As we have gone over all week, this game is all about respect. We win on Saturday in Manhattan, we gain a lot of respect in the public eye. If we lose, same ol' Kansas. So how are we going to prove the first 4 games weren't a fluke and beat the Wildcats? Just a couple of simple things, and we should be in a position to win. And Kerry Meier isn't our QB, so if we are in a position to win that probably means we will win! OMG!!! Yea, I'm officially off the Meier bandwagon (does he even have one) and one of the last few on the Todd Reesing bandwagon. He has (finally) made a believer outta me...
1) "100 yards long; 53.5 yards wide..."
No, Mark Mangino isn't going to get out on the field pre-game and measure the field like they did in Hoosiers, and we aren't nearly the underdogs that Hickory was. Still, we haven't won in the building since Billy Snyder's first year (1989) so there has to be some intimidation factor. And while it may seem silly, these are college athletes after all, our players need to block out the crowd. The best way to do this is to jump out to an early lead, but even if we fall behind we can't get rattled. I'm not too worried about this, but if this doesn't happen there is no way we win this game. No way.
2) Control Time of Possession; Run the Ball
So far this season, we have been a quick-strike offense. And honestly, there is nothing wrong with that when you are playing at home against inferior competition. But as Dick Vermiel proved time-and-time again as the coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, it is awfully hard to outscore people on the road. We have a boatload of talent at running back, namely underused Jake Sharp, that we can continue to shove down Kansas State's throats. Brandon McAnderson is the pounder you need to take minutes off the clock, and Reesing can even take off every once in awhile. Freshman Carmon Boyd-Anderson should get a couple of touches in plays specifically designed for him, he can be an explosive presence that will give their defense another level to deal with. And, to top it all off, we don't know how Ed Warriner is going to use Kerry Meier. Against Florida International he lined up at wide receiver and caught a ball, and you have to imagine that Warriner was merely hinting at things to come, sneaking a peek in at what we really have with Meier. I would bet he gets the ball at least a handful of times on Saturday, in some capacity. Could he even take a snap or two at QB?
3) Stop Jordy Nelson
Whether Aqib Talib follows Jordy around or not, he can't go off like he did against Texas. This is really the first test of the year for the Jayhawk defense, and the hardest question to figure out is #27. I would bet we zone around him, we double him and we line up Talib opposite him, but he hopefully won't be matched up with a safety or a linebacker too often, if at all. While I'm not worried about Talib, I am worried about, if matched up against Nelson, how the other corners will fare, namely Chris Harris. Harris has looked pretty good thus far (or I guess sounded like has looked pretty good; I haven't been able to see him play as of yet) but he has yet to face a test anywhere near the difficulty of a Jordy Nelson or, for that matter, the Wildcats' #2 receiver Deon Murphy.
4) Win the Turnover Battle
The majority of the time, the team who turns it over less is going to win. Especially on the road. Just ask Herm Edwards, it is essentially his entire philosophy as a coach. While Reesing has looked very good thus far, throwing only 1 INT, our team as a whole has struggled with ball security. We have fumbled the ball 7 times, losing possession 5 of those times. That isn't acceptable in Big 12 play, and hopefully the coaches used the bye week to go back to the fundamentals of holding onto the ball. A timely Aqib Talib INT could go a long way in what figures to be a hotley contested match, but a INT going the other way could be equally painful. I get the feeling there will be more than one or two turnovers in this game, and the winner will be the one who gets more and/or the most timely.
I lied, no Thursday Night Preview. You all know the history of the Wildcats anyways though, so no biggie. If you are antsy for a preview of the game head on over to Hawk Digest. He has some great stuff over there.
And lastly, please feel free to register (top right hand corner --> "Create Account") an account and comment in the open game thread. I will be reffing flag football, but have the Tivo all set up and will watch it upon my return. This will be the first game I will get to watch, so I should be doing a film review sometime Monday or Tuesday.