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Cats to be Challenged by Speedy Knights

By Mark Janssen
 
 
Kansas State is hoping that a couple trends continue and another ends today when the Wildcats host the Knights of Central Florida at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
 
Trend 1: K-State has won its three collective first quarters by a 17-0 count against UCLA, Missouri State and Iowa State.
 
Asked how pleased he was with that statistic, Wildcat coach Bill Snyder semi-quipped, "It's like asking whether I'd rather be dead or alive. I'd rather win than lose. Whatever it is (17-0) is better than the alternative."

Trend 2: While the Wildcats have been decent starters, Central Florida has proven to be ultra strong finishers, having won their three fourth periods by a score of 35-0.
 
"We know they'll fight until the end," said K-State linebacker Blake Slaughter. "That means we have to play for 60 minutes, because we know they will."
 
Trend 3: K-State is playing for a 4-0 start to the season in the 11:30 a.m. kickoff. It would mark the first such beginning to a year dating back to the 2003 season when the Wildcats won 11 games, which included the Big 12 championship.
 
With a 3-0 start already secured, Snyder says he'll be interested to see "... if we can learn how to build on a certain degree of success."
 
Snyder was referring to winning four-of-five games during the middle part of the 2009 season but then finishing with three losses in the final four weeks of the season.
 
To that, defensive end Antonio Felder says, "I do not expect anyone on this team to lose focus. We are trying to go 1-0 every week, and this week is no exception."
 
Slaughter added, "I can promise you that we are only looking to this week and not to any other. We're going to have to bring our A game and play with discipline."
 
To win, containing Central Florida's team speed will be a must, which starts with 5-foot-11 freshman quarterback Jeff Godfrey, who has completed 68-percent of his passes, but for only 101 yards per game. He has rushed for an average of 35 yards per game.
 
"We are going to have to do a lot of bull-rushing and try to get to the outside before he does to keep him contained," said Felder. "That will be the key to the game, because he is a very fast quarterback."
 
And, Jonathan Davis is a very fast running back who has accounted for an additional 50 yards per game, helping the Knights control the clock for over 32 minutes per contest.
 
Defensively, UCF has allowed just 262 yards per game. Against the pass, opponents have completed only 43-percent and for a measly 4.9 yards per passing attempt. The Knights have eight quarterback sacks, plus 15 other tackles for negative yards in their first three games.
 
"Tough is a good word to use in describing the totality of their program and certainly their defense, whether it is against the run or against the pass," said Snyder. "They have not only been proficient, but they run hard, play hard, and they play fast and will hit you. They are an aggressive defensive football team."
 
While the challenge is mighty, quarterback Carson Coffman said, "Going 4-0 would be huge for us. Our team motto for this year has been to be 1-0 in every practice and 1-0 in every game."
 
THE SCORES
Kansas State (3-0): K-State 31, UCLA 22; K-State 48, Missouri State 24; K-State 27, Iowa State 20
 
Central Florida (2-1): UCF 38, South Dakota 7; North Carolina State 28, UCF 21; UCF 24, Buffalo 10
 
SERIES NOTES: This will be the first game in this series ... UCF is 0-3 in all-time games against the Big 12, losing to NU in 1997 and to Texas in 2007 and 2009 ... the only time the Knights have played in the state of Kansas was in 1986 at Wichita State.
 
UPDATING MR. THOMAS: Rivals.com's rankings by position has Daniel Thomas as the No. 1 running back in the nation, ahead of Alabama's Mark Ingram.
 
Thomas ranks first in the Big 12 and second in the nation in rushing with his 184-yard average. Thomas also ranks fifth in the nation in all-purpose yardage (189) and 11th in scoring (12.00).
 
Not bad for a guy Bill Snyder first looked at as a quarterback.
 
"I just did not feel like he would be able to throw the football as well as you would like at that position. He had capabilities to do a lot of other things," said the K-State coach of deciding Thomas would be best suited as a running back. "When I saw him on videotape, it was apparent that he could run the ball, yet there were questions about his ability to throw the ball, and how well he could throw it to be a Division I-A quarterback."
 
While a school like Oklahoma recruited Thomas to be a safety, Snyder quipped, "I don't think I'd make anybody very happy if I lined him up at safety today. Daniel would take it in stride, but a whole bunch of other people would not."
 
QUOTEABLE QUOTE: On Daniel Thomas' willingness to do whatever to help the team, Snyder said, "If you told Daniel to play offensive tackle, he'd say, 'Show me what to do.' That's the way he is."
 
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING: Many coaches around the country will be wearing Coach to Cure MD patches today to raise awareness and funding for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. Fans are encouraged to donate online at www.CoachtoCureMD.org or donate $5 by texting CURE to 90999.
 
FOR THE RECORD
• Snyder indicated that Emmanuel Lamur would likely be able to play after missing the Iowa State game due to an undisclosed injury. He also said Clyde Aufner would be getting more snaps after missing early-season play due to an injury. Aufner did play a handful of snaps against Iowa State last week.

• On hand today to be recognized between the first and second quarters is former K-State coach Vince Gibson (1967-1974). If you missed it, check out "K-State Sports Extra" on www.kstatesports.com for a two-part story on Gibson's days at K-State.

• Jill Shields, K-State's women's senior administrator, promises to be dressed in purple today. Shields played basketball at Central Florida in the late-1980s and later coached at UCF.

BY THE NUMBERS
• 8 - In 15 games as a Wildcat, Daniel Thomas has rushed for at least 100 yards in eight games.

• 10-10 - Central Florida is a perfect 10-of-10 in scoring once moving the ball into the red zone.

• 11 - The Wildcats are 11th in the nation in team rushing at 260.3 yards per game.

• 14 - William Powell leads the Big 12 and ranks 14th in the nation in kickoff returns.

• 102 - K-State ranks 102nd in the nation in passing yardage at 152.6.

• 389 - Senior Corey Adams has snapped the ball 389 times on punts, field goals and extra points without one errant snap.

PLAYERS TO WATCH
K-STATE:
• C WADE WEIBERT (#74) AND OG ZACH KENDALL (#59) have helped Daniel Thomas rush for 184 yards per game and lead the nation. As a team, K-State ranks 11th nationally in rushing.

• WR BRODRICK SMITH (#5) leads the team with 12 catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Smith caught a 47-yarder last week for Kansas State's longest completion of the year.

• S TY ZIMMERMAN (#12) is starting as a true freshman. Before this season, he had not played on the defensive side of the ball since his middle school days.

CENTRAL FLORIDA:

• QB JEFFREY GODFREY (#2) has passed for 302 yards and rushed for 104 yards. He has completed 68-percent of his passes with one TD and zero interceptions.

• LB LAWRENCE YOUNG (#57) has recorded a team-high 18 tackles with three of those for negative yardage.

• DE DARIUS NALL (#53) has 15 tackles with four sacks and three tackles for losses as a second-teamer. Nall missed the 2008 season due to treatments for cancer, but he played in 2009 and now in 2010 as a junior.

NEXT WEEK: Kansas State takes next Saturday off before playing consecutive Thursday night games on Oct. 7 against Nebraska at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and Oct. 14 at Kansas. Both games will start at 6:30 p.m.
 
 
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com.