Cats Set for 2016 Home Opener Against FAU

GAME PREVIEW
SEPT 17, 1:30 PM

Bill Snyder Family Stadium
Manhattan, KS

NR/NR
FLORIDA ATLANTIC
OWLS
1-1 (0-0 C-USA)

NR/NR
K-STATE
WILDCATS
0-1 (0-0 Big 12)

FSN
Sirius 157, XM 205

Following a physical season opener in which the Wildcats hung in at seventh-ranked Stanford and a bye week, Kansas State opens its home slate on Saturday as K-State welcomes Florida Atlantic to Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Saturday’s game, which kicks off at 1:30 p.m., will be aired on FSN with Mark Followill (play-by-play), former K-State linebacker Ben Leber (analyst) and Lesley McCaslin (sidelines) on the call. The contest can also be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), former K-State quarterback Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sidelines) calling the action, as well as Sirius channel 157, XM channel 205. Live stats are available at k-statesports.com, while Twitter updates (@ kstate_gameday, @KStateFB) will all be a part of the coverage.

A LOOK AT K-STATE
• Guided by 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, who is in the midst of his 25th season at the helm of the Wildcats, K-State is looking to rebound from a 26-13 defeat at No. 8/7 Stanford in the season opener.
• K-State’s defense gave the Wildcats a chance in the second half as it allowed just one touchdown and 70 total offensive yards to the Cardinal over the final 30 minutes.
• The game at Stanford featured the return of captains DB Dante Barnett and QB Jesse Ertz, both of whom were injured and lost for the season in last year’s opener.
• Barnett had four tackles against the Cardinal, including 2.5 TFLs and a sack. It was the second time in his career he had at least 2.0 TFLs.
• Ertz went 16-of-34 for 207 yards and a touchdown while rushing 13 times for 20 yards.

A LOOK AT FLORIDA ATLANTIC
• FAU comes to K-State with a 1-1 record following a 38-10 defeat at No. 25 Miami last week.
• The Owls and Hurricanes battled to a scoreless first quarter, but FAU gave up 406 yards in the final 45 minutes.
• QB Jason Driskel has averaged 227 passing yards through the first two games with two TDs and a pick.
• RB Greg Howell is averaging 101.5 yards thus far, which features a 128-yard game in the season opener.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• Saturday’s game marks the second time K-State and FAU will meet on the gridiron after a 45-0 Wildcat victory in Manhattan in 2006.
• K-State is 21-4 all-time against current members of Conference USA.
• The contest is the fourth against C-USA members in the last three years as the Wildcats defeated UTEP in 2014 and both UTSA and Louisiana Tech last year.

HOME OPENERS
• K-State holds an 88-27-5 (.754) record all-time in home openers.
• Under head coach Bill Snyder, the Wildcats are 22-2 (.917) in their home debut.
• The Sept. 17 home opener this year is the latest home opener for the Wildcats since 2001 when K-State defeated New Mexico State, 64-0, on Sept. 22 that season.
• K-State’s home opener in 2001 was originally scheduled for Sept. 15, against Louisiana Tech, but that game was postponed due to the tragic events of Sept. 11.
• Due to those events, Saturday’s game is the latest scheduled home opener since the 1992 season when the Wildcats topped Montana, 27-12, on Sept. 19.

BYE WEEK NOTES
• The Cats have had 27 previous mid-season bye weeks under head coach Bill Snyder and have turned the extra week of preparation into an 18-9 record the following week.
• Since Snyder’s return in 2009, K-State is 7-5 when coming off a bye week during the season.
• The Wildcats will be looking to turn around their recent fortunes following bye weeks as K-State lost both games following byes last season by a combined nine points to top-20 teams – a 36-34 loss at No. 20 Oklahoma State and a 31-24 defeat at the hands of No. 2 Baylor.

SNYDER IN SEPTEMBER
• Fast starts have propelled the Wildcats to winning seasons under Bill Snyder. Since 1992 under Snyder, K-State is a combined 62-8 (.886) in September.
• Of the losses, five came on the road, as the Cats are 47-3 in September home games during that stretch.
• Since Snyder’s return to the sidelines in 2009, K-State is 20-5 in the month of September.

NON-CONFERENCE NOTABLES
• Since 1990, K-State has won 72 of its 82 (.878) regular-season non-conference games under Bill Snyder, including 62-of-66 (.939) at home.
• K-State has had perfect regular season non-conference ledgers in 15 of the last 23 years.

TOUGH SLATE
• The 2016 season opener at then-No. 8/7 Stanford represented the beginning of a tough 2016 schedule for the Wildcats.
• Seven opponents on K-State’s schedule are either ranked or receiving votes in this week’s Associated Press or Coaches polls, including five that are road contests and three (at Stanford, at Oklahoma, vs. Texas) that are ranked in the top-10.

SUSTAINABLE SUCCESS

• Kansas State is in rare company in college football as the Wildcats rank in the top 20 in wins among FBS programs over the last 21-plus seasons.
• Since 1995, K-State has picked up 174 victories, which is 19th in the nation.
• The Cats are only one win away from a tie for 18th and six victories away from the top 15.
• Among current Big 12 teams, only Oklahoma (6th; 197), Texas (10th; 193) and TCU (14th; 180) rank higher.

SNYDER IN ELITE COMPANY
• Head coach Bill Snyder currently has 193 career victories, 154 more than any other coach in school history.
• Snyder ranks first in the FBS in wins among active coaches at their current schools, second in total victories among active coaches overall and 29th in all-time wins.
• He is seven wins away from becoming the 25th coach in FBS history with 200 career wins.
• Snyder, who has 112 conference wins, is one of four coaches with 100 Big 8/12 victories (Tom Osborne [153], Bob Stoops [112], Barry Switzer [100]).

CLEAN IT UP
• K-State led the Big 12 and ranked 16th nationally last year with only 39.3 penalty yards per game, while the Cats were second in the league with 4.38 penalties per game.
• Penalties were more frequent early in the year, but the Wildcats cleaned up down the stretch. In the final eight games of the regular season, K-State had just 32 (4.0 per game) penalties to jump back to No. 1 in the Big 12.
• With 11 underclassmen starters in the 2016 opener at Stanford, the Wildcats were flagged more than usual as they committed eight penalties for 44 yards.
• K-State has ranked first or second in the conference in fewest penalty yards per game each of the previous five years. The Wildcats led the league in 2014, 2013 and 2011, while they ranked second in 2012 and 2010.

HOME SWEET HOME
• Since 1990, K-State holds a 139-34-1 (.802) record when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
• That record includes a 68-5 (.932) mark in non-conference games and a 71-29-1 (.708) record in league games.
• K-State is looking to bounce back from a 4-3 (.571) home record in 2015, its worst home winning percentage since also going 4-3 in 2008.

RECORD ATTENDANCE
• Attendance at K-State games have been at an all-time high over the last four years as K-State has recorded 27 consecutive sellouts, a number that is expected to reach 33 after the 2016 season.
• For a third-straight year, K-State finished second nationally by filling up its stadium at a 106.20-percent clip, a number that was just 0.52-percent behind Oregon (106.72).
• K-State averaged a school-record 53,100 fans in its 50,000-seat stadium in 2015, a number that has increased each of the last four seasons.
• Each of the last seven home openers since Bill Snyder’s return – dubbed the “K-State Family Reunion” – have been sellouts with an average of 51,655 fans in attendance.
• Twenty one of the largest 25 crowds in stadium history have come in the last three years, including six of the seven home games in 2015.

YOUTH IS SERVED
• The season-opening depth chart featured 24 combined underclassmen (Fr. or So.; does not count special teams), including 17 on offense. It was the most on the initial depth chart of a year since at least 1988.
• K-State started 11 underclassmen – including four freshmen – in the opener at No. 8/7 Stanford. It was the most for either category since at least 1997.
• The previous high of underclassmen starting during that stretch was nine in 2005.
• The four freshmen starters two weeks ago marked the second-straight year the Wildcats started at least three freshmen in a season opener.
• K-State had no more than two freshmen starters in a season opener in any of the previous 18 years, while the Wildcats had started a combined total of eight freshmen in season openers from 1998-2014.

DRAWING FIRST BLOOD
• Since 1990, K-State is 155-29 (.842) when scoring first.
• K-State will be looking to bounce back from a 3-2 record in 2015 when scoring first, defeating South Dakota, Louisiana Tech and Kansas, but losing to Oklahoma State and Arkansas.
• In 2014, the Cats held a perfect 7-0 record when scoring the game’s first points.

OFFENSIVE NOTES
RED ZONE ALERT

• Kansas State has been one of the best red zone teams over the past few years, including a perfect mark over the final seven games of the 2015 season and a 3-for-3 effort in the 2016 opener at Stanford.
• The Wildcats, one of four Big 12 teams to be perfect in the red zone thus far in 2016, led the league last year and ranked second nationally by converting on 94.5-perecent (52-of-55) on their red-zone attempts, which included 35 touchdowns.
• Over the final seven games of 2015, K-State was perfect on its 25 attempts into the red zone with 17 touchdowns.
• In their 44 wins over the last five seasons, the Cats are 199-for-219 (.909) in red zone chances with 143 touchdowns, while four of their non-scoring trips have come via kneel downs to close out victories.

ERTZ GAINS EXPERIENCE
• A year after getting injured on the first offensive play of the 2015 season and missing the rest of the year, quarterback Jesse Ertz earned his most significant playing time in the 2016 season opener at Stanford.
• The Burlington, Iowa, product threw for only 58 yards in the first half but was better in the second 30 minutes, accumulating 149 yards and a touchdown.
• He also converted a 3rd-and-10 in the first quarter on a 19-yard run, which was one yard shy of his career-long rush.

JONES’ SOLID SECOND HALF
• Kansas State is hoping Charles Jones can replicate the second half of 2015 throughout his entire senior year. Over the final six regular-season games last season, Jones averaged 79.3 yards compared to a 30-yard average in the first half of the year.
• Jones’ second half was jump-started at Texas when he recorded a career-best 122 yards on 18 attempts, which was the most rushing yards by a K-State running back since John Hubert at Kansas in the 2013 regular-season finale (220).
• Jones narrowly missed another 100-yard effort two games later at Texas Tech, finishing with 99 yards.
• Of his six career games with 75-plus rushing yards, four came in 2015, while he hit the mark in three of the final four regular-season contests.
• During the game at Texas Tech, Jones became the 27th player in school history to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a career. He now has 1,279 career rushing yards to rank 20th in school history.

DEEP, BUT INEXPERIENCED, AT RECEIVER
• As evidenced by the fact that eight different players tallied receptions in the season opener at Stanford, K-State is deep at receiver, but only three players had starting experience going into the game in Deante Burton, Dominique Heath and Zach Reuter.
• Three new receivers – sophomore Byron Pringle, redshirt freshman Isaiah Zuber and true freshman Corey Sutton – each received their first Division I experience two weeks ago.
• Zuber hauled in a 15-yard touchdown reception late in the game, becoming the first freshman to catch a touchdown pass in a season opener since David Allen at Northern Illinois in 1997.
• Sutton corralled a 28-yard reception, the longest by a Wildcat true freshman since Tyler Lockett had a 48-yarder at Kansas in 2011.

DEFENSIVE NOTES
BEHIND ENEMY LINES

• The Wildcats, who recorded at least seven tackles for loss last year, have hit that mark in their last four regular season games thanks to 8.0 TFLs in the 2016 season opener at Stanford.
• Over half of the TFLs against the Cardinal came from senior safety Dante Barnett and junior defensive end Tanner Wood. Barnett had 2.5 TFLs, just 0.5 shy of his career high, while Wood had a career-best 2.0 TFLs.
• Additionally, redshirt freshman defensive end Reggie Walker recorded his first-career TFL at Stanford.
• K-State’s seven games with seven-plus TFLs last year were the most since recording 10 in the 15-game 2003 season.
• The Cats finished the 2015 season with 72.0 TFLs, their fourth-straight season with 70 or more TFLs.
• The current four-year streak with 70 or more TFLs is the longest by the Wildcats since 1996-2003 (eight years).

SACK MASTERS
• Kansas State had one of its better seasons in terms of sacks in 2015, recording 38 to rank third in the Big 12, tie for ninth in the nation and tie for eighth in school history.
• K-State, which had at least four sacks in each of its final three regular-season games and five times overall, finished in the top-10 nationally in sacks for the first time since 2006.
• Last year’s sack total was the highest since that 2006 squad carded 40 to tie for fifth in school history and sixth nationally.
• K-State started 2016 with a pair of sacks at Stanford, including a sack-strip by defensive end Jordan Willis and the first sack of safety Dante Barnett’s career.

SECOND HALF RESURGENCE
• The Wildcats have turned in some terrific performances on defense in the second half of games over the last seven regular-season contests, including at No. 8/7 Stanford on opening weekend.
• Over the final six games of 2015 (Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia) and at Stanford, the Cats have given up an average of 168.4 total yards and 8.3 offensive points in the final 30 minutes.
• Two weeks ago at Stanford, the Cats allowed just 70 total yards and one touchdown in the second half. Included in those figures are a 41-yard touchdown by Christian McCaffrey as the Wildcats held last year’s Heisman Trophy runner up to just 11 rushing yards and six receiving yards in the second half when taking away his late scamper.
• In last year’s win over Iowa State, K-State gave up 144 yards and zero points, which helped lead to the largest comeback victory in school history (21 points).
• K-State also allowed just 10 second-half points to Baylor last season, which was averaging 61.1 points per game entering the contest.

BARNETT READY TO LEAD DEFENSE AGAIN
• A year after seeing his season end with an injury in the first half of the season opener, safety Dante Barnett came back with a vengeance in this year’s opener at Stanford.
• Barnett, who received a medical hardship for the 2015 season, tallied four tackles, including 2.5 TFLs and his first career sack, which came in his 41st-career game.
• Barnett leads all K-State defenders with 185 career tackles as he is 65 stops away from becoming the 27th player in school history with 250 career tackles.
• The Tulsa, Oklahoma, product is also three interceptions away from moving into the career top-10 list at K-State.

WILLIS THE SACK ARTIST
• Preseason All-Big 12 defensive end Jordan Willis picked up where he left off in 2015 as he registered a sack and a forced fumble in the season opener at Stanford.
• Willis, who finished second in the Big 12 and 24th nationally with 9.5 sacks last year, has 15.5 sacks in his career to sit just two shy of entering the school’s career top-10 list.
• The Kansas City, Missouri, product has 7.0 sacks in his last five games dating back to last year’s Iowa State contest.
• Willis has been more than effective when getting to the quarterback as he has five career forced fumbles after one two weeks ago at Stanford. Last year, Willis finished 13th in the nation with four forced fumbles.

LEE LEADS THE CHARGE
• Junior linebacker Elijah Lee, a Second Team All-Big 12 in 2015, has also hit the ground running this season as he paced the squad with a career-high tying 12 tackles at Stanford.
• It was the third time in his career he recorded 10-plus tackles in his career (12 vs. Louisiana Tech, 11 at Texas Tech).
• Through the first two weeks of play, Lee leads the Big 12 in tackles per game.
• A Blue Springs, Missouri, native, Lee tallied a team-high 80 tackles in 2015, becoming the first freshman or sophomore to lead the team in tackles since 2008.

MOORE PRODUCTION
• Averaging less than one tackle per contest over his first 32 career games, linebacker Charmeachealle Moore came out of virtually nowhere as his best games as a Wildcats coincided with K-State’s late-season charge in 2015.
• Moore averaged 11 tackles per game against Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia, which included a 17-tackle effort against the Mountaineers en route to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
• Of his 17 tackles against WVU, 16 were solo stops to tie for the most nationally during the season, while it was the most by a Wildcat since at least 1990.
• Making his fourth-straight start dating back to last season, Moore had four tackles in the 2016 opener at Stanford and returned a fumble 35 yards to set up a field goal.
• The 35-yard scamper was the longest fumble return by a Wildcat since 2012 (Jarell Childs, 56 yards vs. Texas Tech).

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
CATS TOP IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs
• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 15-plus seasons as it has 101 since 1999.
• Since 1990, the Wildcats are 56-17 when scoring on special teams and 19-1 when scoring on special teams and defense, including a 17-0 mark under Bill Snyder.
• The Cats have had at least five non-offensive touchdowns in four of the last five years and in 15 of the 17 seasons since 1999.
• Morgan Burns had all five of the Wildcats’ non-offensive scores in 2015. He opened the season with a 100-yard kick return against South Dakota and added return touchdowns against Texas Tech (93 yards), Iowa State (100 yards) and West Virginia (97 yards). He also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a score in a win at Kansas.

SCORING IN THE THIRD PHASE
• Kansas State has been far and away the best team among FBS programs over the last decade when it comes to scoring via a kickoff or punt return.
• The Wildcats have a combined 40 kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns since 2005, 12 more than any other FBS school over the last 11-plus seasons. Oklahoma State is second on the list with 28 combined kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns.
• K-State has been fairly consistent between kickoff and punt returns with 21 and 19 touchdowns, respectively, during the current stretch.

DEFENSE IN THE THIRD PHASE
• On the flip side, K-State has been just as consistent in terms of kickoff and punt coverage.
• The Wildcats have not allowed a kickoff-return touchdown in the last 38 games as the last time an opponent took a kickoff back for a score was Louisiana on Sept. 7, 2013.
• K-State finished the 2015 season ranked 12th nationally in kickoff return defense and is currently tied for seventh through the first two weeks of play.
• Similarly, the Wildcats haven’t allowed a punt-return score since the second game of 2014 – Sept. 6 at Iowa State – which is a span of 25 games.

McCRANE CONTINUES TO BE NATION'S BEST
• Despite playing in only five games during his sophomore season of 2015, place kicker Matthew McCrane still left an impression as he earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors by connecting on all seven field-goal attempts and all 15 extra-point attempts.
• The Brownwood, Texas, product has made 27-of-29 (93.1-percent) of his career field-goal attempts, putting him atop the K-State career record for field-goal percentage and ranking him first nationally among active kickers in career percentage.
• McCrane is first by 1-percent over Oregon’s Aidan Schneider in the national category and a 13.5-percent advantage over Jamie Rheem (1996-97, 1999-2000) in K-State’s career category.
• Additionally, McCrane made his first two field goals in the 2016 season opener, setting a school record for consecutive field goals made at 16. He bettered Rheem, who had 15-straight from Oct. 2 to Nov. 13 in 1999.

WALSH READY TO TAKE ANOTHER STEP
• Nick Walsh has established himself as one of the top punters in the Big 12 and will use his last two seasons of eligibility trying to prove he is the best in the league.
• As a sophomore, the former walk-on earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 accolades from the league’s coaches after ranking third in the conference with a 41.6-yard average.
• Walsh, who is on the 2016 preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, started his junior year on the right foot, booting three punts for a 48.7-yard average at Stanford, which was the second-highest average of his career.
• The Lyndon, Kansas, product currently ranks sixth in school history with a 41.67-yard average in his career.