Time to "Step Up my big-play capabilities"

When arguably the top player on your defense talks about stepping his game up- you know it is the Sunflower Showdown. Ian Campbell says it is just this simple, you do not want to lose to anyone in the state of Kansas and there are emotions and ties on both sides.....

Ian Campbell has a goal: "You never want to lose to another Kansas team. You want to be from the best team in Kansas. Nobody wants to be looked at as the second best team in the state." Saturday in an 11 a.m. kickoff at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, 3-1 and No. 24 ranked Kansas State plays host to a 4-0 Kansas team that has out-scored its first four opponents by a 214-23 margin.

"The Jayhawks are a really talented team," said the Wildcat defensive end/outside linebacker. "We just came off a really big win against Texas, so you can kind of look at it as a comparison to last year."

That's when Kansas had a bye week when K-State was out-scoring No. 4 Texas 45-42. This year as the Jayhawks rested, the Wildcats defeated the No. 7 Longhorns, 41-21.

With hopes of handling the high of the win over Texas better this year than last, Campbell said, "I think if we keep our heads screwed on, we'll be all right. Last year they played better than we did. We turned the ball over, they didn't that much, and they made big plays."

He added, "It's a big game because of the rivalry, and there are brothers and sisters being fans of K-State or KU. It's going to have a lot of things going being the second league game of the year and the first Big 12 North game."

What Kansas State's defense has is a lot of things going after limiting Missouri State to only 191 yards two weeks ago, and the Longhorns to just 330 yards this past week.

"The best thing we did was shut down Jamaal Charles, shut down their running game, and get after Colt McCoy," said Campbell, who Wednesday was awarded as the Master Coaches Survey

Defensive Player of the Week honor for his interception return for a touchdown, two tackles and one quarterback hurry.

K-State held Charles, the league's No.1 back, to 72 yards, or 46 yard under his average, plus intercepted McCoy four times, had seven pass breakups and 13 quarterback hurries.

Up next is a Kansas Jayhawk team ranking fourth in the nation in scoring (53.5), 12th in rushing (227) and third in total offense (553). KU's 1-2 rushing punch of Brandon McAnderson (82) and Jake Sharp (77) average 159 yards between them, while quarterback Todd Reesing completes 59 percent of his passes for 300 yards per game.

"Kansas has a few more dynamic things," admits Campbell.

The Wildcats' 6-foot-5, 242-pound junior, however, has been pretty dynamic, as well, playing some snaps at left end, and others at outside linebacker. While saying that can be difficult, the Cimarron native also says "... it's a lot of fun because they don't know where I'm coming from. I'm not just that left end where they can point me out. Where I line up depends on what we think they're going to do." Campbell says he's becoming more comfortable as a linebacker, but it only stands to reason that several hundred practices at end makes a difference over 25, or so, workouts as a linebacker.

The fact that Campbell has just 14 tackles, 3.5 tackles for losses and 1.5 sacks leaves him to say he needs to improve his "ball aware" skills and to "step up my big-play capabilities."

But overall, he reasons, "I'm not frustrated because while you love to get the sack or the big hit that's seen on ESPN, overall our numbers are higher when it comes to team sacks than last year at this time, so that's pleasing." Oh, so which is the better team in the Sunflower State? "Is that a trick question?" quipped Campbell. "We'll find out Saturday."

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