MANHATTAN (TNS) — K-State player of the game: D.J. Reed. The junior defensive back created turnovers via fumble and interception, while providing strong coverage throughout the game. He also had 136 return yards. He helped the Wildcats in multiple phases and gave the offense excellent field position.
West Virginia player of the game: Will Grier. The West Virginia quarterback escaped K-State's pass rush like he was covered in grease. Time after time, it seemed like the Wildcats had him wrapped up for a sack. Time after time, he spun free and made things happen down field, including a 30-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the second quarter. He made up for two interceptions by throwing for 372 yards and four touchdowns.
Key moment of the game: West Virginia lost a fumble with 48 seconds remaining in the second quarter and still scored a touchdown before the half ended. K-State attempted two ill-advised plays (a negative run from Dalvin Warmack and a screen pass to fullback Winston Dimel) and the second one resulted in a turnover. That gave Grier 10 seconds to throw for the end zone and put West Virginia ahead 28-20. If the Wildcats had simply let the clock expire, the score would have been 21-20. Instead, the Mountaineers were in control.
Offense: F. K-State managed 332 yards against a West Virginia defense that had been allowing 448. Yes, the Wildcats missed Jesse Ertz and Alex Delton, their top two quarterbacks, and Skylar Thompson was making his first start, but more was expected. With a redshirt freshman leading the huddle, the rest of the offense needed to step up. It didn't happen.
Defense: B+. Four turnovers in the first half. No points allowed in the second half. K-State's defense did more than enough to win this game. Grier and West Virginia's receivers made them look silly at times, but the Wildcats toughened up as the game went along and delivered one of the best efforts of the Big 12 season.
Special Teams: A. Matthew McCrane made three of four field goals and the Wildcats regularly benefited from excellent field position.
Coaching: F. It would be interesting to know how this game would have turned out without the meltdown at the end of the first half. But K-State handled it poorly in every way, allowing West Virginia to score a cheap touchdown when the Wildcats were in position to score themselves. That's on the coaches, plain and simple.