For the Kansas State Wildcats as they prepare for their Big 12 opener this week against Iowa State in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium, questions on the defensive side of the ball remain. Last week, against an FCS opponent in the Missouri State Bears, the Cats surrendered 450 yards of total offense and looked shaky to say the least against both the run and the pass. This week, they face a dual-threat QB in senior Austen Arnaud, who has had success against KSU in the past. Last year, Arnaud threw two touchdowns and ran for another against the Cats, also played in Arrowhead Stadium. Two years ago, in Manhattan, the Cyclone quarterback accounted for almost 500 yards of total offense. Another concern for the Wildcat defense will be slowing down the Iowa State ground game, led by senior RB Alexander Robinson, who despite being held in check last week against the Iowa Hawkeyes, rushed for almost 1,200 yards last year despite a rash of injuries. A big key to Kansas State’s success on Saturday will be to establish long, time-consuming drives, keeping Arnaud, Robinson and the rest of the Cyclone offense off the field.
With that in mind, look for the Wildcats to lean heavily on senior RB Daniel Thomas to grind out yards and extend drives. Thomas shouldn’t have too much difficulty against a Cyclone defense that currently ranks 104th nationally against the run and allowed Iowa running back Adam Robinson to average over 11 yards per carry last week in the Hawkeye’s 35-7 victory. Iowa State will certainly try to slow Thomas down initially, but as the game progresses, Kansas State should be able to wear the Cyclones down. Kansas State also hopes to see continued success from their quarterback, Carson Coffman. The senior signal-caller played well last week, finishing with a career-high 280 yards and three touchdowns, albeit against a 1-AA opponent. Against Iowa State, Coffman again won’t be called upon to make the big plays, but rather to be efficient and avoid costly turnovers.
Much like last year’s contest, this one has the makings of being pretty close at the end. Again, the game is being played on a neutral site, thus the “home field advantage” Kansas State was to have has been lessened to a certain degree. In addition, there is a decent chance of precipitation in the Kansas City area for the game which could play a role in deciding the outcome. Both teams will want to establish the run and should have their share of success, especially if wet conditions on the field become a factor. Expect strong performances from the defensive leaders of both teams, K-State’s DE Brandon Harold and Iowa State’s LB A.J. Klein. Klein, a sophomore, leads the Big 12 in tackles but will have his hands full slowing down Thomas and the Wildcat running game. Also, look for the Wildcat secondary to bounce back after a poor showing against Missouri State. Junior FS Emmanuel Lamur didn’t play last week, so Kansas State will be counting on his presence to help what’s been a suspect secondary at this point in the young season.
Kansas State – 27
Iowa State – 21
About the Author
Written by Chad Craghead
A 1988 graduate from Wichita State University, Chad has followed WSU as well as Kansas State athletics for over 30 years, along with being a lifelong Boston Red Sox and L.A./St. Louis Rams fan.