Kansas State will value possession time against Baylor, but is possession time an important statistic in today’s game?

Earlier this week, Kansas State center B.J. Finney was asked about Baylor’s jaw-dropping offense. As an offensive lineman, he has spent most of his time leading up to Saturday’s game against the Bears studying their defense, but he had an answer prepared anyway.

“Time of possession,”Finney said. “The way you halt that is keeping that offense off the field. That is a big gameplan, as it always is, for us, to control the clock and control the tempo. We can’t let that slip away from us.”

Finney’s response wasn’t surprising. K-State coach Bill Snyder loves to win the time-of-possession statistic. When the Wildcats run the ball effectively and control the clock, he likes their chances.

But it’s worth pointing out that Baylor ranks 110th nationally in possession time, holding the ball for an average of 27 minutes, 12 seconds a game. It loses the possession battle weekly, yet wins games so easily that starters come out in the third quarter. The Bears are averaging 70.5 points and 779.5 yards.
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Sunday Rewind: K-State 53, Texas A&M 50

Overall Assessment:
Kansas State was without one of its top offensive playmakers, its quarterback was clearly in pain when the game began and several of its defensive players had to fight through injuries in the second half.

Not an ideal combination for a team trying to bounce back from disappointing losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

But, in typical K-State fashion, the Wildcats found a way to win. In four overtimes! Yes, I just used an exclamation mark.

Saturday’s game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium was one of the strangest and most exciting of the season. Combined with last week’s entertaining 52-45 loss at Oklahoma State, the Wildcats are delivering must-see TV to ABC/ESPN.

At 8-2 overall and 5-2 in Big 12 play, plenty of bowl games are starting to look at them. With a strong finish, they could end up in the Cotton Bowl.

K-State still has plenty to work on if it hopes to get an invitation to the Big 12’s top non BCS bowl. It continues to start games slowly, and was once again unable to sack the opposing quarterback. But as long as it continues to play with the resolve it has all season, K-State will have a shot at a 10-win season.

“With the exception of one ballgame, they’ve done it week in, week out,” Snyder said. “… It’s all about how we respond to things, and I think with the exception of kind of getting a little full of ourselves prior to the Oklahoma ballgame, I think we’ve responded quite well.”

Against Texas A&M, the Wildcats rallied from a 14-0 deficit, a 31-21 deficit and won in quadruple overtime. It was a fitting end to the series before the Aggies jump to the SEC. The only other overtime game K-State has played came against Texas A&M in the 1998 Big 12 championship game.

Collin Klein once again led K-State’s offense to the victory, and the defense came through with big plays when it had to behind Nigel Malone and Emmanuel Lamur. Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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This week’s player to watch: Roosevelt Nix

Roosevelt Nix made quite a name for himself last season when he became the first true freshman to ever be named Defensive Player of the Year in the Mid-American Conference.

The 6-foot (or 5-foot-11, depending on where you look) 244-pound defensive tackle earned the honor by making a whopping 20 tackles for loss, including 10 sacks, and forcing four fumbles. Now a sophomore, many in the MAC are wondering how he didn’t get more of a look from nearby Big 10 schools, especially after he started the 2011 season by recording a sack and two tackles for loss at Alabama.

No wonder he was a consensus freshman All-American and made it onto both the Bednarik and Nagurski Watch Lists.
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Position Preview: Offensive Line

Based on the lineups used during last week’s Fan Appreciation Day, here is what Kansas State’s offensive line should look like a week from Saturday against Eastern Kentucky:

Manase Foketi at left tackle, Keenan Taylor at left guard, B.J. Finney at center, Colten Freeze at right guard and Clyde Aufner at right tackle.

Even with the losses of Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert and Kenneth Mayfield, you pretty much know what you’re going to get with that lineup.

Foketi is a senior who started a year ago at the same position. He was good enough to win the spot and hold it all season, but he never did anything extraordinary. Aufner only started nine games at right tackle, but earned more praise from his coaches. Both should be solid returners on the ends of K-State’s line.

On the interior, where K-State will need to replace the three veteran leaders mentioned above, there are more question marks. Finney looks like a strong up-and-comer at center, but he is only a redshirt freshman.

The two guard spots seemed like a toss up heading into fall practices, and Taylor and Freeze may have to prove themselves in games to earn sustained playing time.
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K-State’s best unsung summer players

By now, it’s pretty obvious that players such as Tysyn Hartman, Arthur Brown and Collin Klein are excelling at Kansas State’s voluntary summer workouts. All three have been voted captains by their teammates, and all three were invited to Dallas for Big 12 Media Days by coach Bill Snyder.

But what about the players further down the depth chart? What about some newcomers? Who came into the offseason flying under the radar (excuse the cliche) but now has a chance to turn a few heads during games?

I asked those questions earlier this week, and came away with a handful of answers.

On the offensive line … “A lot of guys are working hard up front,” said Klein, a junior quarterback. “Clyde Aufner, B.J. Finney, Colten Freeze, I could go on and on.”

Aufner started eight games a year ago at tackle and as a senior should be one of the leaders on K-State’s line. Finney received great reviews from teammates at the end of spring practices. I will be surprised if he doesn’t start at center as a redshirt freshman. Freeze played in all 13 games last season in a reserve role, but could make a run at starting right guard this year.
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