Two Charlotte coaches return to Kansas State (Sep 09, 2017)

The old expression might be, “you can’t go home again,” but for Charlotte head football coach Brad Lambert and his defensive coordinator, Matt Wallerstedt, maybe it should be, “you can go home again, but it probably won’t be a lot of fun.”

Lambert played at Kansas State from 1983-86. He was an academic all-Big 8 selection from 1984-86 and was a second-team all-Big 8 defensive back in 1986. Wallerstedt played linebacker for the Wildcats during that same era.

Now the two men will lead the Charlotte 49ers into Manhattan for a match-up with No. 19 Kansas State on Saturday. Kansas State is loaded on offense, and the defense is stout too. It won’t be easy for Charlotte in just its third season in FBS.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been back there for a game,” Lambert said. “The place is completely different. They’ve added a lot to the stadium and built a new building in the end zone. Coach Wallerstedt coached there (in the mid-2000s), so he’s got a real good feel for the environment that’s there on game day.

“It’s going to be emotional; my dad is going to be there, and I’m looking forward to that. It’s really about these guys and the play on the field. It’s a good opportunity for our guys to go out there and knock somebody off.”

It won’t be a reunion for Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, as he took over the moribund program after the 1988 season. But he still has tremendous respect for the job Lambert and his staff have done in building the program at Charlotte.

“From a defensive standpoint, they are a physical team up front,” Snyder said. “They have athletic players in the back end that can get up and press on your wide receivers. They have a physical secondary in that respect. Schematically, they are sound. They are a bigger blitz team than what we have seen.

“From an offensive standpoint, I like the progress that they have made with their offensive line. They have a mobile offensive line that runs well. They have a good running back that can run downhill well, but the key to their offense is the quarterback. He is very talented. He is probably a 4.6 (second 40-yard dash) or better. He has good range and runs well. They have option football, which was a nemesis for us last week. We have got to work that out, and that is just becoming more responsible in regards to what one’s responsibility happens to be.”

Kansas State is coming off a 55-19 season-opening victory over Central Arkansas. The game was close midway through the second quarter before K-State ran off 21 straight points to close the first half. KSU outscored Central Arkansas 38-3 from that point.

Kansas State was led by quarterback Jesse Ertz, who had the best passer rating for a single game (319.8) in the school’s history. He threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against the Bears. Three of Ertz’s touchdowns went for more than 50 yards, and not just because receivers gained a lot of yards after the catch. He frequently found receivers behind the Bears’ secondary.

Lambert knows that his team has to be almost perfect to beat the Wildcats.

“It’s a huge opportunity for us to go on the road and play a team like Kansas State,” Lambert said. “They’ve got really good players, and it’s an explosive football team. They won’t beat themselves. You’ve got to go out there and beat them.”

The KSU defense gave up 201 yards on the ground against Central Arkansas, but Snyder is confident that will be corrected by Saturday.

“Some of the bootleg-type plays and misdirected passes were something we had difficulty with,” he said. “The fact that the young guy completed 77 percent of his passes was a substantial number against us. I do not want us to have that kind of difficulty.

“It is more difficult for young people (to improve throughout the season). If they have that passion for the game and being the best they can be and buy into the process of daily improvement, then it manages itself pretty well. Normally, there are some dips in the road as you go, but if you start here and end up here, that is a very positive direction.”

Charlotte lost its opener, 24-7 at Eastern Michigan. While the defense gave up big yards on the ground and through the air, the offense was hampered by three turnovers and 11 penalties.

Red-shirt junior quarterback Hasaan Klugh rushed for a career-high 101 yards. Trent Bostick caught his 10th career touchdown for Charlotte’s only score, and senior linebacker Karrington King recorded 10 tackles to close in on Charlotte’s all-time record. Jeff Gemmell led the 49ers with 14 tackles.