First Look: Kansas State

Wildcats bring growing quarterback, talented run defense to Norman

For the past two weeks, Oklahoma has watched as a previously middling quarterback used the matchup to put together his best game.

Trevone Boykin victimized the Sooners in TCU’s victory, and Tyrone Swoopes played the best game of his career, almost upsetting Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown.

This week brings another potential-laden quarterback – Kansas State’s Jake Waters.

He’s the lead of an offense that is improving, coming off a bye week and is in first place in the Big 12.

“For the most part it is getting better,” Waters said. “ . . . We are getting better slowly, and we are getting better every single day.”

There’s nothing shockingly special about Kansas State. The Wildcats have no individual in the top four in any major stat category – Waters is fifth in the Big 12 in pass efficiency. They are in the middle of the road in about every team category as well.

That is, except for run defense, in which Kansas State leads the conference and is one of only 10 teams in the country allowing less than 100 yards per game. They rank fourth in the country right now.

“I think it has been somewhat consistent, and that is what we hope for,” Kansas State coach Bill Synder said last week of the defense’s improvement. “They are easy to work with because they work hard on the practice field, dedicated to their preparation and are committed to improve day in and day out. They are a good group of young guys.”

Behind a stout run defense and an opportunistic offense that is scoring more than 40 points per game (16th in the country), Kansas State (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) has moved up in the Top 25 after holding its own against Auburn.

With an extra week to prepare for Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1), the Wildcats still have the ultimate wild card: Snyder, the most experienced coach in the conference.

Even on his 75th birthday last Thursday, Snyder was doing what he always doing. He was watching film – of Kansas State, of practice and of Oklahoma.

Oklahoma learned against TCU that an off week isn’t always the best, and Snyder wanted to hold off his judgment until next Sunday.

“Let's talk after the Oklahoma game,” Snyder said. “We will see if it benefits us or not. . . . The biggest question is: Do you lose the continuity of the routine, day in and day out preparation that goes in and getting back-to-back games on the field where there is a similarity of Saturday games? We will see.”

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