Can K-State run it to victory, or will it take a more balanced attack this week? Missouri's coaches are asking the question, as are those on the Wildcat sideline. Saturday at 11:30 a.m., it will be 7-2 and No. 20 ranked Missouri trying to break a two-game losing skid against 6-3 K-State.
Run it, or pass it; one quarterback or two? Missouri's defensive coaching staff must be scratching their heads this week in preparation for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. kickoff against Kansas State.
Consider these facts against the Longhorns in last week's K-State victory:
• Of the first 44 K-State offensive snaps, only three individuals had touched the ball – center Wade Weibert, quarterback Collin Klein, and running back Daniel Thomas.
• Not until inside the two-minute mark of the third quarter … roughly 43 minutes of clock time into the game … did William Powell get a carry to end the run of Weibert, to Klein, to Thomas domination.
• At the end of the game, K-State had snapped the ball 54 times. Of those, 25 were runs by Klein, 18 were runs by Thomas, and two were Klein to Thomas passes.
• At the end of the game, Klein and Thomas had accounted for 242 – 233 rushing and 9 passing – of K-State's game total of 270 yards.
• At the end of the game, K-State had attempted a school record for fewest passes attempted with four (since records started being kept in 1968), and had tied the single game record for fewest completions in a game with two.
The nine passing yards were the fewest in a game since the ‘Cats hurled it for a negative-three yards against what was then known as Oklahoma A&M in 1955.
"I wouldn't have believed it," Klein admitted of defeating the Longhorns by 25 points with just nine passing yards. Flashing a smile, Thomas admitted, "I'm not sure if we could get away with nine passing yards again, but it got us a win."
Fullback Braden Wilson added, "It was crazy the way it turned out. I didn't expect to run the way we did, but it was working for us."
The 127 rushing yards for a K-State quarterback getting his first career start was a school record. Yes, that means more yards than Ell Roberson rushed for against USC in 2001 (119 yards), and even more than Michael Bishop had against Northern Illinois in 1997 (98 yards).
Not bad for the 6-foot-5, 233-pound sophomore from Loveland, Colo., whose career rushing numbers had been 16 carries for 87 yards.
"Collin is a great runner and teams have to respect that," said Thomas. "Texas did not know what to expect with Collin because they probably did not see a lot of film on him. Collin opens things up for me, and for everybody else, because he is such a threat to run the ball." Perhaps that was Thomas casting his vote for starting quarterback.
And while Klein was asked to throw the ball four times, and admits that only two or three other passes were called when he opted to tuck it and run, Thomas says, "He's a good thrower. It was just that this was his first start and we didn't want to start throwing it around. But he's a great thrower."
Snyder was another saying that the strength of Klein's arm had nothing to do with asking his QB to throw it only four times against the Longhorns.
"He has been on the field before and has thrown since he has been a quarterback for us," said Snyder. "If you are alluding to that we did not throw it because we did not think that he could throw it, that is not the situation at all."
ON THE TIGERS:
Mizzou's been a middle of the road team on offense ranking seventh and sixth, respectively, in rushing (152 yards per game) and passing (255) in the Big 12 Conference.
In addition, the Tigers have had trouble punching it into the end zone as their 30.8 scoring average ranks only eighth in the league. Still, Snyder is impressed with MU quarterback Blaine Gabbert, despite his quarterback efficiency rating that ranks 10th in the league.
"I like his toughness. What I don't like is that he's awfully good," said Snyder. "He throws the ball well, has a good arm, is a good scrambler, and they can run the option and quarterback draws with him. He does everything that he does with a high degree of toughness."
MU has made its living on defense as it leads the league with a scoring defense of 16.3 points per game. That includes a defense that leads the league in sacks (2.89 per game), ranks third in tackles for a loss (7.0) and ranks third in interceptions (12).
"They're long, they have good height and they're athletic," Snyder said of the MU defense. "They can go with four defensive ends in the game and they're a fast football team across the board."
KEY TO THE GAME:
Like last week, scoring early could be pivotal.
In its nine collective first quarters, MU has out-pointed its opponents 77-44. With the Wildcats, it's only a 37-28 margin.
AMONG THE MISSING:
Don't expect to see Alex Hrebec (linebacker, arm injury) in action. On the questionable list are Ryan Doerr (punter), plus William Powell, the nation's leading kick returner. Both had undisclosed injuries in the Texas game last week.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
• QB COLLIN KLEIN (No. 7) will be the likely starter after leading the ‘Cats to victory over Texas by rushing for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
• DE PRIZELL BROWN (No. 46) moved out to defensive end from his defensive tackle position with that likely being his permanent home.
• LB TRE WALKER (No. 50) is getting more and more snaps as a true-freshman at linebacker . His role will likely be beefed up with leading tackler Alex Hrebec likely out with an arm injury.
• QB BLAINE GABBERT (No. 11) has completed 62 percent of his passes for 244 yards per game. He has passed for 12 TDs to only four interceptions.
• TE MICHAEL EGNEW (No. 82) and T.J. MOE (No. 28) have caught 66 and 65 passes, respectively, and have combined for seven touchdowns. Egnew has caught more passes than any other tight end in the nation.
• LB ZAVIAR GOODEN (No. 25) has secured 59 tackles with three sacks and three more for losses. He also has two interceptions, four passes broken up and two fumble recoveries.
BY THE NUMBERS: KSU MU
Scoring Offense 32.2 30.8
Scoring Defense 24.3 16.3
Rushing Offense 201 152
Rushing Defense 219 147
Passing Offense 161 255
Passing Defense 217 220
Total Offense 362 408
Fumbles/Lost 14-5 15-8
Penalties/Yd. Avg. 44-38 54-55