Oklahoma State goes to Manhattan, Kan., this weekend looking for just the second win on the K-State campus since 1988. There was a time when wins over K-State's then re-named Mildcats were just assumed but Bill Snyder changed that. Oklahoma State has a grand total of one win over Snyder in Manhattan and that came in 2010. Snyder-coached Kansas State teams are 11-6 all-time against the Cowboys.
The trademark of Kansas State on offense under Snyder is clean play, few mistakes and this team certainly qualifies as Kansas State has a grand total of seven turnovers (four interceptions and three lost fumbles) in eight games. If you are going to get the ball back from the Wildcats then you had best keep them behind the chains and get them on three-and-outs.
"They are very efficient, they don't let you get the ball back," Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. "And they drive and they finish with points. Somebody started the question that Kansas State is 107th in offense in the nation, what does that mean? They had nine possessions last week at Iowa State and scored 31 points, 10 because one of them was a kneel down. That's over three points a possession. That is what they are trying to do and it works. They win ball games. You watch the clock tick and watch them drive down the field. That is the most frustrating thing."
On top of that efficiency is the fact that Kansas State, like they have seemingly always had when they are good, has a running quarterback. Jesse Ertz, slated to start last season as a sophomore when he tore his knee up on the first play of the first game and was out for the season, is leading the Wildcats in rushing with 477 yards on 81 carries. He has six rushing touchdowns and averages 5.9 yards a carry.
"He's a weapon equal to the running backs and you have to have him accounted for," Spencer said of K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz.
The Cowboys defensive linemen know the rule, running quarterback means no all-out pass rush, keep your position, be ready to be disciplined on all pass rush plays, and the assignments against the zone read and option looks. Vili Leveni knows the drill as Oklahoma State has seen quarterbacks that are just as apt to run in six of their eight games this season.
"Yes sir, for the ends, you can't pass the level of the quarterback, you have to be disciplined in your rush," Leveni said. "For the inside guys, they have to be disciplined going in the A gaps and the B gaps and not open up any running lanes for him. You gotta be, like you said, very disciplined in the way you rush him and how you play your responsibilities."
For that reason, and knowing that if Ertz runs for a lot of yards it is a good sign that K-State will win, the Cowboys defensive ends like Leveni, Jarrell Owens, Cole Walterscheid, Tralund Webber, and Trey Carter are the pressure point Saturday at Kansas State.