Coming off an embarrassing 48-13 defeat to Nebraska last week, the Kansas State Wildcats will look to bounce back against in-state rival Kansas for a second consecutive Thursday night contest. The Wildcats were manhandled in all facets of the game last week, led by Husker QB Taylor Martinez, who ran for 241 yards and four touchdowns. After the defeat, the Kansas State defense fell to 106th nationally against the run, allowing 247 yards per game. The Wildcats defense won’t face that much firepower this week against the Jayhawks, but will still need to at least begin to show improvement, especially up the middle against the run. Kansas averages just over 140 yards per game on the ground, and have become a more balanced offense. The Jayhawk’s are led by true freshman RB James Sims and receivers Daymond Patterson and D.J. Beshears. Despite losing starting offensive guard Trevor Marrongelli, Kansas will look to control the ball with Sims, running a more up-tempo style offense and staying balanced with quick screens to their playmakers. It will be imperative for Kansas to run the clock and keep Kansas State’s star RB Daniel Thomas, on the sidelines.
For the Wildcats to get back in the win column this week, Thomas and the running game will need to get on track. Coming off back-to-back, sub-par performances against Nebraska and Central Florida, Thomas will once again confront a stacked line of defenders that will attempt to slow him and the Wildcat offense down. It has become clear that’s going to be the game plan the rest of the year for opposing defenses when they play Kansas State. The Wildcats simply don’t pose a threat in the passing game, and have been forced to rely on Thomas and back-up RB William Powell to grind out yardage. We’re beating a dead horse here, but for QB Carson Coffman to have any success through the air, the Wildcats need more play action passing on first down. Having said that, the offensive line hasn’t performed well in pass blocking for much the year, forcing Coffman to scramble which clearly isn’t one of his strengths. In addition, the Wildcats lost starting WR Broderick Smith to a season-ending leg injury, so will be turning to Oregon transfer Chris Harper to fill the void. What all this means is Head Coach Bill Snyder and Offensive Coordinators Dana Dimel and Del Miller will need to get creative and figure out ways to get Thomas into situations where his abilities can best be utilized. Pounding him between the tackles or simply running him from the “Wildcat” formation have not worked over the past two weeks. Look for a more “imaginative” offensive scheme this week against the Jayhawks.
For the Wildcats to entertain any hopes of participating in a bowl game later this year, the Kansas game is a must-win. First-year Head Coach Turner Gil and the Jayhawks are coming off their own beating at the hands of the Baylor Bears, so both teams are licking their wounds as they prepare for this week’s contest. Two questions: Will Kansas State be able to get Thomas rolling again in the open field with toss sweeps and screens and not just run him between the tackles? Will the defense step up and stop the Kansas running game or at least slow it down, something they haven’t done against anyone to this point in the season? Another factor to keep in mind, Kansas State hasn’t won in Lawrence since 2002 and are playing their first official road game of the year.
The bottom line is as mentioned earlier; Kansas State needs this win to entertain any hope of playing in December. Even winning this game and perhaps the final one of the year against North Texas, would get them to six victories but a bowl game still wouldn’t be a certainty. Realistically, they need three more wins for that “guarantee” and it starts tomorrow night against the Kansas Jayhawks.
Kansas State - 24
Kansas - 20
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.