Freeman, offense look sharp in season-opening rout


With members of the 1998 football team — one of the best Wildcat squads ever — present in the stands, a sense of déjà vu came over many of the fans in Snyder Family Stadium as K-State rolled over North Texas Saturday, 45-6.
    The Wildcats (1-0) immediately made a statement defensively by forcing the Mean Green to punt on their first drive. After a 30-yard punt return by Deon Murphy, the stage was set for a quick strike, and junior running back Keithen Valentine scored from four yards out on the first carry of his Wildcat career.
    “I can’t explain it; it was just exciting,” Valentine said. “I can’t even describe it — it just felt so good.”
    Valentine, however, did fumble on his second run, but ended the game with a team-high 65 yards rushing on 13 carries. True-freshman tailback Logan Dold added nine carries for 53 yards, becoming the first true-freshman running back in K-State history to appear in a season opener.
    “Anytime a running back fumbles, that is not very good,” Prince said. “We have not had a lot of that, so we will have to address it.”
    “Anytime you can have two kids run the ball, do a pretty good job and have a good average, you have to feel very positive,” he said.
    Junior quarterback Josh Freeman looked poised and confident, going 18-of-24 for 232 yards and three touchdowns to pass Chad May and Carl Straw for second on K-State’s all-time passing list with 5,365 yards. He also added two touchdowns on the ground, tying his career high from last year against Baylor with five total touchdowns.
    “Today we were just trying to come out and play a solid game offensively, and I felt like we did that,” Freeman said. “My teammates put me in a great position to be successful, and when they do that, it’s my duty to get it done for them.”
    North Texas (0-1) couldn’t find an offensive rhythm all day, gaining only 205 yards of total offense. Sophomore quarterback Giovanni Vizza had the worst yardage game of his career, completing 16-of-29 for only 100 yards.
    “I feel like we did pretty decent,” senior defensive end Ian Campbell said. “I’m very pleased with how the guys played, very happy with the effort, and we got the win.”
    It was the Wildcats’ first win since last season against Baylor on Oct. 27, 2007. Prince emphasized the importance of winning the game at hand — a message the players took to heart on Saturday.
    “This is a new year, and our team came to play,” Freeman said. “I wish [North Texas] the best of luck with the rest of their season, but our boys came to play today.”