Tag Archives: Gameday

Chandler Riley | Collegian 

Senior wide receiver Tramaine Thompson blocks for junior wide receiver Tyler Lockett as he returns a kickoff during the second half
of the Texas game on Sept. 21. Lockett broke the school record for most receiving yards during the game against the Longhorns and looked to build on his achievements in Stillwater, Okla. against the Cowboys.

K-State set to take on reeling Oklahoma State

The last time the K-State Wildcats traveled to Stillwater, Okla., the Wildcats trailed the Oklahoma State Cowboys 52-45 with one second left on the clock, and it was third-and-goal from the five yard line.

On the next play, former K-State quarterback Collin Klein rolled to the right, stepped into the pocket and then fired a pass over the head of then-sophomore wide receiver Tramaine Thompson that sailed through the back of the end zone.

It was the second and final loss of the 2011 regular season for the Wildcats, who later went to the Cotton Bowl, but it was a painful one nonetheless.

The two teams had combined for 28 points in the final six minutes of the game and the Wildcats went toe-to-toe with the then-third ranked team in the country. Nevertheless, it was the second straight week K-State had lost as they were coming off a blowout at the hands of Oklahoma in the previous week.

Last year, the Wildcats exacted their revenge with a dominating 44-30 win at Bill Snyder Family Stadium en route to a Big 12 title. Last year’s game against the Cowboys was also the first time Daniel Sams had seen any meaningful playing time in Big 12 play, as Klein left the game midway through with a concussion.

Sams was left with the task of not letting a 24-point lead slip. The Cowboys ended up cutting the game to 14, but K-State left victorious and Sams finished with 45 yards passing on just 5-of-6 attempts and also ran for 20 yards.

“I thought Daniel did reasonably well,” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said after that game. “He did not make any major mistakes, he ran out of bounds one time when we were trying to run the clock out. He does not have that figured out yet. Aside from that, he managed the game okay.”

Now Sams is one of two quarterbacks heavily used by the Wildcats and said he hopes to have a big role as K-State looks to rebound from its Week Four 31-21 loss to the Texas Longhorns.

“We have two quarterbacks that are playing well,” Snyder said during his bye week press conference. “And as I have said before, both of them deserve the opportunity to play and both of them will have the opportunity to play.”

Against Texas when the Wildcats fell behind early, junior quarterback Jake Waters took the reins as the team was forced to go to the air in attempt to cut the deficit. Sams never even saw the field in the second half.

Late in the fourth quarter, K-State had cut Texas’ lead down to 10 points and the Widlcats were knocking on the door inside the 10 yard line. But two fumbles on consecutive drives by Waters dashed any hope of a late comeback.

Snyder said this week that Waters has put that behind him, though, and that he’s ready to go into Stillwater with a clean slate.

“He is one of those young guys that does not let it affect him,” Snyder said. “He is one of those guys that is ready to move on to the next snap, ready to move on to the next practice and ready to move on to the next game. It hurts him when it happens, but he understands that you have to play to the next snap.”

It wasn’t all bad in Austin, Texas for K-State, though. Junior wide receiver Tyler Lockett set a school record with 237 receiving yards and leads the Big 12 in receptions per game at 7.2.

This weekend, Lockett said he is going into the game looking to avenge the 2011 loss the Wildcats suffered to the Cowboys.

“The last time we went to Oklahoma State we ended up losing, and this is my last time playing at Oklahoma State,” Lockett said. “When you look back at it, you do not want the same thing to happen again. I think it really starts on the practice field, but I think a lot of players are really getting ready for this game on Saturday.”

The Wildcats had two weeks to correct the mistakes that presented so many problems in the Texas game, as K-State had a bye week last Saturday. Snyder said that having that much time to prepare magnified the issues his team his faced after its second loss.

“When you lose a couple of ball games, those things tend to grow a little bit,” Snyder said. “And it is important to thoroughly investigate those things each week, win, lose or draw.”

One of the biggest issues on the defensive side of the ball for K-State has been the pass rush. Going into Saturday, the Wildcats are seventh in the Big 12 in sacks with just seven. Against the Longhorns, senior Wildcat defensive lineman Chaquil Reed was the only player to manage to get to the quarterback as he recorded the team’s lone sack in the loss.

Sophomore defensive end Marquel Bryant said this week that the defense is putting an increased emphasis on improving its ability to put pressure on the quarterback.

“It is a big deal coming from the defensive ends’ point of view,” Bryant said. “Lately these last few games, we have not been giving too much. I feel like we can give so much more. [Oklahoma State is] more of a passing team, so it is a big deal for us to get back there. The coaches have been on us during practice and drills about our handwork to get to the quarterback.”

As for the Oklahoma State Cowboys, they’re coming off their first loss of the season, a 30-21 upset in Morgantown, W.Va. at the hands of the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The Cowboys were initially picked as the top team in the conference in the preseason Big 12 poll. But with the Oklahoma Sooners being the only team ranked in the Top 15 of the AP Poll, the conference is anybody’s for the taking this season.

Snyder said that the Cowboys will come out with an increased competitiveness following the loss, though.

“They will be angry. They certainly will continue to be very competitive,” Snyder said. “I think it is that emotion when you lose a ballgame — the real competitive people get very upset about it and anger can be channeled in the right direction to help perform.”

The Cowboys are led by sophomore quarterback J.W. Walsh, whose dual-threat capability has him ranked fourth in the conference in total yards per game with 299.5.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy also employs the spread no-huddle offense, as do most Big 12 teams. That will be one of the biggest obstacles for the Wildcats to overcome on Saturday.

“I would say their tempo just because they are faster than any team that we have faced this year,” sophomore defensive back Dante Barnett said. “But every team in the Big 12 has a fast tempo and a spread offense. So I feel like we have been preparing all year for this.”

Ultimately, both K-State and Oklahoma State are coming off losses, and both teams are looking to get their season back on track. A win on Saturday for either side could set the tone for the entire season, while a loss would likely bury any chance of winning the Big 12.

“We are angry after a loss, so I would assume that they are angry after a loss and motivated like we are,” sophomore kicker Jack Cantele said. “I expect a good game, and we expect them to be the team that everyone thinks that they are. It is going to be a good challenge for us.”

Emily DeShazer | Collegian
The Wildcats offensive line will be a key factor in the Wildcats offensive success and will be anchored by junior center BJ Finney.

Foundation of next season’s football team starts with veteran offensive line

There are question marks at nearly every position on both sides of the ball when it comes to the 2013-14 K-State football team. The Wildcats are losing some outstanding players, including Heisman Trophy candidate Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown. For head coach Bill Snyder, filling the holes left by these players will be no easy task.

However, the one anchor that the Wildcats’ offense can lean on is its offensive line. The Wildcats are returning four of the five starters from the offensive line that started in the Fiesta Bowl. BJ Finney, Cornelius Lucas, Cody Whitehair and Keenan Taylor will all be back to protect their quarterback.

The only loss the offensive line will have to deal with is Nick Puetz.

“It is huge, that is where it all starts,” said wide receiver Tramaine Thompson on having a veteran offensive line. “Having a lot of games played in between all of those guys and having those guys come back is huge, especially with a young quarterback. It can take a lot of pressure off the quarterback because they can figure stuff out amongst themselves. With BJ [Finney] being a veteran, he can almost figure out things before the quarterback sometimes.”

The offensive line will play a big role for whoever has to transition to the starting quarterback role. Currently redshirt sophomore Daniel Sams and junior college transfer Jake Waters are battling it out to see who will replace Klein.

The leadership that a veteran offensive line can provide will be instrumental to whoever gets the job. According to Sams, that need for leadership could stand in the way between him and the starting job.

“It would be my leadership,” said Sams about what he needs to improve on. “Being that guy on and off the field, because coach Snyder stresses that it is hard to be a leader if you do not do the right things off the field.”

Last year, the offensive line was critical to the team’s success. They only allowed one sack per game on average, and helped Klein and running back John Hubert become the 32nd-best rushing attack in the country last season.

Because all of the team’s returning starters are upperclassmen except Whitehair, who is a sophomore, the foundation that it can lay with the rest of the team may set the tone for the entire season.

“The dynamics are different every year no matter who does what,” Snyder said. “You would like to think that this group has gained a great deal of knowledge about things other than just football with the assistance of the young people who were here a year ago.”

Snyder said that although the team’s leadership has not developed as far as he would have liked it to at this point in the spring, he believes his team is capable of having a strong foundation.

“I think that it has not evolved yet into the quality of leadership that we would like and hope to have,” Snyder said. “I think that has taken more time than what I had hoped for. I think we will get there and guys want that. I have not been disappointed with their effort, but I think that this group really does not understand what they are capable of.”

While the offensive line is filled with returners, it may have to make changes as well. The Wildcats were a run-oriented team last season, but a more balanced approach may be the goal in 2013.

“The potential to be more balanced is certainly there, but that is always our intent,” Snyder said. “In practice, if we throw it once, we’re going to run it once. If we throw it 20 times, we’re going to run it 20 times. We are going to prepare as a balanced football team on offense.”

Fans will get their first glance at the new Wildcats on Saturday. They’ll get to see firsthand who may be winning some of the crucial quarterback battles.

Questions seem to linger for the offensive line, and on Saturday the veteran group will simply go out and continue to do what it has done for the past several seasons.

Emily DeShazer | Collegian
Sophomore Daniel Sams will look to fill the shoes of Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein next season. Sams is in a deadlock race with junior college transfer Jake Waters, who is one of the nation's most highly-touted junior college quarterbacks.

Sams, Waters compete to become next K-State QB

For the last two seasons, K-State’s head coach Bill Snyder has had the fortune of knowing who his quarterback was. Collin Klein won many football games and was named a Heisman trophy finalist; replacing him will not be an easy task.

Snyder has always been a fan of competition and his players pushing each other. Luckily, he has good two candidates to compete to be the new Wildcat signal caller. The race is between Daniel Sams and Jake Waters.

Sams was Klein’s backup last season and even saw some action. Waters was named the 2012 national junior college player of the year after leading Iowa Western to a perfect season capped off with a national championship. Each player possesses his own specific skill set that makes this one of the most competitive quarterback races not only in the Big 12 Conference, but also in the entire country.

Snyder has always found success with extremely mobile quarterbacks who can carve up defenses with their ability to run. Sams brings this talent to the table along with his experience inside Snyder’s system. He will remind fans of players like Michael Bishop or Ell Roberson, but he is still young.

Having only thrown eight passes last season, Sams’ passing ability is still to be questioned. However, there is no doubting that he has the tools to be an effective quarterback.

While at Iowa Western Community College, Waters did everything that he was asked to do. During his second season, Waters broke the competitions percentage record as he completed nearly 74 percent of his passes. Off his 333 pass attempts, Waters was only intercepted three times. His 3,500 yards and 39 touchdown passes showed the nation exactly what he can do with his arm.

The common misconception with both players is that one has the legs and the other has the arm. Sams will be able to showcase his arm during the spring game Saturday. Waters also has the ability to run, but he was not asked to do much of it in junior college. Last season, Waters picked up more than 250 yards on the ground to go along with six rushing touchdowns. Both of these quarterbacks are dual-threat players, a type of quarterback that Snyder has always been fond of.

The leader of the race is still a mystery to anyone outside of Vanier Football Complex. During his weekly press conferences, Snyder has expressed that the quarterbacks are splitting repetitions with the first team.

With the return of almost the entire offensive line, the starting running back and a majority of the receiving core from the Wildcats’ 2012 campaign, whoever wins the job will have a proven cast to support him.

There is something to be said for a player who leads his team to a perfect season while putting up nearly perfect statistics. For that reason, it appears Waters has the edge going into next season and has a good chance to win the quarterback battle.

However, Sams has the chance to show the K-State coaching staff that he is a hidden weapon because of opposing teams’ lack of familiarity with the young quarterback. Regardless of who is named the starter for the 2013 season, expectations should be high coming off of two straight seasons of 10 or more wins. With the players returning on offense, the Wildcats could have one of the most explosive offenses in the Big 12 next season.

Emily DeShazer | Collegian
Junior safety Ty Zimmerman will be a key part of a defense next year that will be without several star players from the 2012 Big 12 championship team.

Wildcats looking for several impact players on defense

With Arthur Brown, Nigel Malone, Meshak Williams and Justin Tuggle making their departure from the Wildcat defense, questions about their replacements will likely not be answered until the start of fall practices.
As spring practices wrap up this week with the Purple and White game, only a few spots are left to fill, with team captains linebacker Tre Walker and defensive back Ty Zimmerman returning as well as junior defensive back Randall Evans.

With no returning starters on the defensive line, speculation is high about players who will find their way to the field for the Aug. 30 kickoff against North Dakota State.

Defensive tackle Travis Britz, who will be a sophomore next season, worked himself into the rotation as a freshman and will be a likely candidate for a starting position in the middle of the Wildcat defense.
Joining Britz in competition will be senior Chaquil Reed, redshirt freshman Demonte Hood and freshman Matt Seiwert.

Having mostly spent time on pass rushing units through his first two seasons, junior defensive end Ryan Mueller will more than likely see an increased role due to his experience.
Working with Mueller at the defensive end spots will be sophomore Marquel Bryant, senior Alauna Finau and junior college transfer Devon Nash.

Numerous names will be in line for starting and rotation spots in the Wildcat secondary.
Coming back are Evans and Zimmerman, but plenty of unanswered questions stand right behind the returning duo.

Having stepped in for an injured Zimmerman late last season, sophomore Dante Barnett has game experience and will likely be counted on to provide a significant punch early in the season.
Joining the group will be sophomore Morgan Burns, senior Kip Daily and junior college transfers Nate Jackson and Travis Green.

Coming off a NJCAA National Championship at Iowa Western alongside Nash, Green will provide experience and leadership in an area where the Wildcats will need an immediate boost.

It is no secret that Arthur Brown gave the Wildcats a speed and physical element in their defense that very few teams had.
As Brown prepares for the NFL Draft, K-State continues to look for a group to replace the departed seniors that were led by Brown’s unique ability at middle linebacker.

Walker will be the key cog in the unit and will be joined by returning contributor junior Jonathan Truman.
Sophomore Mike Moore and senior Blake Slaughter will also provide depth to the position.
Capable options exist for head coach Bill Snyder and defensive coordinator Tom Hayes as they continue to move away from a senior-laden squad.
Despite the amount of questions that exist for the unit, talent and potential is high across the board.

Oregon Ducks’ speed, size make them K-State’s toughest opponent

When you think of college football’s new style of spread offense, the first team that should come to mind is the Oregon Ducks. 

While Texas A&M;’s Johnny Manziel gets most of the publicity for being a starting freshman quarterback who puts up big numbers, the Ducks have their own in Marcus Mariota, who has helped take this offense to another level.

On the season, Mariota has accounted for 3,201 total yards of offense and 34 touchdowns. Even more impressive, he has only thrown six interceptions. Standing at 6-feet-4-inches, 196 pounds, Mariota has everything you want in a quarterback. With his size and speed, he can get outside the pocket and make plays with both his arm and his feet. What makes him even more dangerous, though, are the running backs joining him in the backfield.

Senior Kenjon Barner and sophomore De’Anthony “Black Mamba” Thomas give Mariota two weapons who are able to score any time they touch the ball. Barner (1,624 yards and 21 touchdowns) is the go-to running back. With his speed and toughness, he is extremely difficult to tackle when he has the ball. He is also at his best in some of Oregon’s biggest games, rushing for 321 yards and five touchdowns in the Ducks’ 62-51 victory over the USC Trojans on Nov. 3.

Thomas (686 yards and 11 touchdowns), however, is perhaps the more exciting of the duo. He introduced himself to the country last season in the Rose Bowl, where he scored on carries of 64 and 91 yards — the only two carries he had in the bowl game. While he hasn’t quite put up the numbers that were expected of him, make no mistake about it: K-State does not want to see Thomas with the ball in his hands. His return abilities rival those of K-State sophomore wide receiver Tyler Lockett, so look for K-State to try to avoid giving him the ball. 

As good as the Ducks have been under head coach Chip Kelly on offense, their defense has not been able to put up the same results. However, this season has seen improvements, due in large part to senior linebacker/defensive end Dion Jordan.

Jordan is a freak athlete, standing at 6-feet-6-inches and 246 pounds. He is very similar to San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith in that he uses his size and speed to wreak havoc on quarterbacks. He will be a key in attempting to slow Collin Klein, as he stands at the same height with about 10 pounds on him. Look for the Ducks to use Jordan as both a rush-end as well as a linebacker, possibly even using him to spy on Klein.

The Ducks, like the Wildcats, appeared to be in control of their own destiny before falling to the Stanford Cardinals. That being said, this is still an incredibly talented team that is going to come out with a chip on their shoulder. This will be the best team that K-State has faced all season. With all of the other BCS games looking like real snoozers, this could very easily end up being one of the best bowls of the bowl season.

Controlling tempo, getting off the field key for Cats in Fiesta Bowl

The K-State Wildcats and Oregon Ducks have been on a collision course for the past few weeks. K-State and Oregon, once Nos. 1 and 2 in the BCS polls and expected to be a lock for the national championship game, both suffered upset losses on Nov. 17 that ended their title dreams. However, both teams bounced back in their next game, Oregon wrapping up an 11-1 year with a sound beating of arch-rival Oregon State and K-State winning their third Big 12 Conference championship at home against Texas. 

Oregon’s fast-paced offense was a force to be reckoned with this season, averaging over 50 points a game and scoring 85 touchdowns, the best in the NCAA. The Ducks cruised to a 10-0 start without so much as a challenge, steamrolling opponents by an average score of 54.8 to 22.3. With the exception of their 17-14 overtime loss to Stanford, the Ducks were never held to below 40 points. 

K-State also jumped out to a 10-0 start with the defense leading the way, allowing just 17.7 points per game before traveling to Waco, Texas to take on the Baylor Bears. Baylor’s NCAA fifth-ranked offense, similar to Oregon’s fast-paced spread game, smacked the Wildcats in the mouth, plastering them for 52 points and eliminating them from national championship contention. 

The Wildcats’ defense will have their work cut out for them again on Jan. 3 in Glendale, Ariz. K-State tended to struggle against offenses that kept the game moving at a fast pace, so it will be key for the Cats to slow the game down. Part of this responsibility will fall on senior quarterback Collin Klein and the offense to move the chains and hold on to the ball. It will also be key for senior defensive ends Meshak Williams and Adam Davis to get in the backfield and disrupt plays. K-State’s defense struggled getting off the field on third down during the regular season, with offenses picking up first downs just over 40 percent of the time. Oregon’s offense, however, ranked 21st in the nation in third-down conversions at 47.25 percent. The longer the Ducks’ offense is standing on the sidelines, the better for K-State.

One weakness in Oregon’s offense is its tendency for turnovers. The Ducks lost the ball 19 times in the regular season, compared to K-State’s 10 loses. Senior defensive backs Allen Chapman and Nigel Malone both have five interceptions on the season (as does junior safety Ty Zimmerman, who has missed the past three games with an ankle injury and is questionable for the Fiesta Bowl), and baiting Oregon’s redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota into making mistakes will be important. K-State’s 31-10 ratio of turnovers caused versus turnovers lost is the best margin in the NCAA. 

In order to slow the Ducks down, the Wildcats will have to fix the problems they encountered in Waco and attempt to mimic what the Stanford Cardinals did to hold Oregon to 14 points. K-State’s defense will likely have to continue without key contributors Zimmerman and junior linebacker Tre Walker, so the Wildcats can’t let the Ducks’ key running backs run wild. Given the chance, senior Kenjon Barner and sophomore De’Anthony Thomas could outplay K-State like Baylor’s sophomore running back Lache Seastrunk, who finished with 185 of his team’s 342 rushing yards and a touchdown.

K-State couldn’t get off the field on third down against Baylor (10-15), while Stanford allowed Oregon just four third down conversions in 17 attempts. K-State didn’t lose the time of possession battle in Waco, but allowing the Ducks to have the ball for anywhere near half the game (Baylor had the ball for 29:42) is a recipe for disaster. Oregon only had the ball for 22:55 against Stanford, compared to the 28:49 the Ducks averaged in their 11 wins.

If K-State can keep the game at a manageable pace, create turnovers, prevent big plays and keep the Ducks’ offense watching from the bench for as long as possible, it will open the door for Klein and Co. to go to work on Oregon’s vulnerable defense and put the Cats in a great position to win the Fiesta Bowl.