October 3, 2013

Scouting the Kansas State Wildcats

Last season had the hype, the atmosphere, and the game that surrounded what it was-Oklahoma State against Kansas State, one of the budding rivalries in college football.

It had bone-crushing hits, an insane crowd, and a lot of touchdowns. I was on the sideline for most of the contest and my ears rang all the way back to Stillwater. They were that good in Manhattan.

This year, it's not exactly the same type of game.

Oklahoma State was picked to win the conference in the preseason, but they're coming in off of a surprising loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers last weekend.

Kansas State is fresh off a bye week at a disappointing 2-2 record, with losses to Texas and North Dakota State, and they don't exactly resemble the Wildcats that we're used to.

Let's break down the team that makes the trip down to Stillwater on Saturday.

Last season, the Wildcats were driven by quarterback Collin Klein, who's 'Optimus Klein' nickname is one of the coolest I've ever heard. He was in the Heisman race until late, and eventually led that squad to a Big 12 Championship. This year, it's Jake Waters at the helm, who's surprisingly similar to Klein. Waters is a 6-1, 210 pound junior who has thrown for 948 yards, 4 TD's and 5 INT's, and has also rushed for another two touchdowns. He's not the Jerome Bettis-type quarterback that Klein was last season, but he's certainly capable of giving you headaches on the ground if his air game isn't working.

Not your usual KSU defense
A year ago, the Wildcats ranked in the top half of the conference in every team defense category, headlined by their 22.1 points per game allowed, which was the best in the conference. This time around, the only statistic they rank in the top half of the conference in is pass defense (ranked 5th), and they're allowing a hefty 31.8 points per game. Does that mean there's a chance for Oklahoma State to run away with this thing early? Absolutely. Will they, given their offensive struggles? Who knows, but the chance is there.

We're not in a rush
It's no secret that KSU coach Bill Snyder loves the old school, grind-it-out style of play, and with that usually comes a solid rushing attack. The 'cats averaged just under 200 yards of rushing last season, but have a somewhat noticeable limp this season with 158.5 yards per game on the ground. Not only that, but they only have one running back in the top 10 in rushing in the conference, with John Hubert's 238 yards coming in at ninth-best in the Big 12.

All-around good guy
There's a name that most certainly will be called over the PA system on Saturday, and that's KSU iron man Tyler Lockett. He leads the Big 12 in all-purpose yards, with 629 overall (469 receiving, 160 on kick returns, 157.2 yards per game). Lockett torched the OSU kickoff team last season with a 100-yard touchdown return, and had 202 total yards in the game. It's no secret that Oklahoma State is going to have to control him if they want to come out with a win on Saturday.

Big, bad Bill
Bill Snyder's still in charge in Manhattan, and that's enough to circle this game on the schedule. OSU D-line coach Joe Bob Clements, who was on Snyder's staff last season, called him one of the best coaches in the nation, and Mike Gundy wouldn't even compare his resurrection of the Oklahoma State program to that of Snyder's work up north. Snyder has a 66% career win percentage overall, and is known for being one of the best coaches around. He has two Big 12 Championships in his trophy case, and surely has a few tricks up his sleeves for this Saturday.

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