It’s a crucial week for the Kansas schools and Iowa State.
Kansas State is hosting fellow spread QB run game enthusiasts Mississippi State and are being given eight points at home.
David Beatty is as good as fired after opening the year (predictably) losing to Nicholls. The Kansas media, such as it is, has already moved on to discussing potential hires.
Iowa State didn’t even end up playing in week one due to weather, now they move on to their in-state rivalry game with Iowa.
Kansas State is often characterized as a “bend don’t break” defense, although technically they don’t regularly rank that highly in IsoPPP. It’s really more of a defense geared around stopping the run without simultaneously allowing receivers to run by defenders.
Because they’ve often sat in static shells, yielded room for the pass, and relied on a strategy where weaknesses get hammered, they do tend to give up plays in the passing game. Particularly if they don’t have a pass-rush, like last year.
Blake Seiler seems keen to resolve some of these issues with a few tweaks. For starters, the Wildcats are showing a little more on defense now, disguising some things and mixing up looks, even up front. Additionally, they are much more solid across the depth chart then we’ve seen from them in a while now. The CBs are quite good now that they’ve added the JUCO transfers, Walter Neil is a better looking nickel than they’ve had in a while, the pass-rush looks much better, and there’s more talent across the unit.
But now they have to take on the Joe Moorhead spread offense operated by Nick Fitzgerald, who ran for 1k yards last year. The Bulldogs will bring a ton of run game variety into this game designed to cause hesitation from backers and allow their OL to blow open some creases. Given how the Wildcats looked on offense in week one, it seems likely that K-State will need a good defensive performance to win this game.
Technically the stakes here are relatively low. Kansas State can lose and still compete for the B12 title, but we know they’re going to take this game seriously and how they look while taking on Miss State should reveal a lot about where they’re at right now as a team.
That’s what they call the trophy that goes to the winner of the Iowa-Iowa State game. Last year Iowa State was one of the only teams on their schedule that gave the Iowa defense much trouble and that was without a particularly good run game to help set the table for their passing attack. It was also with Jacob Park at the helm before he fell apart.
Iowa looks more vulnerable on defense now with all three starting linebackers gone, including star Josey Jewell, but they’ll probably still be pretty good and their offense may be much improved with Nate Stanley and Noah Fant back.
The biggest point here though is how well the Cyclone run game performs against a DL that has three returning starters and goes:
6-7, 271 pound RS junior.
6-3, 295 pound junior.
6-8, 295 pound RS senior.
6-3, 261 pound RS senior.
These guys are big, strong, and have had a lot of time learning from this coaching staff and working with the highest paid S&C coach in the country. There’s maybe one DL in the Big 12 that’s comparable to this one in terms of technique, strength, talent, and experience. If the Cyclones can make headway in the run game against this unit that will foretell a very good season for them in the B12.
There’s all kinds of opinions on who Kansas should hire as the next HC. Over at Football Study Hall I’m offering up some history and qualifiers on how they should make the choice.
The obvious choice is for Jeff Long is to hire the same guy he hired at Ar-kansas, Bret Bielema. I tend to think that’s a solid choice. Bielema knows how B12 offenses work and his preferred vision for building a power run team CAN work at Kansas, believe it or not.
Make a wise choice, Kansas.