MORGANTOWN - Everyone knows the basic bad news regarding West Virginia's defense: The Mountaineers can't defend against the pass.
Here's the good news about the next opponent the Mountaineers face: They don't generally rely on the pass.
So, does that mean that No. 4 Kansas State (6-0, 3-0 Big 12), which comes to Morgantown for a prime-time game with No. 17 West Virginia (5-1, 2-1) Saturday night, is a better matchup than has been generally faced for that woeful defense?
"I hope so,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said. "They could be.''
It's not that the Wildcats don't present offensive problems. Far from it, in fact. K-State averages nearly 41 points per game and 427.5 yards. That's not good for a defense that has allowed an average of 52 points and 593 yards in three Big 12 games.
But where West Virginia has had the most trouble - by far - is defending the pass. In the first six games of the season, the Mountaineers have faced three of the top four passing offenses in the country (Baylor, Marshall and Texas Tech; the only top-four passing offense it hasn't faced is its own) and the results have been pitiful. Out of 120 FBS programs, WVU is in the bottom three in both passing yards allowed and pass efficiency defense.
But Kansas State has thrown the football only 118 times in six games, or roughly the same as West Virginia's last three opponents in half that number of games (119). Only 12 schools in the country average fewer yards passing than K-State.
But that doesn't mean that facing the Wildcats necessarily will be a break for West Virginia's defense.
"With any team there are challenges and this one just happens to be stopping the run,'' Holgorsen said. "Then when they're going to throw the ball, [we need to be] making plays downfield. We haven't done a very good job of making plays downfield. That's a little bit of an understatement.''