On the heels of a 48-27 win over Louisiana last week, Kansas State will wrap up the non-conference portion of its schedule on Saturday as Massachusetts visits Manhattan and Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game is slated for a 6 p.m., kickoff and will be televised world-wide on K-StateHD.TV. Wyatt Thompson will call the action on the K-State Sports Network with Stan Weber providing color analysis and Matt Walters giving sideline updates. A free live audio broadcast is available at k-statesports.com and on SIRIUS satellite radio channel 112. Additionally, K-State Gameday, hosted by Brian Smoller and former Wildcat great Kevin Lockett, will begin at 5 p.m., on K-StateHD.TV. For more information on K-StateHD.TV, the nation’s No. 1-ranked high definition digital network, visit www.k-statehd.tv. Live stats will also be available, while Twitter updates (@kstatesports and @kstate_gameday), in-game highlights on facebook.com/kstatesports and a live in-game blog will all be a part of the gameday coverage. Following two sellout crowds of 53,000-plus, Bill Snyder Family Stadium is expected to be at full capacity again Saturday evening.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
The Wildcats grounded out four rushing touchdowns and added a kickoff return and interception return for a touchdown to run past Louisiana last week, 48-27, for the squad’s first win of the 2013 campaign. Quarterbacks Jake Waters and Daniel Sams had solid games as Waters threw for 250 yards in the first half, while Sams provided a spark with 63 rushing yards and a touchdown on just eight carries. Tyler Lockett recorded his second straight 100-yard receiving game with 111 yards on eight catches, and Curry Sexton added six receptions for 46 yards. On defense, linebackers Jonathan Truman (18) and Blake Slaughter (17) continue to lead the squad in tackles, while defensive end Ryan Mueller has been the most consistent Wildcat up front this season. The former walk-on has 4.0 tackles for loss on the season with 2.0 sacks to go along with his 13 total tackles. The special teams units took giant leaps in week two as Tramaine Thompson provided a lift with a 94-yard kick return for a score to open the second half, giving K-State a kick return TD in each of the last nine seasons, a streak that currently leads the nation. Thompson also added a 79-yard punt return that set up another score as the Cats enter the week No. 1 nationally in that category.
A LOOK AT THE OPPONENT: UMASS
UMass, a member of the MAC, heads to Manhattan this weekend looking for its first win of the 2013 season after opening up the season with losses to Wisconsin and Maine. The Minutemen have averaged 238.5 yards per game on offense (156.5 through the air) while opponents are gaining 320.0 yards per game on the ground and 236.0 per contest through the air. Quarterback Mike Wegzyn has completed 22-of-48 passes for 212 yard and a score with two interceptions. His top target is Tajae Sharpe who has 12 receptions for 98 yards with one touchdown. The squad’s leading rusher is Stacey Bedell who has gained 128 yards on 35 carries through two games.
K-State has been one of the most dominant teams nationally in terms of non-conference success, especially under head coach Bill Snyder. Since 1990, K-State has won 66 of its 74 (.892) regular-season non-conference games under Snyder, including winning 57 of 60 (.950) at home during that stretch. K-State, which has had perfect regular season non-conference ledgers 14 times in the last 20 years, was perfect in the non-conference each of the last three seasons. The Cats three-year streak is the best since winning all regular-season non-conference games from 1993-2002. The season-opening setback to North Dakota State was the first home opener Snyder has dropped since 1989 and the first FCS opponent to knock off the Cats since that same season.
CLOSING IN ON 175
One of the longest-tenured active coaches in the nation, Bill Snyder is approaching victory No. 175 of his career. After guiding K-State from 1989 to 2005, and again over the last four seasons, the 2012 Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year has accumulated the fourth-most victories at FBS-only schools among all active coaches. Snyder, who ranks 50th all-time in victories at four-year institutions, can become the 46th coach ever to reach the 175-win plateau but just the 11th ever to do so at only one school.
LOOKING FOR MORE
Kansas State has had success coming off bowl seasons, most notably under head coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats had played in 15 bowl games in program history prior to last year, and Kansas State has followed a bowl season with another postseason berth on 12 occasions, each coming under Snyder. The only three times K-State had a losing season following a bowl trip occurred in 1983 (3-8) after the 1982 Independence Bowl, in 2004 after the Fiesta Bowl (4-7) and in 2007 (5-7) after the 2006 Texas Bowl. K-State will be looking to make its fourth-straight bowl appearance for the first time since the end of an 11-year bowl stretch in 2003.
SNYDER IN SEPTEMBER
Fast starts have propelled the Wildcats to winning seasons under Bill Snyder. Since 1992 under Snyder, K-State is a combined 56-5 (.918) in games played during the month of September. Of the five losses, three came on the road, as the Cats are 44-2 in September home games during that stretch.
HOME SWEET HOME
Few teams in college football have taken care of their home field as well as the Wildcats since the start of the 1990 season. Over the past 23 years, K-State is an amazing 125-28-1 (.814) when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, including a 65-4 (.941) record in non-conference games and a 62-24-1 (.718) mark in league games (combined Big 8/12). The Wildcats have gone 23-5 at home since Snyder’s return in 2009, including a 14-2 mark over the last two-plus seasons.
RECORD NUMBERS AT BILL SNYDER FAMILY STADIUM
A new tradition was born when head coach Bill Snyder returned for his second tenure roaming the sidelines for the Wildcats as the K-State Family Reunion game was introduced for the 2009 season opener. The contest against UMass was a huge success as it was the largest crowd in school history for a home opener at the time with 50,750 fans pouring into Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Fans also came out in droves the last four seasons, including this year’s season opener with North Dakota State which drew a season-opening record crowd of 53,351. That mark was also good enough for the second-largest mark to ever watch a Wildcat game in Manhattan. With a record 43,000-plus season tickets sold for this season, and two crowds so far of 53,000-plus, K-State is on track to set new school records for number of sellouts and total attendance for a season.
CATS CONTINUE CONSECUTIVE SCORING STREAK
Kansas State extended one of the nation’s longest scoring streaks last week as the Wildcats have now tallied points in 205 consecutive games. The 205-game stretch is the eighth-longest in the nation and the second-longest in the Big 12. The Wildcats have not been kept off the scoreboard since Colorado shut out K-State, 12-0, on Nov. 16, 1996. The streak includes 133 conference games, 74 true road games and 18 neutral-site contests.
DRAWING FIRST BLOOD
Scoring first has been a big sign of good things to come for the Wildcats. Since 1990, K-State’s record when scoring first is very impressive as the Wildcats have gone 140-26 (.843) when drawing first blood. Last season, K-State was a perfect 6-0 when scoring the game’s first points and is 1-0 so far in 2013.
There is no better indicator of a Wildcat victory than when K-State leads or is tied at the half. Since 1990, the Cats have protected a halftime lead in 160 of its last 165 (.970) games when leading at the half. Last season, Kansas State went 10-0 when leading at the half and held the advantage last week.
PLAYING KEEP AWAY
Kansas State has been on the positive side of the ledger in terms of time of possession over the last two seasons, ranking fourth (33:56) and 17th (32:03) nationally in 2011 and 2012, respectively. K-State, which has ranked in the top two of the Big 12 in each of the last two seasons, is 19-4 dating back to 2011 when controlling the clock and possessing the ball more than its opponent. Last week, the Wildcats got back on top in controlling the ball with 32:20 of possession time.
K-State was one of the best in the country last season in converting on third downs as the Wildcats ranked second in the Big 12 and seventh nationally by moving the sticks 50-percent (80-of-160) of the time on third down. Kansas State, which improved its conversion percentage by 8-percent from the 2011 season, was able to spread the ball out when it counted most as 11 different players converted on third down in 2012. After converting on just 2-of-10 third downs against North Dakota State, K-State converted on 8-of-14 third-down chances against Louisiana.
RED ZONE ALERT
Not only has Kansas State been able to possess the ball and sustain long drives over the course of the last two seasons, but the offense has managed to make the most of those opportunities once it has reached the red zone. Of K-State’s last 138 trips inside its opponent’s 20-yard line dating back to 2011, the Wildcats have scored on 124 of those trips, with 93 of those being touchdowns. Over the course of the last 24 regular season games, the Wildcats are 113-of-124 in the red zone with 88 touchdowns. Additionally, the Cats are 72-for-79 in red zone chances with 54 touchdowns in their last 15 wins dating back to 2011 with four of those non-scoring trips coming via a kneel down in the final minute of a game.
When the Wildcat defense picks off two or more passes, K-State usually comes out with a victory. Over the last 25 contests that the Wildcats have recorded two or more interceptions, Kansas State is 20-5, including a 4-1 record last year. The Wildcats tied for second in the Big 12 and 12th nationally with 18 interceptions last season, the second-straight season K-State picked off 18 passes. Ty Zimmerman, who had five interceptions last year, now has 11 interceptions to tie for sixth in school history and needs four more to tie the school record. Zimmerman’s pick last week was returned 32 yards for his first career score.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
In the Wildcats’ season opener against North Dakota State, the K-State defense managed to make 10 stops behind the line of scrimmage - which included three sacks - for the first time since the 2012 KU game and the first time in a season opener since the 2010 debut. The Wildcats added four more against Louisiana as Ryan Mueller (4.0) and Blake Slaughter (2.0) have combined for six of the 14 stops.
KEY TO SUCCESS
A big part of K-State’s success over the past two seasons has been attributed to the discipline and fundamentals that head coach Bill Snyder and his coaching staff have instilled in the program. During last year’s Big 12 Championship season, K-State led the Big 12 and ranked third in the nation in turnover margin (+19), ranked second in the league and fourth nationally in fewest penalties (49 total) and also ranked second in the conference in time of possession (32:03). The Wildcats made the most of the turnovers forced last season, converting them into a nation-leading 142 points.
TOP TURNOVER MARGIN
K-State showed the ability to force turnovers at a high clip in 2012, which was evidenced by the fact that the Wildcats forced multiple turnovers in 10 of 13 games. In fact, K-State’s +19 (31 turnovers forced, 12 turnovers surrendered) turnover margin in 2012 ranked third nationally, while the Wildcats’ 12 turnovers surrendered tied for the fourth fewest in the nation. To take it a step further, the Wildcats turned their 31 forced turnovers into 149 points, while K-State’s opponents scored just 24 points following a Wildcat turnover - both figures that topped in the nation. So far in 2013, K-State is -2 in turnover margin with four interceptions to two interceptions gained.
KICKOFF RETURN STREAK
K-State has ranked among the nation’s best on special teams under Bill Snyder, especially as it relates to kickoff returns. In fact, following Tramaine Thompson’s 94-yard dash against Louisiana the Wildcats have returned a kick for a score at least once in each of the last nine seasons, which currently ranks as the longest streak in the nation. Louisiana Tech has done so in each of the last seven years, while Auburn and Central Florida currently have streaks of six straight seasons.
The rise of K-State football over the last three decades has much to do with the emphasis on special teams. Since 1990, Kansas State is 49-15 when scoring on special teams and 19-1 when scoring on special teams and on defense, including a 17-0 mark under Bill Snyder. And, in non-offensive touchdowns, the Cats are the nation’s best over the past 14 seasons. Since 1999, the Wildcats rank first nationally in non-offensive touchdowns with 89. K-State had six non-offensive touchdowns last season. Tyler Lockett led the way with a pair of kickoff-return scores (vs. North Texas and Oklahoma State), while Tramaine Thompson returned a punt for a score against Missouri State, Jarell Childs returned a fumble for a touchdown at Oklahoma, and Arthur Brown (Texas Tech) and Allen Chapman (Oklahoma State) returned an interception for scores. In 2013, the Wildcats have recorded two with Thompson’s kick return (Louisiana) and Ty Zimmerman’s interception return (Louisiana).
Following the 2013 spring game, head coach Bill Snyder named five captains for the 2013 season as B.J. Finney, Tyler Lockett, Blake Slaughter, Tre Walker and Ty Zimmerman earned the nod. Finney is a two-time captain and was the youngest offensive player and first non-senior offensive lineman captain since 2002 when he was elected last year. Walker and Zimmerman are also in their second years, while Lockett and Slaughter are serving as captains for the first time in their careers.
Quarterback Jake Waters entered 2013 known for his throwing abilities and he has not disappointed through the first two games. The community-college transfer from Iowa Western has been on point to start the season as he has totaled 588 passing yards to rank 22nd nationally, while his 21.5 completions per game rank 29th. In terms of K-State history, his two 250-yard passing games to start the season were the first since Josh Freeman in 2007 (268 at Auburn and 272 vs. San Jose State), while his 43 completions in the first two games are the most since Freeman had 57 to begin the 2007 season.
SAMS I AM
Sophomore quarterback Daniel Sams dazzled last season in the running game as he rushed for 235 yards, the most ever by a freshman quarterback in school history, and had three touchdowns. It has been more of the same in 2013 as he leads the team with 80 rushing yards and is tied for team-high honors with two rushing touchdowns. Sams ran 17 yards for a score against North Dakota State and had a 13-yard scamper for a touchdown against Louisiana a year after scoring two in the season opener against Missouri State and another against Miami.
HUBERT REACHES 2,000-YARD PLATEAU
Following two years of 900-plus yard rushing seasons, senior John Hubert joined an exclusive club against Louisiana as he eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing barrier, the ninth player in school history to reach the milestone. Hubert, who entered the school’s career top-10 list against North Dakota State, needs 159 yards to pass Isaac Jackson (1971-73) for eighth place in school history.
FINDING THE END ZONE
Not only has John Hubert put up big numbers in terms of yards, but the Waco, Texas, product has also scored touchdowns on a consistent basis. Hubert scored two last week against Louisiana, giving him 20 in his career. He needs two more to tie J.J. Smith (1991-94) for 10th all-time at K-State and three to tie Michael Bishop (1997-98) and Mack Herron (1968-69) for eighth.
THOMPSON ACCOMPLISHES RARE FEAT
When senior Tramaine Thompson returned last week’s second-half opening kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, the wide receiver became just the third player in school history to score touchdowns via a rush, reception, punt return and kickoff return. Thompson, who has six touchdown receptions, returned a punt 89 yards in last year’s season opener against Missouri State. His rushing touchdown occurred by happenstance as he recovered a fumble in the end zone in the first overtime against Texas A&M in 2011. With that being chalked up as a rushing score, Thompson’s kickoff-return score allowed him to join Mack Herron (1968-69) and Yamon Figurs (2004-06) in the exclusive category. For his efforts, Thompson was named the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week and earned a spot on the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll.
THE MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Junior center B.J. Finney is the true testament that hard work pays off. A former walk-on from Andale, Kan., Finney impressed during his redshirt season of 2010 and has started every game over the last two-plus seasons, including the last 27 games at center. Finney, who anchors an offensive line that boasts 83 combined career starts, is a preseason candidate for the Rimington and Outland trophies as well as the Lombardi Award.
GOING... GOING... GONE
Tyler Lockett may have taken teams by surprise as a freshman in kickoff returns by tallying a 35.2-yard average with two touchdowns, but the speedster has continued to excel in that specialty as he remains first nationally in career kickoff-return average among active players and currently sits atop the Big 12 record book. He ranks over a yard better than every other play nationally, while he is currently 4.4 yards better than the player second on the all-time Big 12 list, former Wildcat Brandon Banks. Lockett, whose four return touchdowns are one shy of the school career record held by Banks, has two of the four 100-yard returns in school history as he had one at Texas Tech in 2011 before taking one the distance last season against Oklahoma State.
A THREAT AT RECEIVER AS WELL
Aside from his kick-return abilities, Tyler Lockett has also turned into one of the best threats at wide receiver in the Big 12. The Tulsa, Okla., product ranks second in the conference and 22nd nationally with 224 receiving yards during the first two weeks of the season. Lockett carded 113 yards in week one against North Dakota State and came back with 111 more last week to become the first Wildcat with consecutive 100-yard games since Aubrey Quarles in 2010. If Lockett is able to tally another 100-yard game against UMass, he would be the first Wildcat with three-straight since Jordy Nelson put together fourth-straight in 2007. In addition, Lockett’s performance to begin the year has put him at 1,157 career receiving yards to become the 27th player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau. Lockett is now on a list that includes his father Kevin (1st; 3,032) and his uncle Aaron (4th; 2,400).
GETTING HIS SHOT
Used as a pass-rush specialist each of the last two seasons, junior defensive end Ryan Mueller has made his first two career starts count. The Leawood, Kan., product ranks fourth on the team with 13 tackles, including four that have gone for 18 yards of loss and two sacks. Mueller, who had three TFLs in week one and a 10-yard sack against Louisiana, ranks ninth nationally in TFLs. Throughout his career, Mueller has consistently been around the ball as he came into the season with seven passes defended and three fumble recoveries.
PLAYING CENTER FIELD
Senior All-American safety Ty Zimmerman picked off his 11th career pass last week against Louisiana and returned it 32 yards for his first-career touchdown. A candidate for four major awards and a Preseason All-Big 12 selection, Zimmerman’s 11 picks are tied for sixth in school history, while he now has 178 interception return yards rank fourth. Zimmerman, who has 38 career starts to rank fifth nationally among active players, can also reach another milestone this week as he needs seven tackles to become the 51st player in school history with 200 stops.
FOR THE GOOD OF THE TEAM
Linebacker Blake Slaughter, who was a four-game starter in 2010, is back this season after electing to redshirt the 2012 campaign while playing behind All-American Arthur Brown. Slaughter used the year off to improve and has started the 2013 season on fire totaling 17 tackles - the fifth most in the Big 12 - to go along with a pair of sacks. The unselfishness he displayed by redshirting last year was rewarded as his teammates elected him a team captain prior to the 2013 campaign.
THE TRUMAN SHOW
Junior Jonathan Truman made his mark last year on special teams by leading the Wildcats with nine tackles on kickoffs and three on punts. The former walk-on from Kechi, Kan., earned a starting nod at linebacker in 2013 and has performed well as he leads the team with 18 tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss.
BARNETT IN THE BACKFIELD
Sophomore safety Dante Barnett was thrown into the fire last year as he replaced an injured Ty Zimmerman for the final two regular-season contests. That experience helped Barnett as he has started each of the first two games of 2013 alongside Zimmerman. In week one against North Dakota State, Barnett turned in a seven-tackle performance, including one for a loss, while he also carded his first-career interception. He backed that up with a team-leading nine stops last week against Louisiana.