K-State has room to improve with defense, running game before Louisville

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    It is usually hard to find many negatives when a team wins 69-10.
    K-State dominated the game on the scoreboard and in every statistical category, but the Wildcats had their fair share of struggles throughout the game.
    Coach Ron Prince wanted to see improvement from his defense, but he said he saw more of the same struggles.
    “Pretty clearly, our tackling on defense has to improve,” Prince said. “It didn’t get any better. We need a huge step up in that area.”
    Montana State running back Demetrius Crawford ran for 97 yards on 17 carries, an average of 5.3 yards per carry. Crawford’s biggest run of the day came on a 22-yard scamper in which the Wildcat defense missed five open-field tackles.
    Senior defensive end Ian Campbell said he saw some improvement in the defense, but that he witnessed some of the same problems from the North Texas game.
    “Tackling is the biggest concern,” he said. “Guys need to take care of their business as far as the tackling goes. It’s been addressed — they just need to take it out on the field.”
    Though tackling was a concern for Prince, the Wildcat running game might have been a bigger issue.
    Running backs Keithen Valentine and Logan Dold struggled to find holes between blockers all night. They frequently had to bounce runs to the outside because of the lack of interior blocking.
    “We didn’t run the ball very effectively,” Prince said. “We aren’t running the football the way I would like. I had a higher expectation for how we were going to block them tonight, and I am not pleased with it.”
    Valentine said both the offensive line and the running backs need to improve before they play tougher competition.
    “It was a combination of both the running backs not hitting the landmark or people getting left free,” he said. “We need to work better at it and get it right.”
    The Wildcats ran for 177 yards in the game, an average of 4.1 yards per carry. Take away the trick play to Deon Murphy on an option reverse that went for 44 yards, and the number drops to 3.1 yards per carry.
    The schedule gets significantly tougher now as K-State heads for Louisville. The team will run into better athletes, who could make the Wildcats suffer the consequences if they continue to miss tackles.
    The run-blocking also will be key to keep Freeman safe and open up the passing game. If the Wildcat offense is going to succeed, it must have a little more balance — a point Prince said he will address before the Louisville game.
     “We are happy to be 2-0,” Prince said, “but it was not a great performance.”

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