The Week Ahead: K-State hopes for sixth straight win over struggling Texas

Kansas State and Texas are teams heading in opposite directions.

The Wildcats have bounced back well from an opening loss with back-to-back wins and seem to have their running game back on track just in time for the start of Big 12 play.

The Longhorns have lost back-to-back games in embarrassing fashion (they let BYU and Mississippi combine for more than 800 rushing yards) and it seems like everyone and their dog is calling for longtime coach Mack Brown to resign.

It would seem as though K-State is catching Texas at the right time. There is one amazing soap-opera going down in Austin right now. But maybe this is the week the Longhorns figure out how to defend the zone read. Las Vegas oddsmakers clearly think that much is possible, as they have made Texas a four-point favorite.

One thing is for sure: This is a very important game for both teams. The winner will start the Big 12 season with a victory and pick up valuable momentum heading into important stretches. The loser will need to climb out of a hole. K-State has shown progress in its past two games, but the Wildcats don’t have much room for error at 2-1 with a trip to Oklahoma State up next. Texas is already in a world of hurt at 1-2. You have to wonder if players would quit on Brown after another loss.

Here is a look at everything else you need to know about the week ahead:
Read More »

Football Friday: Tre Walker, John Hubert, a schedule switch and Bill Snyder in a visor

Kansas State takes on Massachusetts at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

That means it’s time for another Football Friday.

The Wildcats are favored by 39 and should win easy. They will play two quarterbacks. Backups should see time in the second half.

That’s all the introduction we need. Let’s get to your questions:

Many have second-guessed the timing of the North Dakota State game. Looking back, I’m sure K-State would have preferred to open with someone else. The Bison, despite their affiliation with the FCS, were the strongest nonconference opponent on K-State’s schedule. UMass would have been a much softer opening opponent. In an ideal world, K-State would have switched those games and be preparing to face North Dakota State as we speak. But those dates are planned years in advance. That being said, I think the Wildcats would probably beat the Bison if they played now. They generally start slow (barely beating Eastern Kentucky and UMass in past openers) and improve with each week. But it would still be a difficult game. North Dakota State is a fine football team that out-played K-State three weeks ago. One computer poll ranked it 35th at the end of last season, and a senior-laden roster returned. That team is dangerous. It would have been a competitive game regardless of when it was played.
Read More »

Fiesta Bowl Countdown: When it comes to football uniforms, Oregon is a trendsetter

Before the Oregon Ducks take the field next month at the Fiesta Bowl, they will need to figure out what they’re going to wear.

That’s never an easy task for a football team with close ties to Nike and Phil Knight. The Ducks have hundreds of different uniform options to choose from, and they go out of their way to make sure they don’t wear the same thing twice.

One week they come out with neon yellow numbers, the next their shoulder pads will feature wings or spikes. Sometimes they wear all white. Other times they wear black and green, yellow and green or throw in some gray. Point is: They never look the same.

Lots of teams (Oklahoma State, Baylor, Maryland) try to do the same with their uniforms. What they wear from week to week is considered news. Plenty more (TCU, Boise State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Notre Dame) break out special uniforms for special games.

New and loud uniforms are practically common place in college football, but that wasn’t always the case. Oregon started it all. Oregon was the trendsetter.
Read More »

Sunday Rewind: K-State 51, Missouri State 9

Kansas State’s 51-9 victory over Missouri State on Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium was the closest 42-point victory you will ever see.

At halftime, the Wildcats led 9-6 and everyone feared this could be Eastern Kentucky all over again.

Early in the third quarter, the Bears tied things up at 9-9.

As the clock ran out, it was a blowout.

So how did K-State turn a game that was tied in the second half into the lopsided victory all BCS conference teams hope for on opening night?

Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
Read More »

Sunday Rewind: K-State 28, Miami 24

Overall Assessment: This was Kansas State’s biggest win since … when?

That’s the question I think is most up for debate today. The Wildcats defeated the Miami Hurricanes 28-24 at Sun Life Stadium and Saturday’s game certainly has to rank highly among recent wins for the program.

Beating Texas, UCLA and Central Florida were all nice wins last year, but they each came at home. A 62-14 thumping of Texas A&M was awfully impressive two seasons ago, but the Aggies were a different bunch back then. They aren’t comparable to a road win over Miami.

I think you’ve got to back to 2007, when K-State crushed Texas 41-21 in Austin under Ron Prince to find a more impressive victory. Under current coach Bill Snyder, this is probably the biggest win since the Wildcats took down top-ranked Oklahoma 35-7 in the 2003 Big 12 championship game.

Saturday’s win wasn’t anywhere near that meaningful, and Snyder said that he doesn’t think K-State has “arrived” yet. He thinks it still has plenty of work ahead of it. That’s true. The Wildcats will need to continue improving to win tough upcoming games against Baylor and Missouri, but this was a nice start down that path.

K-State looked brilliant on offense at times behind Collin Klein and John Hubert. And its defense played well enough to win against a strong, fast Miami offense. Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:

Player Evaluations

Seven that were good:

1. Collin Klein. Kansas State’s quarterback did everything on Saturday. He ran for 93 yards (many of them tough yards) on 22 carries and threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Most of his passes were short, but they were all safe. The only time he took a risk he made a perfect pass, lofting the ball over a linebacker and in between two defensive backs to hit Tyler Lockett for a 20-yard touchdown. He left the game with blood on his jersey, too many scratches to count and a slight limp in his step. But he said that simply came from being tired after a tough game. His teammates appreciated his efforts.

Here’s what Chris Harper had to say about Klein: “I told him at halftime, ‘Since we’re in Florida you should go into Tim Tebow mode.’ That’s really what he was out there doing … He played tough. He played really, really tough. I was proud of him today. He took some hits.”
Read More »

Sunday Rewind: K-State 37, Kent State 0

Overall Assessment: Kansas State looked like an all-around better football team than it did two weeks ago, but it still has room to grow. Up next is a very difficult road test against Miami, which beat Ohio State last night. The competition will be much harder in South Beach than it has been at home in front of sellout crowds, and we will probably learn more about the Wildcats in that game than we have so far.

Still, we know a few things about them today.

For starters, K-State’s defense continues to look like a legitimately strong unit. It has allowed a total of seven points in two games, and the one touchdown it allowed came only after Eastern Kentucky started a drive one yard away from the end zone. So it has essentially come up with two shutouts. Regardless of the competition, that is impressive.

Less is known on the offensive side of the ball, where Collin Klein made a nice pass late to beat Eastern Kentucky and led K-State to a solid first half against Kent State, but then sputtered in the second. Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:

Player Evaluations

Five that were good:

1. Arthur Brown. The junior linebacker is making a huge difference on K-State’s defense. On Saturday he made 12 tackles, two for losses, and closed on the ball faster than anyone else on the field. When Snyder hints that he is the best defensive player he has coached since coming out of retirement, he isn’t kidding. Here’s the scary thing: Both Brown and Snyder think he hasn’t reached his top form.

2. David Garrett. The interception he returned for a touchdown early in the first quarter set the tone for the game. K-State’s defense was ready to overwhelm Kent State in all phases, and the Wildcats used Garrett’s big play as a springboard to an excellent night. Garrett is one of the most underrated players in the conference, often getting overlooked because of size even though he led the Wildcats in tackles a year ago. But he had a highlight moment last night.
Read More »

Position Preview: Linebacker

Of all the positions on Kansas State’s football team, the Wildcats should be most improved at linebacker.

By a wide margin.

Instead of rotating between a veteran, two underclassmen and a converted safety at two spots on the field, K-State coaches will have six players with experience at the position to turn to.

With Miami transfer Arthur Brown leading the way in the middle, many expect the Wildcats to be a completely different defense in 2011. His presence allows K-State to switch from a 4-2-5 formation, which hasn’t worked at all against explosive opponents, to a more traditional 4-3.

Along with the return of Alex Hrebec, a senior who is coming off a season in which he made 77 tackles, and Tre Walker, who looked good making 47 tackles as a freshman, K-State should have a solid group of starters. Maybe even a group the defense can lean on.
Read More »

New linebackers give K-State depth, options

One of the most important needs of the Kansas State football team in 2011 will be improved play from its linebackers.

The Wildcats were weak on defense a year ago, and a lack of depth and experience at linebacker was a big reason why. Alex Hrebec was the only proven player at the position to start the season, and underclassmen Jarell Childs, Blake Slaughter and Tre Walker all had to play major roles.

That entire group returns this year, along with Emmanuel Lamur, a converted safety, and Arthur Brown, a former high school All-American.

Lamur’s athleticism, Brown’s upside and the rest of the unit’s experience has created hope. K-State coach Bill Snyder already sees improvement.

“The group as a whole, we run better,” Snyder said. “I think we’re probably going to be a little more physical. I think we’re going to be a little bit better defending against the pass, because we’re probably a little more athletic than what we were.”
Read More »

Postgame: K-State 39, Texas 14

At one point during its 39-14 victory over Texas, Daniel Thomas said one of the Longhorns’ defensive backs began complaining of boredom.

That pretty much sums up what happened Saturday night. The Wildcats ran the ball so effectively and often that Texas cornerbacks and safeties had little to do. The plan caught the Longhorns by surprise and K-State easily picked up its sixth win of the season and became bowl eligible.

Here’s a deeper look:

1. Collin Klein added a whole new element to K-State’s rushing attack. The sophomore quarterback made the first start of his college career and rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. He made good reads throughout the night, and his speed was a nice complement to Thomas’s bruising running style. Read More »

Few surprises on K-State depth chart

As expected yesterday, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder named senior Carson Coffman his starting quarterback.

At his weekly news conference today, Snyder once again stuck with the familiar when he released the depth chart for Saturday’s game against UCLA.

Most of his starters have on-field experience, and were names most of us in the media expected to see. But there were a few surprises.

For starters, Tramaine Thompson will start at wide receiver along with Aubrey Quarles and Brodrick Smith. Read More »