K-State Gameday | Stephen F. Austin
The Kansas State Wildcats kick off their 2014 campaign against Stephen F. Austin tonight at 6:10 p.m., in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Tonight's game will be aired exclusively on K-StateHD.TV (click here for more information) and can be heard on the K-State Sports Network.
A LOOK AT THE LUMBERJACKS
The Lumberjacks travel to Manhattan with a chip on their shoulder after a tough 2013 season and are looking to snap an 11-game road game losing streak dating back to 2011. Despite the fact Stephen F. Austin is coming off of a 3-9 season, it returns a veteran offense that averaged 38.5 points and 571.6 yards per game last season and is under the leadership of new head coach Clint Conque.
The Lumberjacks will be led on offense by a pair of preseason All-Southland Conference selections in wide receiver Tyler Boyd and running back Gus Johnson. Last season, Boyd recorded one of the best years in Stephen F. Austin history after grabbing 79 receptions for 1,183 yards, while Johnson ran for 1,061 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Earlier this week, K-State head coach Bill Snyder said his team is in no way taking tonight's game for granted and that the Wildcats received scouting reports of Stephen F. Austin on Sunday afternoon - a day earlier than their usual game week.
"Stephen F. Austin, even though there was a coaching change, you look at the personnel, this was an offensive team last year that led the nation in their division (FCS) in total offense. They're very productive, very strong in the passing game and they've got a new quarterback who's had some success as a transfer."
While the Lumberjack offense looks to be in good hands this season, this season's defense could post a few surprises. In 2013, the Stephen F. Austin defense gave up 49.3 points and 527.8 yards per game, and that's a stat that could get any opposing quarterback excited.
"Well that's obviously something you look at," said K-State quarterback Jake Waters when asked about the Lumberjack defense. "You do look at what they did last year, but they have a brand new defensive coordinator, and coach has been saying how everyone on their defense has improved. They're going to bring in a new scheme and change up some things, so we're expecting them to be a lot better than they were, statistically, last year, and we've got to be prepared."
Always taking the season one game at a time and never taking a team for granted, Snyder - like Waters - knows preparation is key because in football, anything can happen.
"From a defensive standpoint, they were at the other end of the spectrum last year," explained Snyder comparing the Stephen F. Austin defense with its offense, "but their practice reviews indicated that they are a vastly improved football team. If you go through and look at their depth chart, they have five defensive transfers from major schools - Texas A&M, Baylor, KU, Central Florida, Utah - they have a lot of transplants that are there right now that could certainly vastly improve from a defensive standpoint."
Though Stephen F. Austin and K-State have never faced off before tonight, the Lumberjacks are 0-7 all-time against current Big 12 members.
BACK ON THE GRIDIRON
K-State football is ready to get back in Bill Snyder Family Stadium in front of its passionate, purple fans, but don't just take my word for it.
Here's what a few players had to say about tonight's season opener:
Sophomore fullback Glenn Gronkowski:
"We just want to go out there and do it for (the fans). They support us all the time no matter how we're doing. It's awesome that they're always here supporting us. We just want to go out there and give them a little better outcome than last year."
Senior quarterback Jake Waters:
"We can't wait. This past week and a half has been a struggle for us because we're kind of sick of playing and practicing against each other. We just can't wait to get on that field. I'm so excited to see the new guys and see what they're going to be able to do."
Senior linebacker Jonathan Truman:
"I'm really excited. Just being out in practice for over three weeks with nobody in the stands and it's just us out there, it can get a little monotonous out there. So just really preparing is very important and once we get out there, we just have to perform."
Senior defensive tackle Valentino Coleman:
"We're really anxious. We were just talking about it earlier this week how we can't wait until Saturday... This whole week is exciting, practice (Monday) was fun, the first practice of game week; it's just all been really fun. We've been having a blast trying to enjoy it."
They're ready. Are you ready?
CLICK FOR MORE K-STATE FOOTBALL
Yesterday's K-State Sports Extra highlighted the Wildcats' offense and defense. To read that story, click here.
With temperatures expected to be in the 90's during tonight's game, K-State Athletics will have heat relief stations available around Bill Snyder Family Stadium. For more information on these heat relief stations, click here.
Also, for more information on the K-State Athletics operations crew and what they do to provide Wildcat fans the best fan experience in the Big 12, click here.
For K-State Sports Extra features on each of the five K-State football captains, click the titles below:
For even more information on today's season opener, check out www.kstatesports.com/gameday.