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Wildcat Run Game the Difference

By Mark Janssen
 
 
Kansas State ran, and then ran it some more ... and some more.
 
It's not the balance coach Bill Snyder wants from his team, but for the second straight week, he summarized, "We won."
The Wildcats did win Saturday, 27-20, over Iowa State to open Big 12 play at 1-0 and improve to 3-0 overall with the help of a ground attack that went to work 50 times and produced 262 yards, compared to just 12 passes, completing six, for 104 yards.
 
Ironically, it was on Sept. 18 (yesterday's date) in 2004 when K-State last attempted fewer than 12 passes when it defeated Louisiana-Lafayette, 40-20. On that day, the Wildcats lofted just 10 passes and completed seven in a game where Darren Sproles rushed 42 times for 221 yards.
 
Saturday against Iowa State, Daniel Thomas rushed for 181 yards on a career-high 34 carries.
 
"Before the game, coach told me to be ready to carry the ball, so I tried to get that mindset going," said Thomas, who had touchdown runs of 1 and 2 yards.
 
To Snyder, it was a normal Thomas-type game.
 
"I thought he was very good. He played well and played hard. He did all the things he always does.
 
"I don't have a number (of carries) for him," Snyder said. "If he does not carry the ball at all, but we play well, I would be happy. If he carries it 50 times and we do well and gain success from it, I'm happy with that, too."
 
To be honest, Thomas said he felt like he carried it 50 times Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.
 
"It was so hot and muggy on the field I did get a little fatigued, but it was something you had to fight through," said the Wildcat running back, who had eight carries for 31 yards in the first quarter, 10 carries for 64 yards in the second period, seven totes for 49 yards in the third stanza, and nine for 37 in the fourth quarter.
 
"Daniel did what Daniel does," said K-State center Wade Weibert. "We try to keep our guys covered up, and then Daniel does a great job of keeping his feet moving and moving the pile."
 
Offensive guard Zach Kendall said of the day's effort, "We take pride on being a running team, and that's what we were geared up to be. Knowing that we're going to run, it gets us a little juiced and it's fun. We want to be known as that hard-nosed, hard-hitting offensive line."
 
That's exactly what K-State was on this day, and they earned a come-from-behind victory to show for it.
 
"It's all about going 1-0 every week, and that's what we did today," said Weibert. "As a lineman, it's a big pride thing for us to be able to grind it out. It's not a surprise to anybody when we come out and try to run it, so we take special pride when we can do that when teams expect it. For us, it's a stop-us-if-you-can mentality."
 
Thomas had eight individual runs of at least 10 yards, while four other Wildcats - Carson Coffman, William Powell, Aubrey  Quarles and Brodrick Smith - had at least one run of at least 10 yards.
 
K-State ended the day with 19 plays of at least 10 yards - 14 rushes and five passes.
 
On his personal 10 carries for 37 yards, Coffman said, "Personally, I'd rather be throwing it, but if they ask me to, I will."
 
And on giving the ball to No. 8 34 times, Coffman said, "As long as Daniel is in our backfield, we want to get the ball to him as often as possible."
 
DEFENSIVE STAND OF THE GAME: With K-State leading 24-20 with just over four minutes to play, Iowa State ran 11 plays and netted two first downs, but also only 17 total yards before Brandon Harold forced a fumble on ISU quarterback Austen Arnaud and made the recovery at the ISU 25-yard line.
 
Snyder called it, "The major play in the game, and for me, it kind of reaffirmed his effort at a critical time in the game. That could be challenged at some other times."
 
On his big play, Harold recapped, "It was a passing down, and the guy gave me a little room outside and the quarterback was still there. I hit him, the ball came loose and I recovered it."
 
K-State's Josh Cherry would kick a 42-yard field goal on its offensive possession to make it a seven-point game.
 
While giving up yards throughout the day, in Iowa State's last two possessions, it gained just 17 yards on 11 plays, and 40 yards on eight plays against the Wildcat defense.
 
Of the stands, Harold said he was pleased with the play, but added, "We can't wait until late in the game and make just one big play to try to win it. We need to do it from the first snap until the end."
 
Early, Harold said, "I think we were missing energy and enthusiasm."
 
"We had to bow up," said linebacker Alex Hrebec of the Wildcats' strong finish. "I was glad to see us step up when we had to."
 
But overall, linebacker Blake Slaughter said, "I'd only give us a six on a scale of one to 10 today. He had some sloppy play, but ultimately winning the game is what you want to do and few found a way to hold them to less points than we scored."
 
THOMAS UPDATE: Daniel Thomas has rushed for 552 yards in the first three games this year. That is the highest three-game total to start a season in K-State history. It's also the highest three-game total since 2003 when Darren Sproles rushed for 648 yards in consecutive games at the end of the year against Nebraska, Missouri and Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.
 
Thomas has now rushed for 1,817 yards in his 15-game K-State career. He needs 57 more yards to pass Cornelius Davis, who ranks No. 9 in Kansas State history.
 
Thomas rushed the ball a career-high 34 times. That's the highest attempt count since Darren Sproles rushed 42 times against Western Kentucky in 2004.
 
The 181-yard effort gives Thomas eight games of at least 100 yards in his career. Thomas has six rushing scores this year, two in each game.
 
QUOTE OF THE GAME: It worked last week, but not this week. For the second game in a row, K-State tried a run on a fake field goal. Last week, kicker Anthony Cantele took an option pitch and scored a touchdown. Saturday, holder Ryan Doerr kept the ball on a 4th and 7 from the ISU 17 and was tackled for no gain.
 
"Running the same play probably isn't the sharpest thing to do, but no one has accused me recently of being the sharpest guy," Bill Snyder said.
 
SPORTS EXTRA GAME BALLS
 
Offense - DANIEL THOMAS rushed for 181 yards on 34 carries and scored two touchdowns;  CARSON COFFMAN accounted for 142 yards of total offense - 37 rushing and 104 passing; OFFENSIVE LINE of WADE WEIBERT, ZACH KENDALL, KENNETH MAYFIELD, ZACH HANSON AND MANASE FOKETI produced 262 total rushing yards and 19 first downs on rushing attempts.
 
Defense - BRANDON HAROLD made the play of the game with the forced and recovered fumble, plus had a total of six tackles with one sack; ALEX HREBEC led the Cats with nine tackles.
 
Special Teams - JOSH CHERRY toed field goals of 37 and 42 yards; WILLIAM POWELL had kickoff returns of 45 and 33 yards, and a total of four returns for 116 yards for the game.
 
GAME NOTES

• Attendance: 38,468.

• K-State led 3-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Wildcats have now won their collective first quarters by a count of 17-0 this season. In the first quarter, K-State had only one possession ... a 13-play, 64-yard drive that ended with a 37-yard field goal by Josh Cherry.

• The Wildcats are now 5-1 in games at Arrowhead Stadium. The lone loss was to Oklahoma in the 2000 Big 12 title game.

• Emmanuel Lamur missed the game for unspecified reasons. Snyder said he thought Lamur would return next week.

• Kansas State was a decent 4-of-9 on third-down conversions.

• Big number: ISU had eight penalties for 64 yards, while K-State was only flagged four times for 37 yards.

NEXT WEEK: Kansas State, 3-0, returns to Bill Snyder Family Stadium for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff against Central Florida.
 
PLANNING AHEAD: Kansas State's games on Thursday, Oct. 7, against Nebraska in Manhattan, and Oct. 14, against Kansas in Lawrence will both start at 6:30 p.m. The NU game will be telecast on ESPN, and the KU game on Fox Sports Net.
 
 
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.