in Football

Huddle Up: Kansas State

October 20 2012 Morgantown WV USA Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein 7 waits for the snap from center against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the first quarter at Milan Puskar Stadium. The Kansas State Wildcats won 55 14. Mandatory Credit Charles LeClaire US PRESSWIRE

Photo Attribution: US Presswire

The folks from Bring on the Cats joined me to talk about what to expect from Kansas State and OSU tomorrow night.

1. Be honest, how scared are you right now (in general, not about OSU)?

Every single game terrifies me right now. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. We could have Colorado on the schedule, and I’d invent crazy scenarios in which the Buffaloes could win.

2. What does Kansas State do better this year than it did last year?

There are two things K-State has improved upon. First is its defensive play. Tom Hayes’ defense is in the top 15 in scoring defense and rushing defense, and is 31st in total defense. We’re still playing somewhat of a bend-but-don’t-break scheme, but this year the Wildcats are much more likely to make stops before their opponent reaches the red zone. They’re still forcing a lot of turnovers, too.

Second is the passing game. During the offseason at BOTC, we talked a lot about what this team needed to do to improve. One thing that was mentioned again and again was Collin Klein’s passing numbers. He averaged right around 150 yards passing per game last year. We thought that if he could add 25-50 yards to that average, K-State would be a very strong offense.

After facing Texas Tech, Klein is up to 204 passing yards per game this season. By showing a passing ability that opposing defenses have to respect this season, K-State has been able to keep its opponents off balance, and the results speak for themselves.

3. Finish this sentence: if OSU ____________ they will upset K-State on Saturday.

To start with, Oklahoma State needs to win the turnover battle on Saturday. K-State is +16 this season in turnover margin, which is good for fourth in the country. Given that they’ve played eight games, K-State has been, on average, +2 in turnover margin every game this season.

After that, the Pokes have to be able to slow down Klein. If Klein can keep the Cowboys’ defense off balance by mixing up the run and the pass, then Oklahoma State is going to have to play very well on offense to keep up (which they’re obviously capable of doing).

4. Your offense has torched everything in its path (including a statistically-great Tech squad), what can a Big 12 defense do to slow it down?

It’s a lot more difficult this year than it was last year, because last year you could basically stop K-State if you could take away the running game. And by take away the running game, I mean commit anything less than 10 men to the box.

But this year, a couple things have changed. First, K-State’s offensive line is doing a great job of protecting Klein on passing plays, giving him time to make his reads and find open receivers. Second, Klein has improved at standing in the pocket and making those reads.

And finally, we have three receivers — Chris Harper, Tramaine Thompson, and Tyler Lockett — who can get open consistently.

To stop K-State, you have to be able to do one of two things. First, if you have a stout front seven and can stop the Wildcats’ rushing attack without committing extra defenders to the box, you have a much better chance of blanketing the field and covering the receivers.

Second, if you have stud athletes at cornerback who can consistently matchup with K-State’s receivers, then you can load the box to stop the run and trust your corners on an island.

5. More important aspect of the offense: run or pass?

That’s a hard question to answer this year. I’ll say pass because it’s the new dimension that has opened up the field and kept opposing defenses off balance.

6. K-State runs 63 plays a game but ran 90 (!) last year in Stillwater — which tempo do we see on Saturday?

My hope is that it’s more like 63. One of our writers, Panjandrum, has compiled a bunch of numbers and found that, on a yards-per-play and points-per-play basis, K-State has a better offense than Oregon. But the Wildcats don’t move at a nuclear tempo, so they don’t put up the ridiculous numbers Oregon does.

Especially with Joseph Randle and Wes Lunt on the other side of the field, Bill Snyder and Klein will be content to read the defense, adjust the play call if necessary, and snap the ball with less than five seconds on the play clock every single play, if necessary.

Of course, if it turns into a game like last year where neither defense could stop the opposing offense, then all bets are off.

7. Which unit has been the best on defense this season?

It’s a close call, because all three units have contributed to K-State’s defensive improvement in their own ways. But I think the linebackers have been the most impressive. Future pro Arthur Brown anchors the unit from the middle, and his pick six against Texas Tech put the final touch on that win. Brown also has comparable stats to supposed Heisman Trophy contender Manti Te’o.

And Tre Walker and Jarrell Childs have been solid at linebacker, while Justin Tuggle has proven a capable pass rusher.

8. Score prediction time

It’s always hard to pick against the defending champion, and the Cowboys have surprised me a little this year, but I think 2012 is K-State’s turn. It won’t be easy, but K-State moves to 9-0 with a 38-24 win over the Pokes.

If K-State gets the win and eventually wins the Big 12 this year, I have to say that I love the idea of Oklahoma State and K-State being the two schools to win the Big 12 after it moved to 10 teams, when every pundit in the land said that nobody other than Texas and Oklahoma would ever win the conference again.

  • http://twitter.com/mattamilian Matt Amilian (@mattamilian)

    Wholeheartedly agree with that last statement. Great info. It’d be nice if we had stud corners that could consistently match up with their receivers.

    • Clint Davison (@IDPokefan)

      “It’d be nice if we had stud corners…”
      Let’s just leave it at that!

  • orangestateofmind

    From the Fremeau Efficiency Index Offense Ratings:
    Oregon ranks 25
    K-state ranks 6
    OSU ranks 4
    who is #1 offense, Baylor, lol

    I think we can play the cats tough, but need some breaks to win the game. K-state has not given up many big plays on D but we had success last year so we’ll see how it plays out. Go Pokes!

  • http://oklahomastate.rivals.com DCPokeFan

    especially since…we thought we did!!

    • http://oklahomastate.rivals.com DCPokeFan

      mmm…meant to post this as a reply to Matt, not as a general comment. :(

      • http://twitter.com/mattamilian Matt Amilian (@mattamilian)

        Yeah I thought was in response to me the second I read it. Who knows, maybe they’ll come alive tomorrow night.

  • Cooper4391

    As an OSU student I’m wanting the upset so badly, to get Lunt this big game experience early and get a huge win will help get his confidence up. On the other side if we lose, I have no problem rooting for K-State the rest of the year, does not get more classy than Bill Snyder

  • madsenpoke

    +1

  • Cowboy-KS

    Key’s for the Cowboy Win:
    Play incrementally better than we played against TCU. That’s all it takes as we’re in the game.

  • Kevin

    Predictions:
    OSU 38 KSU 35
    Uniforms: new white helmet-white-orange
    Most important offensive unit: OLine
    Most important defensive unit: LBs

    Bold prediction: Quinn Sharp has a huge FG late in the 4th to seal the win

    OLine: Protect Lunt, open seams for the running game.
    LBs: tackle one-on-one, shed blockers, and fill gaps. If they do that it will take less pressure off the secondary, letting them actually be a difference maker instead of playing ultra deep.

    This is the signature win of the year. Go get it Cowboys!

    • Clint Davison (@IDPokefan)

      I’m going with your predictions! GO POKES!!!!!

  • Jadecy

    Two defensive turnovers (and none of our own of course) could be the difference in this game, which is no small feat! Klien gets his first pick six by Gilbert and suddenly he wakes up from whatever daydream he’s been playing in. Lunt is secretly wearing #3 beneath his jersey and pulls the upset in Lunt2Jackson fashion. Gundy goes visor at the 1:00 mark following a Quinn Sharp PAT to put the Pokes up 42-28.

  • Glen

    That stud corner is Gilbert, and the time is now for him to show up and make some big, and I mean big, plays.

  • G-Block

    I wonder how fast is Kevin Peterson (freshman cornerback)? I noticed he’s played a lot of Gilbert’s minutes in the TCU game. I don’t know if he could keep up with Lockett, but maybe Harper.

  • http://www.facebook.com/freddyrains2003 Fred Rains

    I’m just as worried about playing on the road at night. Doesn’t really seem to be our thing

  • BC

    For OSU to win this game we need two things (yes i am making fun of the responses)
    1. Randle and Smith combine for over 200 yards rushing (the passing game is on auto pilot and Lunt will be better this week)
    2. We need our return game to be better than all year. There are a lot of young pups on the return team that have had enough live action to put things together. They are all athletic enough to give Gilbert and Moore a wall to break one but it needs to happen this week.

    • Scott

      BC you said “live action”. ee ee ee ee eeeeeeeeeh

  • orangestateofmind

    anybody know if the K-State kicker usually gets touchbacks? Gilbert has shown some life on the return game, maybe he can take one to the house this week