2008 Not Going As Planned

Third-year coach Ron Prince had several areas of emphasis on offense and defense entering the year, but not many are panning out in this 4-4 season.

Kansas State football coach Ron Prince had a mission statement entering the season. Offensively, he wanted to run the ball with power, pass the ball with precision, find explosive plays and eliminate the negative ones.

Two-thirds through the 2008 season, Kansas State is passing with precision as Josh Freeman is hitting a respectable 61 percent, but also a figure that ranks only ninth in the Big 12.

Explosive plays, Brandon Banks has provided his as his seven pass receptions have averaged 49 yards. In addition, Jeron Mastrud, Deon Murphy and Ernie Pierce have also caught passes for at least 50 yards.

As for the rest, the offense has been broken.

K-State's 134-yard rushing average is eighth in the league, and it's 3.9-yards per carry is 10th. Against decent competition, the Wildcats rushed for 30 yards against Louisville, 113 against Texas Tech, 112 against Colorado and 64 against Oklahoma.

While KSU QBs have been sacked only seven times this season, it was after the Oklahoma game that Prince said that OU's "harassment" of Freeman led to several of the five turnovers. Negative plays? K-State's 10 lost fumbles is highest in the Big 12 and its total of 16 turnovers is highest.

Defensively, Prince detailed before the season that K-State must do a better job of beating blocks, limiting big plays, sack the quarterback and get turnovers.

Tackling has been a K-State issue from the first game to the most recent, and plays of 15 yards are somewhat routine. The Wildcats have sacked quarterbacks 14 times, which ranks eighth in the league, and have forced but nine turnovers - five recovered fumbles and four interceptions - which is low in the league.

K-State's negative-eight is the lowest turnover-ratio in the league.

The Wildcats are 10th, 11th or 12th in the Big 12 in scoring defense (31.4), rushing defense (200.9) and total defense (441.6).

"It may not seem like to people outside the program, but we're getting better," said end Ian Campbell.

As a player, asked if playing in the Big 12's spread offense era was bad timing for any league player, Campbell said, "I can't change what era I'm in." But he admitted, "It (spread) poses different challenges. It causes you to do more than just butt somebody. You have to be able to run and to think because the game is more challenging."

He then explained, "The game is like chess, but the pawns hit back."

Prince said he was "cautiously optimistic" that running back Lamark Brown and center Jordan Bedore would be able to play in Saturday's 11:30 a.m. kickoff at Kansas.

Defensive lineman Gabriel Crews, however, is likely to miss the Kansas game.

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