MANHATTAN — Following three straight losses, including a recent defeat to then No. 9 Oklahoma by a score of 35-42 Oct. 21 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, the K-State football team (3-4, 1-3 Big 12) is looking to get back in the win column as it travels to Lawrence for the latest iteration of the Sunflower Showdown series against Kansas (1-6, 0-4 Big 12).
Kansas is coming off of a historically bad outing against No. 4 TCU Oct. 21. Kansas fell to TCU by a final score of 0-43, and was only able to muster 21 total yards of offense. Despite that mark, Kansas accumulated over 400 yards of offense in each of its first four games this season. Kansas rushed for an average of 173.75 yards per game during those first four games. K-State head coach Bill Snyder talked about Kansas’ offense during his weekly press conference at the Vanier Family Football Complex in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon.
“Not only did (Kansas) run the ball (early), they threw it quite well. Their passing statistics for the first three ballgames were over 300 yards. They threw the ball quite well. From our standpoint, it still goes back to the same thing. You have to prepare for everything. It doesn’t matter who it is. Everybody can get everybody. If we’re thinking that because they didn’t get points on the board in the previous two ballgames they’ll be easier, we’ll be making a major mistake and get ourselves in serious trouble. They didn’t score a touchdown against TCU, but we didn’t either,” Snyder said.
Sophomore wide receiver Dalton Schoen, who grew up in Overland Park and went to high school at Blue Valley Northwest High School, talked about playing against Kansas.
“Being from Overland Park and being a K-State fan for my whole life, I’ve always want to go out there and beat (Kansas). I think it means a lot for everyone from the state of Kansas. It’s the home state rivalry game,” Schoen said.
Schoen noted that although Kansas has struggled mightily over the past few games, his team can’t overlook it.
“We know that we can’t overlook anyone, especially this game. It helps that it’s an in-state rivalry. It helps people want it that much more. (Kansas) has had some struggles, but they’re a good team. We’ve had some struggles this year. We have to go out and perform well and not take anything for granted against them,” Schoen said.
Sophomore quarterback Alex Delton noted that he isn’t trying to overlook Kansas.
“I take one week at a time. (Kansas) has some players on their defense that I’m focused on. They’re good ballplayers. They’ve shown they can make plays and they’ve made plays. I don’t by any stretch try to overlook Kansas or any team. I take things week-by-week and just go from there,” Delton said.
While Kansas’ defense has struggled at times this season, it contains a good deal of talent. Up front, it contains Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., as well as junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise, who can both rush the passer and disrupt an offensive line. In the middle, it has junior linebacker Joe Dineen, who leads the conference in tackles with 88. Sophomore defensive back Mike Lee ranks No. 12 in the conference with 52 tackles. Delton talked about Kansas’ defense.
“They have playmakers on their defense. They have a few guys in the secondary and up front that are as good as anybody we’ve seen in the league. They’ve shown that. They’ve made plays. We can’t take Kansas’ defense for granted. They’ve been on the field a lot these past two weeks, but they’re a solid defensive unit. They’re going to give us their best shot,” Delton said.
Snyder gave his assessment of Kansas’ defense.
“They have some very fine players, players we’ve played against and know
what their capacity of good performance happens to be. Their defense is well put together. I can appreciate the way they play. When you’re not doing well collectively, it tends to wear on you a little bit, and we’re experiencing that as well, but I think they play hard. They’ve got good physical talent, they have some speed, they can run around on the back end. They have some experience at the linebacker position that have been on the field against us for the last two, three years. They’ve got an edge rusher who has some range to him, can get up and disrupt passes and is a pretty good pass rush guy as well. They have the capacity to be a good defensive football team,” Snyder said.
Snyder noted that senior quarterback Jesse Ertz may be available to play Saturday. Ertz sat out the previous two games with an injury. Delton noted that he isn’t certain that he will start Saturday.
“That’s coach’s decision. I’m not sure. I think (Ertz) has been doing well. He’s getting better and better. I’ve always tried to put myself in the starter’s shoes and prepare like I’m the starter. You’re always one play away,” Delton said.
K-State will kick off against Kansas at 2 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence.