5 keys to victory


1. Keep special teams specialK-State’s special teams scored six touchdowns last season and averaged 27.1 yards per kick return and 13 yards per punt return. However, those numbers were helped along by former return specialist Yamon Figurs, who has moved on to the NFL. If his replacement, junior Deon Murphy, provides a spark against Auburn, the Wildcats’ offense will be blowing him kisses on the sideline.

2. Send Groves to the graveAuburn’s defense features senior standout Quentin Groves, an All-SEC First Team selection, who coach Ron Prince compared to NFL players like Julius Peppers and Mario Williams. If K-State’s offensive line is unable to keep the 6-foot-3, 254-pounder away from quarterback Josh Freeman, the Wildcats’ offense might be in for a long day.

3. he’s the (Ross)manAfter earning the job as K-State’s starting kicker, Brooks Rossman must now prove he’s a worthy selection. What better time than the season opener? If Auburn’s stingy defense keeps the Wildcats away from the goal line, Rossman might be called upon to convert some long field goals. Making his kicks would be a great way to show Prince appreciation for giving him the chance.

4. Feed the running backsRunning backs Leon Patton and James Johnson proved their worth in 2006, combining for 1,112 yards rushing. K-State will need the duo to keep up the production, especially against Auburn, whose defense will try to force K-State to beat them through the air. Running the ball effectively is a recipe for success on the road, something K-State found out the hard way last season.

5. Stop breaking the lawK-State tight end Rashaad Norwood has been suspended from the team because of a domestic dispute and will not make it on the field against Auburn. The Wildcats did not do much better on the field last season, committing 89 penalties for 732 yards. K-State won’t be able to overcome penalties at Jordan-Hare Stadium, one of the SEC’s most intimidating venues.