After a tough game down in Austin, the Cowboys look to bounce back back on their home turf in Boone Pickens Stadium. They’ll play the first game in the stadium since the passing of its namesake T. Boone Pickens against the Kansas State Wildcats. To preview this matched up Luke Thompson of Bring on the Cats helped us out.
MA:What have you see from Chris Klieman so far that you like and don’t like.
LT:What’s not to like? Kansas State is playing well, parts of practices are actually open, the team finally has a social media presence (and it’s awesome), we get to learn about injuries and hear from assistant coaches, plus the ‘Cats have finally brought their recruiting practices into the 21st century. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when some serious adversity inevitably hits, but so far Klieman is saying and doing all the right things.
On the field, I especially like the more aggressive approach from the secondary and the running back by committee while not running the quarterback into the ground is a refreshing change, and one that’s working quite well. The biggest thing I don’t like is probably the two men back on the punt return. I don’t really understand the strategy of it and obviously it hasn’t been effective with 3 fumbles in 3 games, including 2 that were lost and led to Mississippi State touchdowns.
MA:The Wildcats are off to a 3-0 start. What do you think has been the biggest contributor that success?
LT: Honestly, this might sound a little silly, but I think it’s just letting the players have some fun and making sure they’re ready to play at an elite level. Bill Snyder was an incredible coach and even in his last couple years came up with some terrific gameplans (see last year’s win over OSU) but too many players seemed unhappy with the way a lot of things were handled and although they might have been prepared tactically, they weren’t in the right mindset to be at their best every Saturday.
MA:What are you most anxious about when it comes to Saturday’s game?
This one’s easy. The Oklahoma State passing attack vs. Kansas State’s secondary. The Wildcats haven’t faced anything close to a healthy, quality quarterback, and obviously that’s going to change in a big way against Spencer Sanders. Even when Mississippi State’s QBs hit their open receivers, some of them were kind enough to drop passes. I don’t expect that to happen much and if the K-State defensive line can’t make life difficult for Sanders, it’s going to be a long day.
MA: What match-up are the most curious about?
LT: I want to see how K-State’s receivers fare against the best secondary they’ve seen this season. There’s been a lot of discussion from K-State fans about whether this group is Big 12 quality, and I think certainly we all feel better about them after three games. Dalton Schoen has obviously proven he can make plays at the Big 12 level and Malik Knowles clearly has the physical tools to succeed. But after lighting up Bowling Green for 99 yards on 5 of Skylar Thompson’s 10 completions for the day, Knowles hardly did anything vs. Mississippi State, so it’s time for him and others to step up and prove themselves.
MA: Chuba Hubbard has been a forced to be reckoned with this season, but struggled in Austin. Do you think the Wildcat defense will be able to stop his production like Texas did?
LT: I’m not sure if stop is the right word, but I get what you’re saying and certainly it was impressive that Texas held him to 3.3 yards per carry. Matching that will be extremely difficult, although hopefully it will be made a little easier by some fatigue and perhaps some restraint on the part of the OSU coaching staff after giving Hubbard an absurd 37 carries. Kansas State’s linebackers are as fast as they’ve been in quite some time, plus the defensive line is solid and will be bolstered by the return of Walter Neil Jr. and especially Wyatt Hubert. Even without them, K-State did well to hold Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill to an average of 4.6 yards per rush and his lowest total of the season, 111. However, that was without a serious passing threat or a real dual-threat quarterback so my greatest fear is the ‘Cats come out ready to stop Hubbard but then have to adjust to stop Spencer Sanders and allow Hubbard to break out in the second half.
LT: Give me Kansas State 38, Oklahoma State 34 with yet another Skylar Thompson game-winning drive in the fourth quarter.
*Editors note: I HATE that prediction so much because it seems soooo plausible.
Be sure to check out their podcast this week where they chat with The Oklahoman’s Scott Wright!