Questions to answer

Five questions to ponder heading into Baylor.

The next two weekends offer K-State the rare opportunity for a mid-season tune-up. Baylor and Iowa State share the Big 12's doormat this season, and in successive weeks, nothing could come at a better time for the Cats. Still questions abound...

1. How will K-State use their gimme-games?
The Wildcats can go in two different directions with two games against second-rate opposition. They can choose to use these games to fine tune the various problems in both the offense and defense, all in a concerted effort funneled toward a Nov. 15 showdownin Lincoln. Or, K-State can overlook the weak opponents and go into the Nebraska game rusty. It will be obvious which direction they take this Saturday against Baylor.

2. Which Ell will show up?
Roberson threw for just over 100 yards against Kansas, moving the game largely on the ground. That came after a good passing effort against Colorado and a 300 yard-plus performance against Oklahoma State. A balanced game could be the difference for K-State the remainder of the season.

3. Will Sproles get enough carries?
The 5-foot-7 junior only carried 19 times against Kansas, gaining 98 yards. He only carried 14 times against Colorado, also coming up short of the 100-yard barrier. It's not that the defense is making a concerted effort to stop him, either, as he has gained more than five yards per carry in each game. It just seems there aren't enough plays to go around.

4. Where is Bryan Hickman?
The senior linebacker from Mesquite, Texas was expected to take over some of the load from the departed Terry Pierce, but Hickman is yet to have a breakout game. According to Coach Bill Snyder, Hickman was slow moving against Kansas and even slower in practice on Monday. Hickman's ability to take some of the pressure off a young Ted Sims and an over-worked Josh Buhl will be important during the stretch run.

5. How will K-State kick off?
Snyder joked Tuesday about the myriad possibilites: a squib kick, which didn't work against Kansas, giving the Jayhawks the ball at the 45. They could kick it out of bounds, giving the ball to opposition at the 35. They could even stop scoring, and thus stop kick off, although Snyder said with a broad smile, "I haven't figured out how to come to terms with that yet." Regardless, K-State's kickoff units have been a mess, and Snyder said the only way to change that is the simplest explanation possible. "We just have to get better," he said.

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