How do you prepare a team to play in an environment it has never faced?
That is the task that lies ahead for veteran Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder as he prepares to bring his No. 4 Wildcats east of the Mississippi River for the first time this season to take on No. 17 West Virginia.
"We (the coaching staff) have just got to do a good job of explaining it (the atmosphere in Morgantown)," Snyder said during Monday's Big 12 teleconference. "What the environment will be like. What the travel will be like. What they, as players, can expect."
The things every coach does when they are playing on the road in a hostile environment.
But, if you have never been in Morgantown, the environment the night prior to and the day of the game can be a distraction for any first-time visitor. Adding to that the atmosphere at the 7 p.m. kickoff time.
One only has to go back to last year's meeting between the Mountaineers' and the then-No. 2 ranked Tigers from LSU. A packed stadium, dressed primarily in gold, made for a scene as picturesque as the mountains for which our state is so known.
The atmosphere was electrifying, loud and intimidating.
Fans attending Saturday night's game against KSU will have to duplicate that effort and hope it will be enough to help the Mountaineers overcome what will be their biggest opponent of the season so far.
"They (KSU) are very, very tough," WVU head coach Dana Holgorsen said. "This will be our biggest challenge of the year, no question. They are extremely disciplined, and it doesn't matter if its offense or defense or special teams.
"Their whole program is built around being mentally tough, physically tough, disciplined and with a tremendous amount of effort. Any coach at any level could turn on their tape and be appreciative of how they coach their kids."
* When asked about the contrast between the Wildcats' run-oriented attack and the Air Raid utilized by WVU, Snyder took a very politically correct approach.
"Both teams play within their capabilities. You do what you do. It is what it is. You don't change all of what you do. You go and play your game."
That game for KSU revolves around a rushing attack that has posted nearly 1,500 yards this season and 22 total touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Collin Klein has accounted for 510 of those yards-six more than WVU rushing leader Andrew Buie-and 10 scores, while John Hubert leads the way with 606 yards and eight touchdowns on 98 carries.
* A year ago, Snyder and his Wildcats were riding high with a 7-0 mark and the inside track to capturing the Big 12 championship. That was before KSU played host to Oklahoma.
A 58-17 setback not only ended the Wildcats' perfect season, but left some lasting memories for the 2011 National Coach of the Year.
"If you go back to that ballgame, we were unable to start and finish," said Snyder. "When you do that, then you are in trouble."
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