Running Game Rolls behind Johnson

The running game took a huge step forward with James Johnson toting the rock for the Cats in the win over San Jose State. Thought to be a work in progress, the ground game took huge steps forward with progress on the O-Line. Injuries will force new faces into the line-up this week.....find out who they are.....Read On!

The numbers weren't huge, and it was against San Jose State, but Saturday night in a 34-14 victory over the Spartans, Kansas State a glimpse of a running attack.

The Wildcats totaled 153 yards, with 111 of those came from James Johnson on 15 carries. During the 15-game Ron Prince era, it marked the fifth highest productive team running game, and for Johnson, it marked his third game of at least 100 yards.

"Give my line the credit," said the 5-foot-11, 200-pound senior running back. "They pushed off and gave me holes to run through." After a 27 rushing yard team output a week earlier at Auburn, where Johnson netted just 14 yards on seven carries, K-State looked to show proof it could run the ball in the second half, and did.

With just 36 yards to show for their 10 first-half carries, K-State went ground on eight of its first 11 plays of the second half for 53 yards, before adding another 64 yards in the fourth quarter.

"We like to think that we're a well-conditioned team the entire game, wearing people down and then coming out strong in the second half and fourth quarter by stepping on the gas and controlling the clock," offensive tackle Nick Stringer said.

And of the 27 rushing plays, of which 17 came in the second half, Stringer added, "It was nice to not have the defense teeing off on us with a pass rush on every play. That's what happens when we are so one-dimensional. It just takes so much pressure off Josh and our receivers when we can open up holes up front for our backs." While Johnson got 15 snaps, coach Ron Prince was disappointed that Leon Patton had just six touchings.

I wanted Leon to get as many as James got," Prince said. "But we did run the ball effectively, and I'm happy for that. The down and distance just didn't allow us to run it like we wanted."

The question now is can K-State run against the teams it has to run against. The answer was "no" against Auburn, looming in the weeks to come are dates with Texas and its Big 12 cousins. Last year K-State ranked ninth in the Big 12 in running the football averaging just 115 yards per game. The Wildcats' 4.0 yards per carry was only better than Iowa State (3.0) and Baylor (2.1).

And against the better teams, K-State was anemic by land netting just 31 yards against Rutgers, 23 versus Texas and 22 against Nebraska and 108 against Louisville.

One after another, K-State defenders are falling by the wayside. First, Joshua Moore was sidelined for academic reasons with his return in limbo.

Saturday, cornerback Bryan Baldwin did not suit up for the game with an unspecified injury, and during the course of the game, outside linebacker Antwon Moore looked to have sustained a serious injury to his left knee, and later, cornerback Ray Cheatham left the game with an undisclosed injury.

Prince declined to comment on the seriousness of any of the injuries.

Prince said that K-State entered the season with six cornerbacks, and indicated that Justin McKinney, Byron Garvin and Otis Johnson will now be taking the majority of the snaps. From the San Jose State game, Prince did single out the play of Chris Carney at safety and John Houlik at linebacker.

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