeouts) quick, then burned them quick in the second half, too, right out of the gate. That was good. We wanted to do that, wanted to disguise what we were doing and how we were doing it."
WVU held K-State to just 120 yards rushing on 42 carries, with no player netting more than 53 yards. The Wildcats were able to manufacture a handful of longer runs than they had in past games, hitting for 20, 18 and 15 yards - KSU's longest rush over the previous two series games was nine yards. But two of those came in the first half, and only Ertz had a longer run than six yards in the latter half as the Mountaineers limited Kansas State to three points.
"We knew they were going to make plays, we just had to play hard and we had to do what we do," nose guard Darrien Howard said. "That (five-man front) was just pat of it. We wanted to make them keep playing and make mistakes. We played our technique, our game. We try not to get frustrated or dismayed. Keep playing hard and something good will happen for us. We want to keep playing and get the offense the ball so they can do something and score."
That they did late, holding Kansas State to 43 yards on 20 plays in the fourth quarter. West Virginia's offense, meanwhile, hit for 185 yards on 26 plays in its three scoring drives. The Mountaineers also had a 10-play, 63-yard drive that resulted in Rushel Shell's fumble, which was recovered at the two-yard line. The four drives combined for an average of almost four yards per play.
"As a defensive player we live for situations," said Howard, who finished with four tackles, one for loss. "We want it to be on us. We don't like to turn it in when things go south. We like to keep pushing it and pushing it."