Five key questions that face the Cats this week

With one victory in the books after last week's low scoring affair against Western Kentucky, K-State looks now at Fresno State. Here are five questions that need to be addressed as the Wildcats try to move to 2-0 on the season.

(1) Quarterback, quarterback, and quarterback… again?

For the second week in a row, Kansas State's success will hinge on how sophomore Dylan Meier does. Against Western Kentucky Meier was okay. That's it though. He didn't make any glaring mistakes, completed more than half of his passes, and gave some needed balance to an offensive unit that is still searching for its identity.

However, it will be a much different story against Fresno State. The Bulldogs are not the Hilltoppers. Just ask Washington, who surrendered not one, not two, but three defensive touchdowns to Fresno State's speedy defense. Fresno State, like Marshall of a year ago, will come into this game with no fear and fully believing that it can defeat the Wildcats on their turf—just like they did last week against the Huskies in Washington.

Meier will have to do what he did last week—not lose the game. He doesn't have to be Ell Roberson to win the game. All this inexperienced quarterback needs to do is not screw up. He's part of a machine, an offensive unit with many talented stars and capable players. As long he realizes that and lets others make plays too, he should be just fine

 

(2) Linebackers?

K-State has a real problem at linebacker right now. Marvin Simmons was supposed to start last week, but he didn't. He didn't even breathe one play. Ted Sims is still hurt and isn't projected to play this week either.

Instead, the defensive unit marched out Sean Lowe and Maurice Thurmond. That's okay, but that's not Simmons and Sims. The only real proven linebacker, who was actually moved from the outside to the middle, is Matt Butler. Its Butler's job, as long as Sims is hurt, to man the middle and control that defense.

As for Simmons, nobody knows. He's not in the good graces of the coaching staff at the moment, but might see some snaps this weekend. It's time for the potential everyone has talked about with Simmons to actually show up and do something. Until K-State gets the trio it wants out there, the linebacker position can be a real liability—especially while still trying to find the right pieces to replace Josh Buhl and Bryan Hickman.

Against Fresno State, they'll have to be top-notch. The Bulldogs have a capable offense that can put up points. Its running game is designed to keep teams off balance. Its passing game thrives off the run and can light up defenses when they're clicking.

 

(3) Will Darren Sproles have to carry the ball 42 times again?

I sure hope Sproles doesn't have to run the ball as many times as he did against Western Kentucky. There are many more games ahead and I'd hope there's a little gas in the tank when Oklahoma and Nebraska comes to Manhattan. K-State needs to be able to spell him throughout the game by using more of Thomas Clayton and Donnie Anders.

A lot of the pressure can be taken off of Sproles by what Meier is able to do in the passing game. With a balanced attack, Sproles won't have to be relied on to literally carry K-State's offense on his back. Though I like to see Sproles get the carries too, remember he is always one play from not playing the rest of the season and I'd hate for that to happen against a Western Kentucky, Fresno State, or a Louisiana Lafayette. Maybe it's just me, but perhaps Clayton and Anders are able to carry the load as well.

 

(4) Offensive line, maybe?

Though they put together a great game against WKU, they'll have to do it again and maybe even better this weekend. I hate to even address the offensive line as an area of question after the performance last week, especially by first-time starters Malcolm Wooldridge and Michael Weiner, but I don't want them getting comfortable on the mountain top just yet. That was one game and they'll see a much more aggressive, speedy defensive front line this week in Fresno State. Or as K-State coach Bill Snyder has put it, they shouldn't hit the wall this week. There is always room for improvement and now is the time to do it.

 

(5) Kicking game?

There is no room for mistakes in the kicking game this week. Punter Jesse Martinez can change this game with some good punts, especially in holding a high-octane offense on its own side of the field.

The same goes for Joe Rheem. He cannot miss any kicks. Every single scoring opportunity is most important for K-State. After all, the Cats had the offensive yards last week, but not many points. If that keep-away, dominate the clock, but not score many points style is used again, Rheem will have to be perfect in his scoring opportunities. He's come a long way since his early days of missing extra points and now as a senior, he'll have to step it up even more. Other than Sproles, Rheem's leg could be one heck of an offensive threat this season.


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