|FOX Kansas State vs Arkansas|
Tye Burger, of Bring on The Cats, a blog devoted completely to Kansas State sports, answered some questions for us.
Tye Burger: K-State was able to maximize its talent this season for several reasons. For one, the talent level on defense was upgraded from last year, with Arthur Brown taking over at MLB, Nigel Malone having a breakout season in the secondary, and Ray Kibble having an all-conference season in the middle. Being able to stop, or at least slow down, opposing rushing attacks, K-State had a much better chance to win games. Also, while the pass defense was mediocre, K-State forced quite a few turnovers, giving its offense extra opportunities.
On offense, K-State wasn't particularly talented overall, but K-State was able to maximize its strengths and the players bought into the system. It didn't hurt that Collin Klein turned out to be basically a workhorse running back who can throw, too. Overall, it showed that Bill Snyder is still one of the best talent evaluators and personnel managers among college coaches. He evaluates his roster and develops a game plan to maximize its strengths and minimize its weaknesses. Now, if he's just do something about the defensive coordinator...
BS: The offense put up a lot of points, led by playmaking QB Collin Klein. Talk about his dual-threat ability and who are his top weapons?
Tye Burger: Watching the reaction of opposing fanbases to Klein this year has been entertaining. He's not the fastest quarterback, he doesn't have the greatest arm, he tends to stare down receivers, and he doesn't have a bunch of playmakers at wide receiver. No problem to stop, right? But while he's not the fastest, he's also far from slow, he sees the field well, and he's shifty. He's also tougher than rawhide. And while he's not a great passer and doesn't have have great playmakers to throw to, he's plenty capable of hitting a play-action pass over the top after the defense gets lulled to sleep by the K-State rushing attack.
Unfortunately, Klein lost his biggest weapon at wide receiver when true freshman Tyler Lockett was injured against Oklahoma State. He still has Chris Harper, who is a big strong receiver and taller than most defensive backs. Tramaine Thompson is a little guy who can break a big play if he gets the ball out in space. In the backfield, John Hubert has been a solid running back when he's been healthy. With more than a month to rest, he should be ready to go against Arkansas.
BS: The defense has struggled at times. What do they need to do to slow down the explosive Arkansas offense and who are the key players?
Tye Burger: Arkansas is going to make plays against this defense, of that I have no doubt. But turnovers will be key. If K-State's defense can snag a couple of Tyler Wilson's passes, then the Wildcats will have a good chance at a win. Slowing down the Arkansas rushing attack needs to be on the Wildcats' to-do list, too. K-State has been solid against the run this year, and it can't afford to let Arkansas get it off balance and vulnerable both on the ground and through the air.
BS: If you could choose one player to have a breakout performance in the bowl game, who would it be?
Tye Burger: It wouldn't exactly be a breakout game in the sense that he's been very good all year, but I would love to see Collin Klein play well against the Razorbacks. Despite winning 10 games in what may have been the best conference in the country this season, there is still plenty of doubt about K-State. The Wildcats are unanimously installed as a full touchdown underdog in this game. It would be very satisfying to see Klein lead the Wildcats to an eleventh win, especially against an SEC school.
Defensively, I hope David Garrett plays well. He and Arthur Brown have been K-State's most reliable defensive players this season, and Garrett gets no respect outside of Manhattan. He was only honorable mention in the Big 12's postseason awards, despite being K-State's second-leading tackler and locking down opposing receivers all season. It'd be great to see the Rat make a big play against Arkansas.