Admit it. When you looked at Missouri’s football schedule and went down the list, you got to October 8th at K-State and said, “That’s a win.” Not so fast. Here we are four games into the 2011 season and the Wildcats are a much different team than we all expected.
This is not the same K-State team that Mizzou has beaten by an average of 18 points over the last five years including a 38-28 win last year in Columbia.
Bill Snyder has the Wildcats playing some good ball which includes a win at Miami and an impressive home win against Baylor last Saturday. The win has K-State at #20 in the AP Poll.
The Tigers may gets some depth back at tailback. Kendial Lawrence and De’Vion Moore have practiced, but are not 100 percent. Head coach Gary Pinkel explained. “De’Vion went both Saturday and Sunday and Kendial just went on Sunday. It’s nice to have those guys back. Will they be able to play? We might know more Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, but it might be a game day decision. It’s possible they’ll both play, it’s possible they both won’t play.”
What has made K-State unpredictible is their ability to hit you with the big play which Missouri’s secondary has shown is vulnerable to giving up big yards. Is that all on the secondary or the lack of pass rush? Pinkel says the defensive line’s production has been down and a big key to that is Jacquies Smith is not 100%, suffering that dislocated elbow early in the year.
“I think if you look at that, Jacquies Smith has been kind of in and out of there. To get Jacquies back to playing at the level he’s played at, I think that’s important. I don’t think we have some of the numbers we need [on the defensive line], as compared to where we were at the end of [last] year. We have nine conference games and have only played one, so we have a lot of football ahead of us. We are just trying to get better. I think when you look at some of the plays we’ve had against our defense, is it not enough pressure? Is it bad coverage? Well, I think it’s a combination of all. We’re working to make it better,” said Pinkel.
Back to K-State and their big play potential. Pinkel said they can get you so focused on stopping their run, that it makes it easier for them to go long and beat you with the pass.
“They can go over-the-top with the ball. No question about it. In fact, you are most vulnerable to big plays because you are doing everything you can to stop the run, and they are such a good running football team, then they play-action and go on top with the football. That makes you very vulnerable. That means the secondary has to get run-pass keys and be disciplined, yet you want them up there being tough in run support. That’s our challenge to get that done.”
Make no mistake, K-State is a run first type of team. Pass offense ranks 115th in D-I football, but the Tigers pass defense is a shoddy 97th.