Jeffrey Martin, who covers Kansas State for the Wichita Eagle, will join us on KUSports.com for a live chat Thursday at 3 p.m. to discuss this weekend's tilt between the Jayhawks and Wildcats. Questions are sure to be aplenty, so submit yours early.
This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.
Hello everyone and welcome to today's live chat session on KUSports.com. With one of the most anticipated Sunflower Showdowns in recent memory just less than 48 hours away, it's my pleasure to welcome in Jeffrey Martin, who covers K-State inside and out for the Wichita Eagle. Jeff, thanks for taking to time to answer some questions. Any question that this could be the most evenly-matched meeting between KU and KSU that you've seen?
Probably, especially since I've only been here for two years. So yes, this is the most evenly-matched meeting. Thanks for having me, by the way.
Our computers are kind of prehistoric here, so if I'm a delayed in my responses, bear with me.
Thanks for taking the time to join us, today. Before we jump into reader questions, with what happened in Austin a week ago, have you seen a big jump in terms of buzz for this game in Manhattan? A little more on the line now?
I think it's pretty clear what K-State is at this point, but I think there are a lot of questions still about KU. With that said, I do think there is a mutual respect from both sides, rivalry game be damned, and that makes it for a more enjoyable experience for a non-Kansan such as myself.
That should add some spice to what goes on on the field...without further ado, lets get to the questions...
I have thought that since KSU went to a 3-4 defense that Ian Campbell would be a concern for K-State in the run defense. Can teams in the Big XII run around him and can KU do that this week or am I just giving Ian Campbell no respect in regards to his speed
Ian's a better athlete than people think. I thought run defense was also a weakness, but he's really thrived in this system, even though his numbers are down. He's become more of a playmaker, as shown in Austin. He's better against the run than you'd think.
Enjoy your work for the Wichita Eagle.
I know you have great knowledge covering the Wildcats. If you were the KU coaches what areas do you think they need to attack to be victorious on Saturday?
I wouldn't kick to K-State. I would put Talib on Jordy all day. Basically, I'd do that, and implement the same game plan K-State's coaches have been doing to the opposition. Short passes, get it out of the quarterback's hands, minimize turnovers and play the field-position game. You have little margin for error, but it's worked for K-State so far.
Is there any update on whether Marcus Watts is going to play?
I would be shocked if Watts didn't play in this, his final Sunflower Showdown. We don't know what was ailing Marcus, but his teammates seemed to indicate he was just sick. But we'll see.
Do you think KU is not being looked at as a good team? And what do you think of K-State's offense so far? What is your prediction?
No, I think KU's numbers are eye-opening, but there's always the "but" factor. As in, the Jayhawks have whupped some people, but who have they played? I think that's a legitimate issue. But I suspect KU is a pretty solid team, better in all facets than Texas was. Basically, the Longhorns mailed it in on special teams; the Jayhawks don't. I think K-State's offense is pretty basic, but again, I think that's by design. And, until you prove you can stop Jordy Nelson, why would they stop throwing the ball to him? Because the Wildcats are at home, I like K-State. I don't do actual numbers, just wins and losses.
Has K-State's offensive line improved this season, or has Prince just adjusted and made sure Freeman gets rid of the ball quicker?
I suspect it's a mixture of both. Auburn's defense was the best K-State has seen, and it also happened to be the first game together for this unit. It has gotten better, just through cohesion and time, but it's still a work in progress. But Prince also doesn't want Josh sitting back in the pocket all day, holding onto the ball. It would be interesting to see a defense do what K-State does to this offense, which is basically blitz more people - usually up the middle - than the offense can pick up for protection.
Do you believe that Manhattan is more receptive to the traveling jayhawks than Lawrence is to traveling wildcats?
In what sport? Just kidding. I don't know. There will be a lot of KU fans at The Bill, I'd assume. Sure, it will be loud, and maybe hostile, but c'mon. At some point, it's only about the action on the field. Hopefully, Saturday is one of those days.
This one was e-mailed in from a reader....
If the world was to come to an end tomorrow and you only had one fastfood meal left in Wichita, what place would you pick? Mine would be Dog-N-Shake!
OK, seriously. Is this the year that a football team from Lawrence wins in Manhattan and a basketball team from Manhattan wins in Manhattan?
I don't like the fast food in the 'Ta. It's going to be rough for the Jayhawks to come into The Bill and emerge victorious. There is a revenge factor at work here, whether Prince wants to admit it or not. As for basketball, I'll guess we'll have to wait and see. Personally, I think the 'Cats can get it done, if only because Mike Beasley is one unique cat who isn't going to be fazed by the one-sided history in this series.
He certainly doesn't appear to be from a distance just reading some of the stuff he's said. Is the anticipation building for hoops season yet in Manhattan? What are the realistic expectations out there from the 'Cats in 07-08?
If Bob Huggins was still around, they'd be a lock for Top 20. But the biggest question mark is Frank Martin, and whether he can handle this task in his first year as a Division I head coach. I think he can because he's a good X and O guy. Anticipation is building - I'd be shocked if Bramlage Coliseum isn't packed for "Madness in Manhattan" - but sometimes that's a good and bad thing, you know?
Last year's atmosphere in Bramlage was insane. I'm sure this year won't be a step down at all. But back to football, we've got two more questions for you before we let you get back to the grind.
I'm going to flip the script - tell me about KU's freshman class in basketball? Seems like a fascinating group...
OK, answer my question later.
What do you see as the Wildcat's strengths and weaknesses this season? And what do you see as the most interesting matchups in the upcoming game?
Pretty simple, shannyvan1. Defense and special teams makes everything go. Weaknesses? I'd say not enough offensive weapons besides Jordy Nelson, if only because I question Deon Murphy's hands. I'm telling, I've been a critic of Prince and this program, but I'm impressed. This is how college football should be played - tough, fast and hard-nosed. I love the Talib-Nelson matchup - obviously - but also I can't wait to see how KU's offensive line holds up against K-State's relentless pressure. If it does, and Reesing can make quick and accurate decisions, the Jayhawks might come out with a win. Oh, and if they don't allow K-State to return any kicks.
Will a big special teams play from either team be the deciding factor in this weekend's game?
K-State goes into every game expecting points from special teams, so probably not. I think if one team gets points from its defense, that team will likely prevail.
Back to your original question, Jeff:
Ah, well I'd say it's a class where you don't quite know what you're getting, or basically the opposite of the '05-'06 class (Wright, Chalmers, Rush). Aldrich certainly has the size and natural ability to fill in off the bench in the paint, but he needs to break the stereotype coming in of being the next Eric Chenowith. I think that from what we saw in scrimmages over the summer, the rock of the class will be Tyrel Reed, who is a better athlete and better shooter than what many expected. He looked this summer like he could spell Chalmers or Collins off the bench for minutes here and there and the team might not skip a beat. Of the two walk-ons, Conner Teahan looks like he could be a steal down the road. He's got a nice shot, gets to the rim smoothly and has good size at 6-5. It's a good class for what KU needed, seeing how the Jayhawks only lost Julian Wright from the regular rotation a year ago. Bill Self didn't 54 McDonald's All-Americans this year. Next year, though, will be a different story, with as many as 8 or 9 guys potentially leaving. And so far, he's only got one commitment.
Fascinating. Tyrel Reed... last time we saw him he was rolling through Manhattan wearing a Kirk Hinrich Bulls jersey, which didn't exactly endear him to many K-State fans. But hey, it happens.
That'll be the biggest hurdle for Tyrel - fans are expecting him to be the next Hinrich right away. If people are reasonable with him and keep the pressure to a minimum, he'll be fine.
Well hey, Jeff, thanks for taking the time to speak with our readers. The time was truly appreciated. We'll see you at the game Saturday.
And thank you to our readers for taking part in another KUSports.com live chat session.
Thanks for having me. Enjoy the game.