As the season opener against UCLA draws nearer and starting roles fall into place, how the K-State offense should approach its first opponent becomes more obvious.
It’s a principle most of us learned at an early age. It applies to just about anything you can think of, sports or not. Given the circumstances, I’ll modify the terminology, but the message remains the same. If the Wildcats want to open the season with a win, they need to “keep it simple, Snyder.”
Forgive the bad humor. I’m a sports writer and not a comedian for a reason. But jokes aside, this game seems more winnable by the day, even if head coach Bill Snyder only wants to use a few pages of the playbook. This will likely be the case anyway, as Snyder has a habit of running as basic an offense as possible, but in this particular case, that might be all K-State needs — for several reasons.
Reason one: UCLA’s front seven. For those who believe the battle starts in the trenches, this game should have you licking your chops. The Bruins lost their only returning starter on the defensive line when Datone Jones broke his foot in an offseason practice. Their linebacking corps isn’t exactly loaded with experience either as Akeem Ayers is the only returning player who started more than one game at that position in 2009.
Reason two: K-State’s offensive line. With a front five that is comparable in size to some NFL teams, expect the Wildcats to run the ball early and often. Lining up against a largely inexperienced defense doesn’t really hurt matters either. Add Braden Wilson, who proved to be a good blocking fullback last season, and that could mean a huge day for the Wildcats. Nothing against K-State’s passing game, but it seems a little risky to test a group of new receivers against a pretty strong secondary if it isn’t necessary.
Reason three: Daniel Thomas. Everyone knows what Thomas did last year, so I’ll refrain from spouting off a bunch of numbers, but Thomas has made one thing pretty clear this offseason — he’s bigger and stronger. That could mean major problems for a team like the Bruins that will be trying to break in numerous defensive starters.
For all intents and purpose, I expect K-State to leave Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday with a 1-0 record. I’m sure Snyder would like to do so without revealing too much of the playbook. Look for K-State to leave with a win and to do so in a simple fashion. Stay tuned.