As is our usual game week tradition we bring you a Q&A with Oklahoma's opponent. Jumping aboard the Machine today is TB from SBN's Bring On The Cats. We're certainly talking football but with the West Virginia news breaking this week we had to toss out at least one basketball question.
CCM: From a person on the outside looking in it appears that the KSU offensive attack is simple but effective. Tell us a bit about the offensive philosophy and point out some of the key play makers.
BOTC: There's nothing flashy about it, but if you watch them every game you notice little changes made to take advantage of matchups. Some weeks we run a lot of two-tight-end sets, sometimes almost none. Sometimes we run a lot of play action off the zone read, sometimes almost none. But overall, there's not much mystery to it. K-State is going to run the ball two-thirds of the time, most of it zone read variations with some option and a little between-the-tackles stuff mixed in. They'll wait until they lull you to sleep and try to hit a play-action pass over the top. Most of all, they want to make sure they don't turn the ball over and that they win the time-of-possession battle.
CCM: Defensively the Wildcats are stingy, especially against the run. What key factors have led to the resurgence of the KSU defense?
BOTC: Player improvement has played the biggest role. Arthur Brown has been a huge upgrade at middle linebacker, and Tre Walker has improved a lot from last season. Overall, the defense is much faster than it was last season. They're still prone to mistakes and missed assignments, but the increase in speed allows them to get away with some mistakes. The unit's tackling fundamentals are also much improved from last season.
CCM: Do you feel that the Wildcat offense has to play in such a way that they need to match the Sooner offense blow for blow or do you trust the K-State defense to limit Oklahoma enough that KSU can run their normal offense?
BOTC: I trust that K-State's defense will slow OU's offense down at least somewhat. In games against Missouri, Baylor and KU, K-State held those three schools an average of about 175 yards below their per-game average prior to that game. Even when the defense has given up bigger yardage, such as the Texas Tech game, turnovers and special teams plays kept K-State in it. But I'm not confident that will always be the case. If OU moves the ball well against the Wildcats, we'll be praying for mistakes from Landry Jones or miscues for OU on special teams.
CCM: The Ron Prince era came to a bitter end with the return of Bill Snyder. What were the sentiments of Snyder's return and does that differ in the way fans feel now?
BOTC: For me, there's a big difference between how I felt at the time and how I feel now. It's not that I thought the game had passed Snyder by, it was more that I didn't think the situation was right for him to step into. Well, that and I thought Gary Patterson was going to be our next coach and the rug was yanked out from under me.
At the time, I didn't think he could bring in a good group of assistants, and I didn't think he'd be willing to show underperforming assistants the door given his loyalty. The jury is still out on whether either of these will really happen, and I haven't even mentioned recruiting yet, but whatever he's doing is working. Even the doubters are on board now.
CCM: Off topic but Frank Martin seemed to be excited about the possibility of West Virgina joining the Big 12. How do KSU fans feel about possibly having Bob Huggins back in the conference for basketball?
BOTC: I love it. I'm over any ill feelings I may have had for Huggins when he left, because ending up with Martin has worked out very well for K-State. Martin and Huggins are great friends, and I know they'll be excited to play each other. Plus, as a fan it should be great entertainment. You have the angriest fans in America, and the two angriest coaches in America, possibly all in one building in Manhattan? Yeah, sign me up.
CCM: Prediction time: Tell us how its all going to go down Saturday afternoon and leave us a score prediction.
BOTC: Saturday shapes up as a bit of a throwback, I think. Snyder has turned back the clock at K-State, and for the first time since 2003, Wildcat fans come into this game believing K-State has a legitimate chance against the Sooners. Interesting K-State/Oklahoma games, which had been a staple after the 1998 season, were an unfortunate casualty of the Ron Prince Era. But with Stoops still on the sideline for Oklahoma and Snyder getting K-State ready to play again, this matchup is going to bring back memories of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s for the fans. I think it's going to be a tough, hard-hitting, back-and-forth game all afternoon. But in the fourth quarter, I expect Oklahoma will get a late field goal and hightail it back to Norman with a 34-31 victory.