Cowboys’ speed will test Kansas St

When a team with little speed on defense prepares for one of the

fastest, most prolific offenses in the country, it naturally hopes

to catch a few lucky breaks.

And maybe Kansas State, whose heavy-footed defense has been

eaten alive by No. 14 Nebraska (48-13) and No. 25 Baylor (47-42)

has done just that.

The Wildcats (5-2 overall, 2-2 Big 12) will host No. 20 Oklahoma

State (6-1, 2-1) on Saturday, facing a quarterback, running back

and wide receiver who have already combined for more than 2,000

yards passing, 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards receiving. The

good news for Kansas State is that wide receiver Justin Blackmon,

the nation’s leader, was suspended this week for his arrest on a

misdemeanor DUI charge.

That removes one weapon from Oklahoma State’s arsenal. As Bill

Snyder is quick to point out, that still leaves the Cowboys’ quiver

bristling with arrows, including quarterback Brandon Weeden. He

leads the nation in passing yards.

”What’s he throwing for, 349 yards per game?” said the Kansas

State coach.

It also leaves running back Kendall Hunter. He’s second in the

nation and first in the Big 12 in total rushing yards (1,031) and

rushing touchdowns. And that’s not to mention place kicker Dan

Bailey, who’s been perfect on 15 field goal attempts, or punter

Quinn Sharp, who leads the country in punting with an average of

more than 48 yards.

For Blackmon to miss the game seems almost the fair thing to

do.

”Leading passer, leading rusher, leading punter, leading

kicker, leading offense. You name it, they’ve got it,” said

Snyder. ”They’re pretty proficient at what they do and who they do

it with.”

The Wildcats could become bowl eligible with a victory. The

Cowboys (6-1, 2-1) have bigger plans. Their 51-41 shootout loss to

Nebraska last week did not remove them from the major bowl picture,

or their quest for a Big 12 championship.

”We put up 41 points against Nebraska and they’re a great

defense,” said Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Cooper. ”There

are just some key things we have to get better on and execute our

game plan better. We did really well, though, against Nebraska and

I feel like we can put up some points against a lot of teams.”

Kansas State has had difficulty all year with quick-hitting

offenses. Snyder has admitted the Wildcats lack speed.

But they’ll also have to guard against overreaching by the

offense.

”With the kind of points that Oklahoma State has been putting

up, we feel a little bit of pressure to put up quite a few points

as well,” said quarterback Carson Coffman.

The Baylor Bears broke several team records on offense last week

against Kansas State.

”We had some people out of position at times and when you do

that, it creates the opportunity for a big play,” Snyder said.

”If 10 guys are playing reasonably well and one guy makes a

mistake, you’ve got a problem.”

The Wildcats are not without weapons of their own. Running back

Daniel Thomas, the Big 12’s leading returning rusher, is averaging

almost 128 yards per game and trails only Hunter in the

conference.

”He is big and he is very athletic,” said Oklahoma State

defensive coordinator Bill Young. ”He threw a touchdown pass,

which I think was against Baylor. He was a quarterback in high

school so he has that ability to throw the ball. He is the full

package.”