The Kansas State Wildcats finished up their non-conference schedule last weekend, trouncing UMass by the score 37-7 and moving to 2-1 on the young season. Last week my spotlight against UMass was the secondary. The matchup was in favor of the Cats, as Kip Daily, a senior cornerback, was Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against UMass. Daily intercepted 2 passes and returned one 38 yards for a TD. Overall, the Wildcats held the Minutemen to an incredible 5.8 yards per pass completed.
With the non-con schedule done, the schedule now moves to the familiar foes of the Big 12. The Wildcats travel down to Austin for their first away game of the year against the Longhorns, a team Kansas State has owned, winning 5 straight games against UT. The Longhorns have already had a whirlwind season. After blowing out New Mexico State in Week 1 by the score of 56-7, the wheels have fallen off the Longhorn defense. What was originally thought of as one of the strengths of the team, the Longhorns gave up an astonishing 550 yards on the ground against BYU in Week 2. The Longhorns lost 40-21 in Utah, falling to 1-1. Coach Mack Brown then proceeded to fire defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after the loss, replacing him with Greg Robinson. The following week, the Longhorns hosted the Ole Miss Rebels. While the Horns led 23-17 at the half, the bottom fell out as the Rebels scored 20 unanswered second half points to move the Horns to 1-2. Like they say, everything is bigger in Texas, including the lynch mob currently for Head Coach Mack Brown.
Heading into the matchup with Texas, I really want to spotlight the most talked about position the Cats have had all year, the Quarterback. This isn’t a view of who should play or percentage of snaps each should take. I think we all understand now this season, both quarterbacks will play. With Texas’s current defensive struggles, I think Jake Waters and Daniel Sams can control this game. Throughout the argument over which should start/play we have all thought one thing, Water throws, Sams runs. Last week we saw that Jake Waters can also run. Waters, against an UMass defense that has given up similar yardage on the ground as Texas, collected 74 yards rushing. Sams, who has been a sparkplug running the ball each of the first three weeks, has only completed 3 of 4 passes for 39 yards so far. But has 157 yards already rushing for a 7.5 average, and has been the team’s most consistent running threat. I believe Snyder hasn’t had Sams throw much, saving it for Big 12 play when everyone will expect a run from Sams, leaving a free receiver down the sideline, or an open tight end in the middle of the field. With an improved run game (John Hubert ran for over 118 yard last week, his first 100 game of the season) the threat of run from both QB’s should also free up some coverage for our receivers, allowing Jake Waters and maybe Daniel Sams to collect yardage through the air. Waters must shake the interception bug out of his system, playing a more mistake free game (5 interceptions in 3 games). Waters has thrown for 673 yards in his first three games as a Wildcat, showing his ability to get the ball to his receivers.
This game is a game I usually would pick K-State in, although I didn’t in my season preview. As I feel more confident the Wildcats can win this game then before, I wonder what Texas team will show up. Texas has their backs up against a wall; will they fight their way out of it back to respectability this season? Or will they crumble under the intense pressure of a storied program failing their fan base currently? Texas is a hard case to crack. But the Wildcats do have one pure advantage, Bill Snyder. Coach Snyder is 5-2 against Mack Brown. Wildcat fans are used to chanting “We Own Texas” after a win against UT, maybe the new chart should be “Snyder Owns Brown.” Saturday we shall see.