Five questions to be answered Saturday

Here are the five key questions that need to be addressed Saturday at Kansas. Highlighting the list this week is the passing game. Will K-State continue to distribute the ball across the field? Another aspect that is being questioned is Darren Sproles' recent fumbles and how more of the same could have a devastating impact Saturday.

Saturday's game at Kansas might prove to be the most competitive Sunflower Showdown Kansas State has been involved in for many years.

After all, K-State and KU enters the game after close losses. But the Jayhawks are showing considerable improvement from a year ago, while the Wildcats are struggling to maintain a lot of the standards K-State fans have been spoiled with the last six years.

For K-State, the season appears to still be a work in progress. Last week, the improvement came in the passing game, while ironically, the running game suffered—mainly due to turnovers.

With that in mind, here are the five questions that hope to be answered Saturday.


(1)   Will Dylan Meier continue to take positive steps in the passing game?

Against Texas A&M, the sophomore quarterback had career highs in completions, attempts, and yards. In the fourth quarter especially, Meier looked strong and capable of orchestrating a comeback. Though the comeback wasn't completed, Meier enjoyed his best game yet as a starting quarterback. The key now is to keep it going, on the road again, in what could be considered a must-win game.

(2)   Darren Sproles fumble?

It wasn't a performance K-State fans have come to expect from their favorite running back ever. Sproles ran 20 times for just 61 yards and fumbled three times. It's becoming a trend. Nobody has the answer for why Darren has all-of-a-sudden developed a case of butterfingers, but as far as head coach Bill Snyder is concerned, he's staying the course with the pint-sized back. Sproles will run the ball. Sproles will return kickoffs. And Sproles will return punts. Why?

It's because of what he has given this program—the countless games he's taken on his shoulders and the many defenses he's embarrassed. That's the way it should be.

But the mistakes have to end. KU's defense is just fast enough and athletic enough to take advantage of his mistakes. Sproles fumble problems could in fact be the deciding factor for the Cats this week.

(3)   Defense or defenseless?

K-State's defense has been the single most frustrating facet of this team. Once known for being terribly aggressive and fast to the ball, the 2004 Wildcats' defense looks more like they have refrigerators strapped to their backs. K-State simply has to be more aggressive and attack the line of scrimmage and the ball. Even as recently as last week K-State seemed to back-pedal and wait for the play to come to them. Against KU, doing that will kill them.

The Jayhawks have just good enough of a running game to stick it to a sluggish front seven. This will be a huge key in stopping the Hawks.

(4)   Will the receivers continue what they started last week?

Yamon Figurs and Jermaine Moreira looked great last week, pulling in five receptions each. Tony Madison contributed three of his own. They got open and made the plays, difficult plays nonetheless.

KU's defense is fast and able to disrupt a passing game. Just ask Texas Tech. The Red Raiders came into their game against the Hawks averaging nearly 60 points a game, but managed just 31 at Lawrence.

(5)   Kicking game be counted on?

On the road, with a great return team on the other side of the field, K-State's ability to punt the ball out of its territory will be important again. Freshman punter Tim Reyer looked pretty good against A&M in a hostile environment and junior Jesse Martinez came in and ran the fake punt to perfection. Consistency is something KSU so desperately needs back there. The punting game can win games and lose games. K-State lost to Fresno State because of the punting game, something that the Cats can't afford to have happen again.

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