VTM: Bill Snyder is amazing. Not one fan base dislikes him, including ours. It was amazing to see him leave in the 2000s, the program declines, he comes back and it only takes him about a year to get it back on track. How long do you expect him to continue to coach?
BOTC: We have no idea. He could announce his retirement before this season ends. He could hang around until he has 200 wins, which would presumably be next season. Bill Snyder keeps his own counsel, and all the speculation in the world doesn't change that.
VTM: This year has been an interesting one for K-State. Even with the injuries and young players, Snyder's magic has seen you play within 7 points against TCU, Ok ST, and Baylor. The head scratching moments are the games against La Tech, OU and Texas. Which team shows up on Saturday?
BOTC: The answer to this one is the team the coaches prepared, to be honest. Oklahoma was a tipping point; allegedly the coaching staff had focused heavily on running the ball during practice that week and indicated to the team that was the game plan, and then came out throwing. It caused confusion, and there was some disconnect noticeable on the sidelines from observers in the front rows.
But against Baylor everything was clicking, everyone seemed to be on the same page, and that frustration was nowhere in evidence. That tells me that everyone has pulled together, which matches comments from both Snyder and the players. You can expect a focused Wildcat squad Saturday.
VTM: Bill Snyder's teams have always been under recruited players, coached up and very disciplined. What is the secret to his success?
BOTC: Snyder and his staff find players who are good athletes and good football players that nobody noticed. These guys aren't no-star or two-star players because Rivals went out, scouted them, and said "meh".
It's because Rivals hasn't seen any more of them than you or I can sitting on our butts at home. This is the secret to recruiting that nobody wants to talk about: the recruiting guys are great at identifying the five-stars and high four-stars. Below that, they're largely clueless and don't even care.
VTM: How will K-State attack Tech on offense and defense.
BOTC: Given Tech's proclivities, you can probably expect K-State to try and ram the ball down their throats. Mostly, any passing in this game will just be to keep the defense honest. On defense, K-State will try to keep Tech from running the ball, and other than that will probably expend most of their energy on keeping Jakeem Grant in check.
VTM: Give us a few players to keep an eye on?
BOTC: There are no game-changing talents on offense. It's just a unit that quietly goes out and scores 20-30 points. QB Joe Hubener is a threat on the ground and a liability in the air. RB Charles Jones is having a mild breakout in his senior season, and will probably have a big day Saturday because Tech's run defense is so sketchy. WR Kody Cook is Hubener's best target, but he's a possession guy rather than a deep threat. If Cook catches a screen, he might be turning to throw himself.
On defense, the Wildcats are missing two all-Big 12 defensive backs in Dante Barnett and Danzel McDaniel, and that's obviously a problem. The defensive line, led by Travis Britz and Will Geary, is tremendous. Elijah Lee anchors a solid linebacking corps. The secondary is a dumpster fire, but keep an eye on freshman CB Duke Shelley and S Donnie Starks. Shelley was supposed to redshirt, but was forced into action against TCU, covering Colby Listenbee. He was so effective that Trevone Boykin never threw a pass in Listenbee's direction. He got burned a couple of times against Oklahoma and Baylor, but he's been very solid. Starks has quietly developed into a playmaker as well.
VTM: Keys to the game for K-State.
BOTC: Offense: controlling the line of scrimmage and feeding on Tech's run defense issues. Defense: Somehow keeping Tech from just beating them deep over and over again and forcing Tech into at least trying to run the ball.
VTM: What worries you about Tech?
BOTC: Jakeem Grant, mostly. The passing game in general, but if Grant can be held in check Tech's not quite as dangerous as they otherwise appear. But make no mistake, even if Tech rushes for zero yards it's entirely possible they can put up 50 points. K-State's secondary is that vulnerable.
BOTC: Ultimately, I don't think K-State can stop Tech from scoring quickly, and I don't think Tech can stop K-State from just grinding clock on the ground. That means it's going to come down to mistakes, and I think Tech is probably more prone to them than K-State, although the Wildcats have been horrific this year in the creating turnovers department. Should be a close game, and I'll go 35-33 K-State.