The five keys

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    There’s something about week one of college football. Every team is undefeated and full of optimism and high expectations. Every question is easy to answer, and every coach knows just how to answer it.
    Last year’s shoddy defense? It’s in the past, and the team is moving forward. 
    That inexperienced position player? Well, he’s looked great in fall camp, and we’re expecting a lot out of him.
    K-State faces several questions of its own heading into 2008.

1. Stop the run
North Texas might run a pass-happy offense, but effective offenses must have at least an efficient running game to succeed. In 2007, Micah Mosley averaged about five yards per carry for the Mean Green. They might not run the ball often, but when they do, it’s usually effective. If K-State can contain Mosley and force North Texas to ditch the running game, the Wildcats can focus on the potent Mean Green passing attack.

2. New dynamic duo
Since the suspension of running back Leon Patton, K-State has turned to Keithen Valentine, a former junior college walk-on, and true freshman Logan Dold, who was originally recruited as a safety. The two will be expected to replace Patton and James Johnson, who rushed for more 1,000 yards in 2007. North Texas allowed about 230 rushing yards a game last season. If Valentine and Dold can’t rush against this defense, then K-State should worry about its 2008 running game.

3. Debunk defensive dilemmas
Several of K-State’s defensive starters are either coming off injuries, switching positions or have yet to establish themselves as solid starters. Chris Carney is the only one who is not changing positions and started consistently toward the end of 2007. The Wildcats will need several players to quickly figure things out and slow down the dangerous North Texas passing attack.

4. Make a Lamark
Talented sophomore Lamark Brown had a rough 2007, finishing the season with only three catches. The Wildcats lost All-America wide receiver Jordy Nelson and his 1,606 receiving yards. Brown will see a lot more passes coming his way this season with Nelson gone. If he can cut down on the dropped balls, look for him to have a big 2008.

5. End it quickly
The Mean Green match up favorably with K-State. The Wildcats, who gave up 198 points over the last four games of 2007, will have to find a way to stop the deadly North Texas passing attack. After finishing last season with four straight losses, the Wildcats are hungry for a win. Starting the season with a close victory against a lowly Sun Belt team will not help their confidence.

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