Welcome back to Six Shooter, where this week we're joined by the excellent Jon Morse of SBNation's Kansas State's Bring On The Cats. Jon was kind enough to agree to an information exchange despite having some real world issues this week, so in the spirit of goodness I answered questions for him as well, which you can find on Bring on the Cats at around 1 PM. Let's get to it!
HawkeyedFrog: Things sure have changed since week 1, haven't they? Kansas State had just lost to an FCS team at home, while TCU had almost pulled an upset over LSU and the pollsters were pretty excited about the Frogs. Then TCU got worse with seemingly every passing week, while K-State has rallied into not only a bowl squad but the team no one in the Big 12 wants to play now. What's changed for K-State to come so far this season?
Jon: Several things. Early on, the coaching staff seemed to be at a bit of a loss as to how to utilize both quarterbacks, but they've sorted that out now. The offensive line was also disorganized early on, but they've now
pulled together and started to play the way they were expected to. Defensively, the starting eleven at the dawn of the season was pretty much set by seniority and suffered from a crippling case of the slows; now some of the younger guys who have some speed have horned their way into steady playing time. All of that added together is a pretty good recipe for a turnaround.
HawkeyedFrog: Kansas State has worked two quarterbacks in, with Jake Waters as the thrower who'll occasionally run and Daniel Sams as the runner who'll occasionally throw. Will coach Snyder try and fuse them together to remake Colin Klein in the offseason, or are you guys happy with the 2 QB system?
Jon: There are some folks who simply won't be happy until they wake up one morning to discover Jake Waters was just a bad dream, but in general the fanbase seems to be pleased with how things are finally coming together
with the system. Key factor here is that rotating the two severely diminishes the punishment they absorb; there is no way Sams could handle the rushing load Collin Klein did, and Waters has a tendency to become less effective late in games if he hasn't been spelled sufficiently.
HawkeyedFrog: The Wildcats have impressed quite a bit on defense, holding Baylor to a season low of points and keeping Tech to its second lowest point total (after TCU). This came as a big shock to me, as with K-State's huge losses to graduation last year I thought the defense would take a huge step back- who has been breaking out for the Kansas State defense this year and how will they murder us on Saturday?
Jon: This came as a shock to me when it was pointed out on Sunday, but on a purely statistical basis DE Ryan Mueller is having a better year than Jadaveon Clowney had last year. Stop and think about that for awhile (Ed. Why are you trying to make us sadder?), and then consider that Mueller is a walk-on who's somehow discovered the
secret of Beast Mode. If there's one guy who's going to make Saturday hell for the TCU offense, he's the one. CB Kip Daily has been fantastic as well, and while the linebacking corps certainly isn't making anyone forget Arthur Brown, they've recovered from a poor start to be quite effective. Throw in some good work by Mike Moore and the presence of senior Ty Zimmerman, and we're pretty pleased with the effort.
HawkeyedFrog: Bill Snyder has a reputation for being a wizard who transforms two stars and juco transfers into bowl outfits with dark magic, but I've thought that's a little dismissive of his actual coaching ability. How good of a job has Snyder done this year, and how long do you think he'll stick around to coach?
Jon: It's not just dismissive of his coaching ability, it's dismissive of the actual talent on the field. I could get into an entire sermon on the recruit ranking system here, but the reality is that it's not so much that Snyder goes out and finds two-star talent and turns them into Grown Men. It's that he's able to go find kids who actually ARE four-star
talent but who, for some reason, aren't being acknowledged as such.
That said... we've actually got some questions about how well Snyder has coached the team this year, or at least how well he coached them in August and September... or, at least, how well the team was being coached in-game. Obviously, few coaches have ever prepared a team as well as Snyder. But the first month of the season was drowning in questionable in-game decisions. As for how long he'll be around, nobody really knows. I personally have a sneaking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, Snyder's goal is to stick around for win #200. That'll take him
through 2016, assuming things don't fall apart.
HawkeyedFrog: K-State runs the kind of offense that TCU should run- ground focused to set up a highly efficient passing attack. TCU has been stout against the run so far this year (at least early in games), will that force the Wildcats to change the gameplan or will you just keep running until the defense is worn out?
Jon: I am almost certain we won't see K-State try to do against TCU what they did against Texas Tech. That was an instance where Tech's weakness against the run and K-State's superiority on the line of scrimmage were patently obvious; in effect, Tech's resume pretty much amounted to an open invitation for K-State to just run until Tech proved they could stop someone (ed. New candidate for the TCU Playcaller job- whoever is doing it at K-State now). Against TCU, I expect it to be almost the opposite. Although no Snyder team is going to come out looking to throw for 400 yards, I think it's going to be of paramount importance to establish the pass in order to open the run against the Frog defense.
HawkeyedFrog: Finally we come to prediction time. What's your pick for Saturday's game and how do you see the Wildcats finishing up the season?
Jon: This could be a pretty ugly game. Whether K-State can get the offense firing against the Frogs is the biggest question. I'll go conservative here: 24-17 K-State. As for the rest of the season, I'm pretty confident the Wildcats will win out. It makes the struggles in September that much more painful, as this team could easily be 9-2 or 10-1 right now.
HawkeyedFrog: Our thanks to Jon for answering the questions and being incredibly polite even when he was having internet issues. Be sure to check out our purple brothers take on this game over at Bring On The Cats this week and every other week in our long bowl-less offseason. The commenters over at BOTC may just be my favorites in the Big 12 and they have a great respect for both TCU and Patterson- maybe they'll even tell us the secret to beating Baylor to work on in the Bye Week.