Cat Offense "Creating Space and Match-ups"

The Cats offense continues to put up points using the players and tools available to create mismatches for the defense. With an off-week to install new plays and wrinkles, Coach Prince says this Wildcat Offense is predicated on looking for good match-ups and creating space in the passing game underneath. Read More.....

By the numbers, an outsider might think that Kansas State is throwing the ball down the field this season.

The Wildcats totaled 325 throwing yards in Saturday's 61-10 victory over Missouri State, and before that K-State had 272 air yards against San Jose State and 268 against Auburn. But instead of the deep ball, the meaningful statistic has been yards after the catch on dink and dump passes that travel no more than 10 yards in the air.

"Right now the whole secret to college football is creating space and bad match-ups," Prince said. "What we're trying to do is isolate defenders in open space and challenging them to make a one-on-one tackle. That's really the name of the game today ... putting defenders in a tough spot. It's no longer a three yards and a cloud of dust game."

Prince went on to compare today's passing game to a trend in basketball where a team clears out a side for its super-star, who takes is man to the basket. "With three, four and five wide receivers being used today, it stretches the defense thin."

In the last two games, Josh Freeman has completed 51 passes at a 68 percent completion rate.

"He's gotten better. He's improving," Prince said. "He has a very positive future. He can make all the throws."

While Freeman has had his favorite targets with Jordy Nelson (30 catches) and Deon Murphy (15), also nabbing passes have been Daniel Gonzalez (5), Cedric Wilson (1), Ernie Pierce (2) and Lamark Brown (1) as wide receivers, James Johnson (14) and Leon Patton (3) as running backs, plus Jeron Mastrud (9) and Mike Pooschke (7) as tight ends.

A nice complementing feature to the offense in the last two games has been Johnson's rushing for 225 yards and four touchdowns against San Jose State and Missouri State.

"He's given us the ability and strength to pick up blitzes, and we can swing the ball out of the backfield to him and get first downs," Prince said. "We've lined him up in a variety of places and he has a lot of confidence in running the football. I'm really proud of him. We're learning on him."

What the Wildcats now need is to demonstrate the ability to lean on Johnson, and the running game, against Big 12 caliber competition.

Against Auburn in the opener, K-State rushed for only 27 yards. To close out the 2006 season, the Wildcats mustered just 31 ground yards against Rutgers, 118 versus Kansas and 23 against Texas.

In those games, Johnson had 14 yards against Auburn, 20 versus Rutgers, 28 on Kansas, and 29 against Texas.

Prince has said it often: a quarterback's best friend is a good running game.


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