Miami-Kansas St. Preview
Kansas State got off to a sluggish start before running away in its season opener with an explosive fourth quarter.
The No. 21 Wildcats likely won't have the same luxury against Miami, which could prove difficult to contain if Duke Johnson's debut is any indication.
Looking for its ninth consecutive win in September, Kansas State will do its best to slow Johnson down on Saturday in Manhattan as it faces the Hurricanes for the second straight year.
The Wildcats (1-0) were limited to three first-half field goals Saturday against FCS opponent Missouri State, and led 16-9 after three quarters before scoring five touchdowns over the final 15 minutes en route to a 51-9 win.
"I did not think there would be any generation gap, but I am beginning to believe there is," coach Bill Snyder said. "It seems like we are not very good at explaining what we are talking about. I am going to tell the team to have a really slow start next week and see what happens.
"There was just a plethora of issues. We played poorly the first half; we played better the second half. It was that simple."
Another lackluster effort out of the gate could prove costly against Miami (1-0), which compiled 208 yards on the ground and 415 yards of total offense in Saturday's 41-32 win at Boston College. Stephen Morris completed 28 of 45 passes for 207 and a touchdown but it was Johnson who stole the show, breaking loose for 56- and 54-yard touchdown runs.
"I'm not going to broadcast myself or anything like that," said the freshman, who finished with 135 rushing yards on seven carries. "It's one game. I try to stay to myself always and not be into the scene and spotlight and things like that."
Though senior Mike James, who carried the ball 14 times for 54 yards, figures to continue to see a heavy workload, all eyes will be on Johnson come Saturday.
"He is a very dynamic young player, quite obviously," Snyder said. "The two long touchdown runs that he hit demonstrate a variety of different things - that he has good movement to him, he's got good vision, and beyond all he runs faster than most people in the world. So I was very impressed."
Kansas State has won 10 straight and 29 of its last 32 home games versus unranked foes, and Hurricanes coach Al Golden knows his team will have its hands full in this one.
"Clearly this week against Kansas State, we have a Herculean challenge out here," Golden said. "Excellent football team. Tough environment. Well-coached. Don't beat themselves."
While Kansas State - which has started at least 4-0 the past two seasons - remains focused on limiting Johnson, Miami is likely to get all it can handle from Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein. The senior completed 19 of 28 passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 54 rushing yards in his 2012 debut.
The Hurricanes need to shore up their pass defense quickly considering Boston College threw for 441 yards on Saturday, but Golden fears Klein's legs the most.
"He is good. I can't imagine there's a better running quarterback in the country," Golden said. "He's fast in terms of his top end speed - he'll make you miss - and then he'll run you over. His durability must be off the charts. He gets strong as the game goes on. We're going to have to get a lot of hats on him, and certainly account for him in our schemes this week."
The Hurricanes have experienced Klein's prowess first-hand. He threw for two scores Sept. 24, 2011, at Miami, adding another on the ground while rushing for 93 yards in a 28-24 road win.
John Hubert also came up huge for Kansas State in that game, rushing for a career-high 166 yards and a touchdown. The junior ran for 152 yards and a score last weekend.
Miami has lost 10 of its last 11 road games against Top 25 opponents dating to 2005.