Roberson and Sproles the Key to Stopping Wildcats
There is no doubt that the key to success for the O-State defense in stopping the K-State offense is to control quarterback Ell Roberson and tailback Darren Sproles. A year ago, the Cowboys did a decent job against the Wildcats' running attack -- only to see Roberson have one of his best days passing the football. I'll take a chance, as will the Cowboys, on lightning not striking twice.
Sproles, who has ran for 113.7 yards a game is probably more important to keep under wraps. If the mighty mite is making yards then the K-State offense will be able to do just about anything it pleases. Sproles is effective because he is very fast, strong, can hide behind linemen, is very good at the cutback run and can change directions at near full speed. Assignment defense with gap control is a must.
Roberson is effective on the option, midline option, quarterback sweep and scrambling. Again, the entire defense needs to maintain position so as to not give him openings to work with. It was evident watching film of the Texas game that the left wrist injury still bothers him, He never carried the ball long in the left hand, and had it in the right (on the wrong side) when he fumbled the ball to Texas for the game-winning drive.
The offensive line is solid with center Nick Leckey and guards Ryan Lilja and Mike Johnson being the top blockers. They are not as big as past years with Lilja being the only 300-pounder on the line.
The receivers are solid, but the OSU secondary should be able to handle them. Watch out for James Terry and his 6-5 frame as he presents a really big target with good speed.
Fullback Travis Wilson is a load and can catch passes out of the backfield.
Defense Not the Same
This is where I think the 'Cats have changed the most. Terrence Newman at corner was a huge luxury. He could shut down a receiver and did a good job on Rshaun Woods last season. With Newman the Wildcats ran plenty of cover one shading the safety away from Newman. It allowed them to be more aggressive up front. This season they have been a cover-two team with two safeties deep. Now they can't get nearly as cute with the front seven.
That said, they do have 27 sacks! However, most of those sacks belong to defensive linemen with ends like 6-8, 265-pound Kevin Huntly and Andrew Shull collecting the bulk. The front four averages about 4.5 sacks each. The linebackers, primarily Bryan Hickman and Ted Sims have some, but Josh Buhl has none. The fastest of the K-State backers is held back to make tackles sideline to sideline in the running game and help with short pass coverage. The corner to pick on may be senior Randy Jordan, but this defense has held Texas' Roy Williams and Marshall's Darrius Watts to three receptions each.
Marshall ran on this defense and Texas had some success too. I believe Oklahoma State can do both on Saturday.
You do have to be very disciplined on the offensive line. K-State likes to bark signals at your offense. That is illegal, but these guys have it down to an art form, and they did force Texas into several illegal proceedure penalties.
Special Teams Edge
This may be where the Cowboys have their biggest edge. As we mentioned earlier, Terrence Newman is gone, and it's the Cowboys that have the likes of Darrant Williams, Gabe Lindsay, and Vernand Morency to make plays in the return game. The Cowboys have the better kicker and punter in Luke Phillips and Cole Farden, respectively. The difference in the two teams net punting average is four yards. That could add up. Special teams could have the play that decides a close game, and I'd bet it would be the Cowboys making the play.
The Game Plan
I do feel like the game plan on the offensive side looks very good. I believe it is one that will allow the Cowboys to maximize their efforts in both the run game and passing attack. I know that is very vague, but you will get to see on Saturday. I think you'll enjoy.
Pups Will Get Snaps
Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar said if K-State runs 65-70 plays in the game then he expects freshmen like Xavier Lawson-Kennedy, Brad Gortman, Maquis Fountain, along with veteran backups Mike Williams, Brian Hix, and defensive end Khreem Smith, even linebacker Victor DeGrate to see 25-30 snaps.
"I want Clay Coe, Greg Richmond, and Antonio Smith to be fresh and ready to make plays," said Dunbar. "A coach once told me that if a dog will bite, he'll bite as a pup. We need biting dogs and puppies."
Dunbar said with the experience the younger players received in the non conference, it is now time for them to show they can play in the Big 12.
Hurts Turnout, But A Few Official Visitors Possible
The 11:30 a.m. kickoff forced almost all of the Texas prospects that were going to travel up for the Kansas State game to change their plans. Most of them will come to the Texas game on November 8 instead.
Now along with many of the top prospects, including Cowboy commitments in Oklahoma, some from Kansas, and a few others it looks like a couple of official visits will be made by two massive prospects from Louisiana.
Big defensive end Glenn Davis out of Baton Rouge University High School, an early LSU commitment, might be coming in for a visit. The 6-6, 330-pounder is a load.
Another prospect from
Louisiana is 6-7, 275-pound Tyson
Jackson out of West St. John High School in Edgard, La. We'll have a complete
rundown of the visitors in our postgame material.