The Ralphie Report sat down with the outstanding Kansas State blog, Bring on the Cats, to learn a little more about the Buffs next Big 12 conference opponent. The Kansas State Wildcats currently lead the Big 12 North with a 2 - 1 record and are coming off a dismantling of the Texas A&M Aggies.
We all know about WR/KR Brandon Banks on the offensive side of the ball but not a whole lot about RB Daniel Thomas and QB Grant Gregory. Thomas looks like a horse who was a JUCO transfer that arrived for fall camp as a quarterback/running back but has excelled as a running back. Was this expected from Thomas?
I dare say that more might have been expected, although that's not a knock on Thomas. Given the usually reserved comments from Bill Snyder's coaching staff, the preseason hype about Thomas was unbelievable. One K-State writer joked that the coaching staff was setting up a play where Thomas would hike the ball to himself, then throw a pass 20 yards downfield to...himself. Anyway, I don't think we've even seen everything he's going to be asked to do this year. He's only thrown one pass on the season, and I think it's high time that he throw another pass out of the Wildcat formation.
What's the fan support/expectations like this year in the aftermath of the Ron Prince payout scandal and the return of Bill Snyder? Should the Buffs expect a loud sellout crowd, or is fan support somewhat down this year?
The crowd support this year has been a pleasant surprise. It was packed for Snyder's return at the UMass game. Last weekend, in a game against a far-flung opponent (Texas A&M) that didn't seem to have much meaning coming in, the stadium was again pretty full with almost 45,000 in attendance, although I thought it was more than that during the game. Given that we're suddenly leading the division and have a winnable game against a divisional opponent, I would guess we'll see another near-sellout, with as excited a crowd as there has been in a while in Manhattan.
Everyone is going to want to hear about the yo-yo ride Kansas State fans have been on the past few weeks, losing to Texas Tech by 52 and then beating Texas A&M by 48. Briefly what went wrong against Tech and went went right against A&M?
Basically, it was the usual case of a team getting some bad momentum early and riding the tide to a disastrous conclusion. Fortunately, in the second game, it was our opponent who was on the wrong side of the early momentum. One of my buddies remarked in the first quarter of the Texas A&M game that he was really happy to be leading 17-0, but knew that it could just as easily have been the other way around. And that was true, because we'd seen the exact same thing the week before when Tech went up three scores before we even knew what had hit us. Given what this team went through the last two years, it still has a pretty fragile mindset, so it needs thing to go well early. The first quarter of every game is crucial for K-State this season.
Is KSU a relatively young team like the Buffs or more experienced? Which positions have the greatest depth and experience?
Unfortunately, we're very experienced. Thanks to Ron Prince and his great JUCO experiment, we'll be losing about 30 players this season. Strangely, we also generally don't have a whole lot of quality depth, either. That Prince was a real recruiting sonofagun. Our two best positions for depth are probably running back, where Keithen Valentine has been a more than capable backup to Daniel Thomas, and in the defensive backfield, where we can seeming run out any number of guys that do at least a fair job (except against Texas Tech, of course). Other than that, at most positions we have one or two guys who are pretty good and then absolutely nothing behind them.
Where do you think Kansas State has the advantage and where do you think Colorado has the advantage against Kansas State?
I hesitate to say K-State has an advantage over any team in any aspect of the game this year, because as soon as I make such a prediction, it usually comes crashing down on me. But I'll say that I think our defense has a chance to significantly slow down the Buffaloes. Last week, we held A&M to -13 rushing yards, and as I mentioned above, our defensive backfield is a team strength. I would expect we'll load up on the running game and dare Tyler Hanson to beat us throwing the ball, trusting that our DBs can handle CU's wide receivers.
In the same vein, I'd say that Colorado has a good chance to slow down the K-State offense. I don't have the stats right now, but I know the Buffs made KU's running game pretty much non-existent. If they can do that this weekend, then Grant Gregory or Carson Coffman are going to have a hell of a time trying to move the ball. Basically, I could see this becoming a very low-scoring defensive struggle.