Gundy, Cowboys looking to rebound in Manhattan

K-State wide receiver Kyle Klein attempts to break the tackle of an OSU player at the end of the second quarter of the Wildcats' game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma, Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats went on to score a touchdown and increased their lead to 29-23.

With only 19 points in its last two games, Oklahoma State is still searching for a way to rebound offensively. For K-State head coach Bill Snyder, he hopes the Cowboys’ breakout performance waits until the second Saturday of November.

“They have had some injuries that have impacted their offensive line and running back,” Snyder said. “I do not know if they feel like they have been playing as well on offense, but when I look at them they look pretty good.”

After losing 11 starters with at least 15 career starts, Oklahoma State was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in Big 12 preseason polls.

Due to a season-opening, closer-than-expected performance against Florida State, expectations for the 2014-15 Cowboys have been far from steady. They’ve ranged anywhere from a rebuilding project to a top-15 team nationally.

The team achieved the latter expectation when it rattled off five-straight wins after losing to Florida State, but all three conference wins came against the bottom three teams in Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas.

Now, after losing back-to-back games to No. 7 TCU and No. 22 West Virginia by a combined 57 points, the Cowboys will be greeted by No. 11 K-State at 7 p.m. Saturday night in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

“Essentially, if you go back a couple of weeks all the way through the schedule, you’re either playing a top-20 team or a team that’s developing and has really good players,” head coach Mike Gundy said at his local weekly press conference. “Each week is going to be a real challenge for us.”

Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer and his unit were the first to hold West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett under 300 yards this season in a 34-10 loss last Saturday, but they’ll be challenged in a new way with K-State senior quarterback Jake Waters.

As one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in the conference, he’s an animal of a different breed and Spencer said his defense understands the upcoming challenges.

“He knows where seams and alleys are and has the run-pass option about every play and the one time your eyes are wrong, he is going to get you,” Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “It’s option football. It’s just a different way to run it. Sometimes he has the ball in his hand as the runner, as opposed to the option when he is pitching it backwards. He’s running it and has the option to pitch it forward and throw the ball. It’s a big challenge for us as it has been to everybody that has played him.”

As a third-year contributor, cornerback Kevin Peterson has gained plenty of perspective as to what K-State will offer offensively. Even though a different quarterback was under center for the Wildcats two years ago, the Oklahoma State junior doesn’t expect much change from the first opportunity he had to see Snyder’s pro-style offense.

“They’re going to do the same thing they (always) do,” cornerback Kevin Peterson said. “They’re going to give the tight end the ball, and the quarterback is really smart. They’re really physical and they have a lot of speed so we’ll try to do the best we can to slow them down.”