On Saturday (11:30 A.M., FSN) at Faurot Field, the #17 Missouri Tigers (7-2, 3-2) play host to the #24 Kansas State Wildcats (6-3, 3-3). Kansas State is coming off of a 39-14 win over Texas in Manhattan, during which Kansas State converted five Garrett Gilbert interceptions into a 39-0 3rd quarter lead.
Once again, Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder is doing a great job with his football team, and the Wildcats are playing well at this point in the season. Offensively, Kansas State plans to run the football, and they're going to stick with their running game as long as they can. The Wildcats are scoring 32.2 points/game, which is 6th in the conference, and 35th in the country.
Last week against Texas, the Wildcats got out to an early lead, and only threw four passes the entire game. Coach Snyder has two starting QBs. Senior Carson Coffman 6'3" 211 has been the starter for most of the season, and has produced the following statistical line: 118-178-6 (66.3%) (11.1 yards/completion) (136.44 passer efficiency rating) 8 TDs. Sophomore Collin Klein 6'5" 230 is listed as the co-starter, and got the start last week. Klein is more of a running threat. Klein has thrown just 9 passes this season, but has 40 rushing attempts, for an average of 5.6 yards/carry. Coach Snyder talked about his QB situation.
"I don't have a problem with playing two quarterbacks," said Coach Snyder. "I've never been committted to saying that we can only play one guy................... If one offers something, maybe a little bit above the other, then I have no problem with that."
Kansas State ranks 11th in the conference (103rd NCAA) in passing offense, at 161.2 yards/game. Yet, their pass efficency rating of 137.26 ranks 5th in the Big 12, and 39th in the country. Because they run the ball 66% of the time, when they do pass, it's highly effective. The Wildcats leading receiver is senior Aubrey Quarles 5'11" 200 (3.5 reception/game) (13.4 yards/reception), who also leads the team with 3 TD receptions.
Kansas State's second leading receiver is senior RB Daniel Thomas 6'2" 228 (2.6 receptions/game) (5.6 yards/reception). Thomas is the 2nd leading rusher in the conference (7th NCAA) at 122.4 yards/game (5.1 yards/carry) and 12 TDs. He averages 23.8 carries/game, so expect a full helping of this future NFL running back, and bring your friends when you want to try to tackle this powerful back.
Earlier this week, Missouri Head Coach Gary Pinkel was asked about Thomas.
"(Daniel Thomas is an) impact player, (a) big athlete, (a) hard runner," began Coach Pinkel. "He's even thrown the ball a few times. So (he's) a really, really good athlete. He's a very talented guy who also wears you out, too. The more you go, the more he runs the football, as the quarters tick away, his presence is even more so. (He's) just a great player."
As usual, Coach Snyder's Wildcats are very good on special teams. Senior RB William Powell 5'9" 207 is leading the nation in kick-off returns, with an average of 34.6 yards/return. And, sophomore punter Ryan Doerr 6'3" 189 has performed very well. These are two key components in the field position battle which underscores Coach Snyder's gameday approach.
Coach Pinkel indicated on Monday that he expects the Wildcats to utilize a version of the defensive scheme that Texas Tech and Nebraska threw at Missouri each of the last two weeks. This defensive scheme, which utilizes 7-8 DBs, has evolved over the past 3-4 years, and is proving to be very effective against the spread offenses which are so prevalent in the Big 12. This hybrid defensive scheme involves the use of some zone coverage, combined with man-to-man coverage underneath the zones.
"Anything you struggle with, on either side of the football," explained Coach Pinkel, referring to the defenses his team has faced the last two weeks. "Anything you struggle with, your next opponent is going to do it, within their system. That's coaching 101. If you've got problems with something, and you don't fix something, you'll see it. So, I expect certainly, to see it."
Kansas State's defense is led by junior LB Alex Hrebec 5'11" 247 (73 total tackles, 9 PBUs), junior LB David Garrett 5'8" 176 (55 tackles, 10 TFLs, 3 sacks, 7 PBUs), junior S Tyson Hartmann 6'3" 206 (54 tackles, 2 INTs), and freshman S Ty Zimmerman 6'1" 203 (50 tackles, 3 TFLs, 2 INTs).
The Wildcats have been much better at defending against the pass than against the run. Kansas State ranks 4th in the conference (63nd NCAA) against the pass, surrendering 217 yards/game through the air, and 3rd in the conference in pass defense efficiency, trailing only Nebraska and Missouri, and allowing opponents to complete just 53.6% of their pass attempts. Kansas State has garnered 11 interceptions, while giving up just 12 TD receptions.
Kansas State ranks last in the Big 12 (113th NCAA) in defending the run (218.7 yards/game), and 11th in the conference (103rd NCAA) in total defense (435.7 yards/game). The Wildcats are giving up 24.33 points/game, which ranks 6th in the Big 12 (57th NCAA). K-State's opponents have averaged 5.6 yards/carry. The Wildcats' own running game ranks 2nd in the conference (201.2 yards/game). Yet, K-State's opponents have outgained the Wildcats on the ground (218.7 yards/game).
Coach Snyder has his Wildcats playing smart, tough, physical football.
"I've got great respect for him," said Coach Pinkel, referring to Coach Snyder. "He's a very, very good football coach. They are very smart. They have a plan, and they stick with it................. They're a very, very good football team."
[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]
407.78 [45th]___ Total Offense___ 362.44 [70th]
152.33 [63rd]___Rushing Offense__ 201.22 [20th]
18___________TDs Rushing__________ 27
255.44 [34th]___Passing Offense_ 161.22 [103rd]
126.17 [72nd]__ Passing Efficiency__ 137.26 [39th]
13___________TDs Passing____________ 9
30.78 [43rd]____Scoring Offense____ 32.22 [35th]
368.11 [62nd]___ Total Defense___435.67 [101st]
147.56 [57th]__ Rushing Defense_ 218.67 [113th]
7_________ TDs Allowed Rushing________ 12
220.56 [69th]___Passing Defense__ 217.00 [62nd]
112.77 [20th]__ Pass Effic. Defense__ 112.96 [21st]
11________ TDs Allowed Passing________ 12
16.33 [8th]_____Scoring Defense___ 24.33 [57th]
+0.67 [23rd]__ Turnover Margin__ +0.78 [15th]
15 / 8_ ______ Fumbles/Lost_______ 14 / 5
5_________ Interceptions Thrown_________ 7
12________ Interceptions Gained________ 11
22.55 [48th]___Kickoff Return Avg._ __ 28.29 [1st]
6.48 [87th]____ Punt Return Avg.____7.59 [70th]
41.00 [6th]____ Net Punting Avg.___ 39.23 [15th]
2.89 [11th]_______Sacks By______ 1.44 [91st]
1.56 [42nd]____ Sacks Allowed____2.22 [T-77th]
28:24 [T-98th]__ Avg. Time of Poss.___ 30:11 [56th]
34.7% [100th]___3rd Down Conv.__ 42.5% [44th]
50.0% [T-62nd]__4th Down Conv._ 55.6% [T-53rd]