Opponent QA: Kansas State
MORE: Hawk Eyes: Week 1
With the Kansas State looming we caught up with Jon Morse from Bringonthecats.com for this week's Opponent Q&A.
1. How does the offense change without Jesse Ertz running the show?
Well, that's a pretty good question, since we don't know what the offense was going to really look like WITH Ertz running the show. Bill Snyder is always going to want the run game to control the flow of play, whether that's using a strong run game to set up the pass or, as last year, using a strong passing game to set up the run.
Unfortunately, South Dakota told us nothing. We know what Joe Hubener is: a guy with a cannon who can run, but whose decisions can be a little off and whose accuracy in coverage is questionable. In addition, Hubener was victimized by his own receivers last weekend. At least two sure touchdowns were flat out dropped by their targets. The running backs are an open question, although the combo of Glenn Gronkowski and Winston Dimel may well set up a power run game going forward.
2. What would you consider the strengths of the Kansas State offense heading into the UTSA game?
The offense's main strength is the line, which is what gives hope that a power run game might actually work here for a change. The top two wideouts, Deante Burton and Dominique Heath, have real playmaking ability; we're just waiting to see it develop in actual game action.
3. If you were an offensive coordinator, how would you attack the Kansas State defense?
Prayer, mostly, although if Dante Barnett's injury is severe enough to keep him off the field this week it'll be a big help for the Roadrunners. Other than Danzel McDaniel, nobody on this defense is a grade-A star, but with the exception of Barnett's replacement if he's out (probably Kendall Adams), every single starter on the defense is a solid guy with a resume. There might be something to exploit in the linebacking corps, whose only major flaw is inexperience working together.
4. How does the talent level of the 2015 Kansas State team compare to last season's group?
Defensively, better overall despite the graduation of Ryan Mueller and Jonathan Truman; offensively, a lot worse. The loss of Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett is bad enough on its own, but Curry Sexton was also a nearly irreplaceable #2 receiver, very much a guy who was in the Wes Welker mold. There are actual freshmen involved in this offense -- Heath, Dalvin Warmack, Justin Silmon, Alex Delton -- so they're hard to get a read on just yet. It's one of those situations where this offense could be scary good in 2016 with much the same personnel, but maybe not so much this year.
5. What are the keys to victory for Kansas State this week?
Establishing the run game so that the contest doesn't rely on Hubener's arm, and based on observation of the Arizona game a solid reliance on the zone read might well work to K-State's advantage; conversely, locking down the line of scrimmage on defense like the Wildcats did against South Dakota. Preventing big plays in the secondary will also be very important, especially given what UTSA was able to accomplish against Arizona.
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