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Midweek QB: K-State at Louisiana

Some of you may remember this series from last year, but for those who don't, here's a refresher course.  Me, Panjandrum, EMAW, and BracketCat give our opinion on what we want to see on offense, defense, special teams, the sidelines, and anything else in the upcoming game.  Remember, none of us are football coaches, and we certainly don't claim to be smarter than Bill Snyder, Vic Koenning, or any of K-State's other football coaches.  Still, we're fans and this is a blog where we discuss K-State-related issues, so here we go.

Click the jump for our thoughts.  Feel free to add your $.02 in the comments.

BracketCat: I'll just throw three things out there in order to get us started:

1. We have GOT to get a better push with our defensive line. One sack per game isn't going to cut it, and in my opinion, injuries are just an convenient excuse. The real problem is that we have lacked toughness for 3-5 years now and it hasn't been restored yet, at least not up front. What really scares me, though, is run defense. If anyone watched Colorado State blow holes through Colorado's front all game long, they also might have seen the stat about how CSU returned more collective starts on the offensive line than any team in the country. Well, Louisiana was second on the list (with 111), and we didn't exactly stop the running game well against them last season, even with Brandon Harold in there.

2. Grant Gregory has to play and he has to attempt some passes. We need to know what we have there. Carson Coffman's hook has to be extremely short at this point, doesn't it? And for God's sake, throw some passes Lamark Brown's way. Are we seriously going to waste him for four years?

3. Special teams, special teams, special teams. I'd even give up the blocked kicks if it means not giving up two easy touchdowns due to stupidity. Clean it up, stat.

EMAW: Not much to add that probably hasn't been said in the previous posts, so I'll attempt to keep it brief. Our effort on both sides of the ball was extremely laid back compared to what it will be by the time we hit Big 12 play. Snyder knew our defensive front was extremely thin without Harold and Crews available, which is why I think he chose to run the ball and control the clock. Granted, I wish we would have seen a few more big plays.
Coffman looked lost on several plays. He threw into coverage several times, while also failing to look at his secondary receivers on other occasions. His saving grace was how well he ran the option. No, he doesn't have the athleticism you'd want out of an option QB, but he read the defense well on the option runs. I think all K-State fans agree, he's on a short leash with the passing game. I tremble to think of his completion percentage against a faster, stronger secondary.
Louisiana is going to have a more hostile environment than many probably think. They put 41,000 in the seats for a game against Southern, so expect that or more when we come to town. I think this game will resemble the one we just finished. Close score, couple of mistakes, vanilla offense and a battle over control of the clock.
By the way, we are currently 25th in total defense. How about that for improvement? (written in sarcasm font)

BracketCat: FWIW, that 41,000 was achieved with the help of a ton of temporary bleachers. Apparently, they're trying to manufacture a rivalry with Southern or something like that.

The typical capacity of Cajun Field is 31,000 or so, and I expect closer to that for our game.

Otherwise, I agree on all points.

Panjandrum: Offense: Where to begin...

K-State is going to need to expand the playbook from the Tecmo Bowl sized offering we saw on Saturday to something a little more diverse.  I know that Coach Snyder likes to keep his playbook as hidden as possible until absolutely necessary, but Louisiana will be every bit the challenge UMass was...if nothing more than it being the first road game of the year.

I'd like to see more Grant Gregory in this game, because I think his involvement on zone read and option plays could allow KSU to primarily move the ball on the ground.  It's pretty apparent that KSU can move the ball if they utilize a basic QB run game, a small committee based rushing attack, and short, controlled passes to the TE and WR's.  This could be a pretty good ball control offense if KSU can force the defense to respect the weapons outside of the box, which was not the case in the second half of the last game.  Whether that was by design or by the limitations of the personnel in the game, I don't know, but a three-headed monster of Gregory/Thomas/Valentine running the ball in various formations could probably do some damage to the Louisiana running attack.

And, please, at least TRY to throw the football to Lamark Brown.  It's not like he's a small target out there, and he was open a few times last game.  I understand that Mastrud, Banks, and Snipes are all great receivers, but let's spread the wealth.

Defense: UMass dropped several catchable balls, so the defensive numbers in the last game were skewed.  KSU, if assignment sound, can do some nice things, but they have to make sure that they don't rely on the other team making mistakes to win.

The defensive line played pretty well on Saturday, all things considered.  This week, Louisiana returns an experienced group of linemen that really abused KSU last year, so it's up to them to make sure it doesn't happen again.  I like the tackling ability of this secondary, so I'm not really concerned about blowing tackles.  It will probably happen, but not at the level we saw last year.  I imagine that this will be an assignment sound group that will make plays on the ball.

I think KSU will bring a much improved defense to Louisiana this weekend, and the Cajuns will have a much more difficult time moving the ball.

Overall: KSU can control this game and get out of the Bayou with a win if they simply protect the football and limit mistakes.  KSU can't make mistakes on special teams, fumble the ball, and throw picks and expect to win.  Louisiana is going to line up behind their experienced offensive line and run right at KSU, so the defensive line is in for a stiff test.  If they can play assignment sound football and limit turnovers, they can win.

Yeah, that sounds simplistic, but this team needs to crawl before it can walk.  Baby steps.

TB: Obviously, I want to see more than "Daniel Thomas up the middle for one yard" in this game.  But with more practice time and experience for all concerned, I imagine that's likely.
There are two things I want to see from Carson Coffman.  First, I want to see him keep the ball on the zone read once in a while.  Against UMass, he never kept the ball on the zone read, and the defense picked up on that after a while.  Nobody will ever mistake Coffman for Michael Bishop or Ell Roberson, but he can hurt a defense with four or five yard pickups on the zone read when the defense doesn't respect him.  And when the defense has to account for that, it's more likely that Thomas or Keithen Valentine will have more room to maneuver the next time around. 
Second, I want to see Coffman stop relying on Jeron Mastrud so much.  As Panjandrum's dad said after the game, it looks like he locks on Mastrud because he's a big, reliable target in the middle.  That's fine, except when Brandon Banks, Attrail Snipes, or Lamark Brown are open down the field, and Coffman missed open receivers several times.
Defensively, we need to stop UL's running game cold.  The Cajuns lost their top running back and quarterback from last season, and only picked up 208 rushing yards against a marginal FCS team in Southern.  Our defensive line and linebackers need to be able to take care of the rushing game and make UL one-dimensional, and another couple picks from Tysyn Hartman wouldn't hurt.

BracketCat: Coffman also roomed with Mastrud for several years, including two floors below me the year I lived in Jardine. I think that accounts for some of the chemistry, too.