Curtis Kitchen has followed the Big 12, Kansas State and national college basketball beat including K-State's run to the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in 2010. You can currently follow his work at his blog: KitchenKC.com In the past, he also covered the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) for Major League Soccer's mlsnet.com site as well as the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals for the other sports station in town. His freelance portfolio ranges media outlets and publications, including gopowercat.com (part of the Rivals network), collegehoopsnet.com and the Miami Herald.
Curtis Kitchen: Hey Hey K-State is 3-0
by Curtis Kitchen,posted Oct 1 2011 9:45AM
Someone smart once told me that 90 percent of any successful person’s makeup is having the ability to be there.
A quarter of the way through the 2011 college football season, the Kansas State Wildcats have been there. It hasn’t been pretty at times (see needing all four quarters to beat Eastern Kentucky). It hasn’t been easy (as the offense showed its problems in a sluggish second half against Kent State). Sometimes, it has been purely magical (holding Miami out of the end zone after the Hurricanes had first-and-goal at the two-yard line).
But, here the Wildcats are at 3-0 – proving that while they may not be anyone’s first choice for the prom, they’re certainly attractive enough to take pictures.
Now, how long does it last? If some things go right, this team actually is built to live up to its 8-win prediction I gave back in August.
With 378 yards, Collin Klein leads the team in rushing as a quarterback. He is averaging 22 carries per game. Is that sustainable? I suppose it is, but one would like to think his role in the running game may recede a bit now that John Hubert has won the starting nod over Angelo Pease and Bryce Brown. In a perfect world, Pease comes back strong from an injury that kept him out against Miami, and the two backs can slot together in the fashion that head coach Bill Snyder prefers. If that happens, the chances that K-State can keep its solid running game in order increase dramatically. And, a team that can run the ball effectively later in the season has a distinct advantage against defenses worn out from the normal wear-and-tear that comes with conference play.
Say Klein can “rest” some; his passing should remain solid as well. Much maligned for his throwing ability, the junior quarterback was more that serviceable against the Hurricanes as he was asked to complete short to medium passes on outside and underneath routes. The strategy fits the physical wide-receiving corps. As long as his arms don’t take a regular beating similar to what we saw last week in Florida, Klein can be expected to make those throws consistently. Only when the Wildcats are forced to go downfield more – against Oklahoma, perhaps – will Klein really be pushed.
As for the rest of the offense, consistent improvement has been the mantra for 20-plus years. It is no different this season, and the offensive line continues to do so.
Defensively, boy, so much for folding against that amazing Hurricanes offense, eh? What the Wildcats proved is that guys are prone to the occasional mistake, but, for the most part, have been well coached in terms of assignment-sound football. Then, they are in position to use their speed from the linebacker and defensive secondary levels.
Again, that’s the kind of stuff that carries a group through an entire season. It is a solid platform from which teams can keep improving.
Sophomore Tre Walker is no longer simply running around and making plays – the best example of which came on his game-winning stop last Saturday. He read the play, then he bolted forward, then he made a sure tackle.
It was picture-perfect, just like the 3-0 start has been thus far…as long as you look at the picture standing back a fair distance and while you’re moving.
Either way, it has been an exciting start for K-State, and there are definite signs that this team could carry its success far into Big 12 play.