The Kansas Jayhawks travel to Manhattan today in what I'm hearing should be a rivalry game. I've been out of the loop on other Kansas teams, so to help prepare for today's game, I reached out to AMS over at Bring on the Cats, the SB Nation site covering the Kansas State Wildcats. He was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
RCT: I feel like this Kansas State team has been under the radar all year long, with no big expectations for them and no huge flashy wins to make them pop on the nationally radar (admittedly, not being in Kansas probably helps with this). What kind of expectations did Wildcat fans have for this year, and how have they been at meeting them?
BOTC: Fan expectations can be all over the place, from the homer who insists we should go 12-0 to the pessimist who expects a 2-7 record in the conference. Before the season, I personally expected about what we have actually gotten, at least in terms of wins and losses: a team somewhere in the middle six of the conference. We can still finish at either the low end or the high end of my expectations, depending on how the final two games of the regular season go.
How we actually got here has been more surprising, though. I did not expect our pass defense to be as bad as it is. And with the advantage of hindsight, I can say our record should be better than it is. We should have beaten Oklahoma State, and we could have beaten West Virginia.
RCT: Who are the main contributors for this team on each side of the ball?
BOTC: The offense all starts with the offensive line. All of the guys who regularly run the ball (except for short-yardage specialist Winston Dimel) are averaging at least 4.8 yards per carry, and a lot of that can be attributed to the run-blocking up front. In addition to being our leading passer, quarterback Jesse Ertz is our leading rusher, despite the number of long sacks he’s taken this year. On the other hand, I would expect to get a steady diet of freshman running back Alex Barnes on Saturday. Barnes has been excellent but saw limited action until the second half last week against Baylor, when he had four touchdowns in a half. He gets downhill quickly when he takes a handoff -- every time he has carried the ball, he’s gained yards.
On defense, I have to say again that I think the linemen are the key group. There have been better individual defensive linemen during Snyder’s second coaching stint, but this is a solid line from end to end.
RCT: Which player has been the greatest surprise this year? Biggest disappointment?
BOTC: Alex Barnes is the greatest surprise. You just can’t expect a redshirt freshman to come in and average more than 7 yards per carry. I’m going to cheat on picking a disappointment and say co-offensive coordinators Dana Dimel and Del Miller. The playcalling has been maddening at times, with the coaches focusing too much on balance at the expense of effectiveness. Not to mention all of the times the coaches have changed the play at the line of scrimmage only for the new play to go nowhere.
RCT: Describe your team in 3 words
BOTC: Capable of more.
RCT: Prediction Time! Any chance that the Jayhawks can carry their momentum from a win against Texas into Manhattan this week? What’s the final score and who has the longest scoring play?
BOTC: Even with Charlie Strong on the hot seat, KU beating Texas is a great win for you guys. If Beaty can have the patience to be a program builder, and the administration gives him enough time, KU can make the series competitive again. But not this year. Snyder always has his team ready for this game, and the fans and players alike will want to see Snyder win No. 200 against the Jayhawks. KU makes it look good for a quarter, but K-State pulls away and wins 38-10. The longest scoring play is Dominique Heath taking the opening kick of the second half to the house.
RCT: BONUS - Which would you prefer, a personal chef or personal assistant?
BOTC: As long as I don’t have to do the dishes afterward, give me a personal chef.
A big thanks to AMS for helping us out today.