It’s been three weeks, and we’ve gone through three losses. It started with utter shock against West Virginia, followed by humiliation against Iowa State, and finally acceptance against Oklahoma. Strangely enough though, we still find our Red Raiders favored against the Purple Wizard himself. The Wildcats have been a shell of themselves this year, and Kingsbury has a rare opportunity to get back on track after a rough stretch.
I truly don’t know what sort of team will show up Saturday, and I’m skeptical that the crowd will be there to pump up the squad. Nevertheless, we’ve got to have this one if we want to make a bowl game.
I guess we’ll see what happens!
1. D.J. Reed, a defensive player, leads the Wildcats in total yardage for the year. I'll admit, that took me by surprise. I get that all of this production is on special teams, but impressive nonetheless. Has anyone successfully limited him from affecting the outcomes of games? On paper, he looks to be your biggest game-breaker.
Jon: Well, I suppose you'd have to argue that Vanderbilt, Texas, TCU, and Oklahoma did.
But right now, yes, he's definitely the team MVP, and not just due to the kick returns. He's also a lockdown corner, and I believe he hasn't had a completed pass for a touchdown thrown to the man he's covering all season.
2. Jesse Ertz is hurt, and it unlikely to play Saturday. My understanding is that Alex Delton is super fast, and is a great runner. But, he's a very limited passer. Have you seen much improvement from him since the Texas game. How have teams limited his success?
Jon: Stacking the box and letting him throw. Delton's actually got a fine arm, and throws a good ball when he picks the right target. It's getting those progressions down that's been the issue.
3. K-State has always had some running back that's dominated the conference. I think John Hubert, Darren Sproles, Josh Scobey, and Daniel Thomas. What's the deal with this current group, and what can we expect Saturday?
Jon: For the first part of the season, the receivers couldn't hold on to the ball. Then Delton took over and there was a concerted effort to establish the quarterback run game. Now Delton's banged up too.
In other words, for some reason the running backs just haven't been getting the ball. Alex Barnes is averaging over six yards a carry, and he hasn't even hit the 600 yard mark yet.
That said, against Kansas the coaches put more of the load on Barnes. Frankly, your guess is as good as mine as to what scheme Dana Dimel will attempt to implement Saturday.
4. How long is Bill Snyder going to coach? (had to ask)
Jon: I think this is it, to be honest. This was supposed to be a huge season, with a returning starter at quarterback and a young but already experienced team. Between the faceplant this season has become and his cancer recovery, I think he's probably about done. Maybe one more year, if he thinks he'll have a quality quarterback situation in 2018 (when K-State will still return the vast majority of its starters).
5. Who do Tech fans need to keep an eye on that we're not already aware of?
Jon: Walk-on wideout Dalton Schoen has been the most reliable target for every quarterback to take snaps. If you remember Curry Sexton, he's in that mold -- with the added bonus of picking great angles after the catch. He's had multiple touchdown catches of over 70 yards.
Denzel Goolsby starts at safety; he's still a work in progress, but he's a capital-A athlete. Played all over the place offensively in high school, then made the switch to safety in spring camp. He's a legacy; he's got three cousins who all balled, including former Wildcat fullback Brian Goolsby, former Wildcats DB Jarard Milo, and current Florida tight end DeAndre Goolsby.
Everyone else who's likely to make an impact, y'all have already met.
6. What are the best matchups for KSU heading into this game?
Jon: Special teams, as usual. K-State's run defense against Tech's run offense, and -- reaching a bit here -- possibly K-State's passing offense against Tech's pass defense. Of course, that will all depend on play selection and how much stickum the receivers can find before the game.
7. Any key injuries/suspensions to track?
Jon: Ertz and Delton are pretty much it, although Barnes did take a shot against Kansas and seemed wobbly afterward. Defensive back Kendall Adams missed the Oklahoma game entirely, but was back in action last week.
8. Score Prediction?
Jon: I hate to say it, but I really don't even want to think about it. While K-State's run defense is stout, the passing defense is crippled by having two slow linebackers constantly pressed into coverage. That's the primary reason the Cats are giving up eight fewer yards per game through the air than Tech is.
Unfortunately, I think it's a horse race K-State isn't going to win with a sludgy offense. The Wildcats could hang 40 on the Red Raiders and still lose.