Another Thursday on Frogs O' War means it's time to get in touch with our foes for the week and let them do some of the work for once. TB, czar of the Kansas State blog Bring on the Cats, was kind enough to agree to a Q&A exchange this week, so keep an eye on BotC tomorrow for my (probably overly wordy) answers to his questions. As should be expected of a blogger whose team is #1 on the FoW poll, he's confident coming into this game- let's find out why.
HawkeyedFrog: Kansas State was a popular pick in the media to have a let down season this year, only to become (in my opinion) the best team in the nation. What's better about this team than last year's team that was considered to be overachieving?
TB: Two things, primarily. First, Collin Klein's passing has improved. He's gone from 57 percent to 73 percent completion rate. And he's averaging more than 200 passing yards per game, up from 147 last season. Opposing defenses still usually load the box to take away the run, but it's fast becoming apparent that, unless they have five-star corners, they're damned if they do, damned if they don't.
Second, the defense is playing much better. It's still a bit of a bend-but-don't-break scheme, and it can give up chunks of passing yards, but it works. And it works for two reasons. This year, the Wildcats are tackling much better, thereby preventing the big play. Also, we can pretty much rely on this unit for two turnovers per game.
HawkeyedFrog: Bill Snyder is one of the finest coaches on the planet and this year has been a virtuoso performance for him. How long will he continue coaching in Manhattan, and is he more or less likely to keep coaching if he wins a national title this year?
TB: After he initially said he was just coming back to "calm the waters," I didn't think he'd be around more than three years. But then things really got rolling last year, and its just carried over to this season. Joyless though he may seem, Snyder has to be loving this.
I really don't know how long he'll stick around. As Tim Layden noted in a 1998 Sports Illustrated article, Snyder is a perfectionist, and perfectionists don't chase finite goals, like national titles. But I have to think that, if K-State plays in Miami this year, he'll think about hanging it up. If he goes and does something crazy like winning it all, then I almost hope he retires at the post game ceremony. It would truly be the perfect ending.
HawkeyedFrog: Current Heisman frontrunner Collin Klein was pulled out of the win over Oklahoma State with a possible concussion, which is an injury that there is no clear timetable for return from. Do Wildcat fans expect Klein to play in Fort Worth on Saturday, and if not how does the offense look with the next man up?
TB: I'll be shocked if he doesn't play. Concussions are nothing to mess with, but looking at him on the sideline last weekend, you'd have never known anything was wrong with him. His mom even came out this week and said he's fine. If mom's OK with him playing, that's good enough for me.
HawkeyedFrog: The Kansas State defense has been excellent so far, and will be facing a TCU offense that has sputtered since the loss of Waymon James and Casey Pachall to injuries and idiocy respectively. How do the wildcats typically fare against mobile quaterbacks, and is the secondary deep enough to stay with TCU's deep receiving group all game?
TB: K-State really hasn't seen a truly mobile QB this year, and in recent years the Wildcats have been less than impressive against mobile signal-callers, so it has to be a cause for some concern. Overall, K-State has been pretty solid against the run this year.
Texas Christian will likely make some plays through the air. The Wildcat secondary consists of guys who generally play assignment sound, work to avoid getting beat deep for the big play, and tackle well to prevent big runs after the reception. There isn't really a lockdown corner here. But by playing their assignments, they're often in place to make a big play and force a turnover. And with Boykin's lack of experience, there's a good chance they'll get an opportunity at some point.
HawkeyedFrog: Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri and Texas A&M out, TCU and West Virginia in. What do you make of the new look Big 12 this season (other than "I love it because we're winning it!") and do you think the conference should try to expand back to 12?
Absolutely nothing against y'all and West Virginia, because I think y'all were great additions after last year's debacle. But I'm old enough that I grew up in the old Big 8, and god help me I loved that old conference. I loved the Big 12, too. Nebraska was fun to hate. Colorado was a beautiful road trip. Missouri was...well, I've always liked the Rock M Nation guys. And Texas A&M was that reminder that, no matter how stupid your fans acted, and no matter how idiotic your administration was, you could think "yeah, that's bad, but at least we're not Aggies. Those guys are nuts." Of course, we tested the limits of that with Bob Krause and Ron Prince.
So anyway, no offense, but I'd rather go back to the way things were, if I had my 'druthers. But that's not happening, and I don't think we could've done better than to bring in the two we did. I'd like to see the conference expand to 12 if Florida State and another good candidate is available. I think it's better for the little guys in this conference. But it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon.
HawkeyedFrog: And finally, obligatory prediction time. Kansas State is 9-0 with most of the conference heavies behind it (barring Texas, who you own) so we'll ask for a bonus prediction from you guys. Prediction for this week's score, what record will K-State finish the season with and.... Title game or snub?
TB: I'm not looking forward to facing a Gary Patterson defense, even if it does lack some depth and experience as compared to years past. But as long as Klein plays and isn't limited in any way, I think the Cats get out of Fort Worth with a win. Lets call it 34-17.
Barring a total collapse in Waco, or a massive resurgence by Texas in the next month, I think K-State finishes the regular season undefeated. If this happens, I've convinced myself that the Wildcats will hang on to No. 2. Oregon is a great team, and the Ducks have blown through their schedule thus far. But K-State has been extremely impressive against an inarguably more difficult schedule. I'm not making Miami reservations yet, but I think it's possible that's where we end up.
HawkeyedFrog: If anyone is going to break the SEC stranglehold on crystal footballs this year I think that Kansas State is the team to do it... but that certainly doesn't mean I wouldn't rather see the Wildcats make it to the title game with a loss to the Frogs on their records. I may pull for the Wildcats the rest of the way, but on Saturday it's all about the Frogs. Still, be sure to check in at Bring on the Cats for all K-State news as the Wildcats try to take home their second Big 12 championship, and our thanks to TB for answering our questions.