MORGANTOWN-Junior linebacker Doug Rigg understands that Mountaineer fans are discouraged with the defense's apparent inability to stop the opposition from scoring. But, they may be surprised with his explanation.
"It's a matter of playing physical," said Rigg. "We've got to get multiple hats on the ball and play physical."
A feeling echoed by his head coach.
"Our job as coaches is to get back to what made us win all of those games," head coach Dana Holgorsen said during his weekly press conference. "That is working hard, playing with a tremendous amount of effort and being disciplined, being smart, playing fast and playing physical."
There is that word (physical) again.
"We understand that there are people out there doubting us," said Rigg. "Some want to blame the coaches and others want to blame the new scheme. But, it really comes down to us (the defense) playing more physical."
Something the defense will have to do if it is going to slow down a Kansas State offense that is averaging 427.5 yards per game-248.5 on the ground-and 40.8 points.
"They (the Wildcats) are a real physical team," continued the player. "We are going to have to play harder than them to stop their running game."
A running game fueled by Heisman Trophy candidate Collin Klein at quarterback and John Hubert at running back.
Hubert, a junior, leads the team with 606 yards and eight touchdowns on 98 carries while Klein, who has completed 79-of-118 passes for 1,074 yards and seven scores, has as many carries (98) for 510 yards and 10 six-pointers.
"We've got some keys right now," said Rigg, who has 36 tackles (19 solo) in WVU's first six games. "Obviously, it starts with their quarterback (Klein), but if you spend too much energy going after him, then their running back (Hubert) will burn you."
West Virginia has had some successes stopping the run this season as the unit is allowing 131.3 yards on the ground per game and is No. 2 in the Big 12 Conference in sacks with 15.
"The urgency is there. It really comes down to every player on the defense doing his job. One little mistake, against any of the offenses in the Big 12, and its a touchdown, said Riggs."
Making the task easier for the defense would be an offensive output more like the 70 points WVU scored in its win over Baylor rather than the 14 it was held to in the loss at Texas Tech last Saturday.
"This is a team sport and we are a team so we have to get better on all three sides of the ball if we want to win Saturday against Kansas State. The defense has to do a better job of getting off of the field. That is the part of the game that we can take care of.
"The offense can, and will, score points and the kicking game will do its job. We (the defense) can only take care of the things that we can take care of, said Riggs."
Part of the problem, however, is a defense that is playing as many as five freshmen at a time and have had as many as eight play significant minutes in 2012.
"You try to give them (the freshmen) advice," said Rigg. "Teams will scout you and find your weaknesses. They will see that you are making mistakes and go after you. What we have to do is correct our mistakes so that teams can not used them against us."