In the second of two chats leading up to the Kansas vs. Kansas State contest, Tim Fitzgerald of GoPowercat.com and The Drive, will join us on KUSports.com Friday at 3 p.m. to answer all of your queries. 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 the second of two live KU-KSU chats this week on KUSports.com. I'm Ryan Greene, online sports editor for the Journal-World, and I'll be moderating today's session with Tim Fitzgerald of GoPowercat.com and The Drive. We've got Tim here for about a half hour to answer some of your questions about this weekend's Sunflower Showdown. Tim, Thanks for taking the time to speak with our readers today.
Good to be here.
Well, lets get right to it...
We know you have good inside knowledge of the Wilcats team. Help us out a moment...If you were on the KU Coaching staff what areas would you have the offense, defense, and special teams attack in order for the Jayhawks to be victorious?
Great question. I think KU will use a lot of misdirection on offense to try to slow down a K-State defense that is playing very fast this season. I look for KU to work some of the same defensive principles they did last year by trying to take away the flat and roll Josh Freeman out. Also, I simply would not let K-State field a punt. Punt to the sides of the field and even give up some field position to prevent the big game-changing play.
Do you think the build up of this game could have the same end result of the 95 game that was a route of the Jayhawks?
This KU team is too explosive on offense to be held to just seven points, but if one team wants to melt down like K-State did last year, it could get out of hand. To be honest, I don't see k-State and Freeman having that type of meltdown at home, but I think the game will be closer than 41-7.
If KU were to jump out thanks to big plays, would you expect Ron Prince to deviate from his dink-and-dunk offense and let Freeman air it out a bit?
I think K-State may air it out a bit on Saturday anyhow if KU tries to press forward to prevent those short passes. Prince tended to hit the panic button a little soon last season, but I think he and offensive coordinator James Franklin will be much more patient with their gameplan this season. K-State may be throwing the ball short, but Jordy Nelson is turning some of those plays into big gains.
Why was Jordy Nelson overlooked coming out of high school? Was he just a late bloomer?
Nelson was an awesome high school athlete, so he was well known, but there was a question on what position he would play (he was a high school QB) and how good the competition he was going against. Mangino opted not to recruit him at all and Bill Snyder made him a preferred walk-on and quickly gave him a scholarship when he had proven his ability. Nelson has now more than proven himself and will play in the NFL.
On the topic of Nelson, Aqib Talib is the type of corner who loves the challenge of taking on the opposition's No. 1 receiving weapon. He's obviously excited for the challenge. On the flip side, how is Jordy feeling going into this matchup? Do you expect him to rise to the occassion? He's certainly proved so far this year that he's capable of it.
Nelson plays in the slot a lot, which is not usually where a team would put its top corner. How often they match up could be interesting. It would be a great matchup, though. But K-State is waiting for a team to start trying to jump those short routes to open up the downfield passing game. Talib wouldn't be assigned to Nelson to sit there and tackle him after the catch, so it could turn into a great chess match.
Do you think that McKinney gets burned on an out and up with Talib early in the game? I think Talib would like to see if McKinney can catch him.
LOL. Justin McKinney does like to talk. For all of his struggles at times this season, McKinney was awesome against some outstanding receivers from Texas. He needs to prove that to be a new level of play. But, yes, Talib is more than capable of baiting McKinney into a mistake.
All right, Tim, we've got three more questions lined up for you...
We have heard about Campbell and McKinney on the K-State defense, but who are some of the other defensive players who KU fans should be aware of that might make an impact on Saturday?
Defensive end Rob Jackson may be the best on that side of the ball, but inside linebacker Justin Roland is having a really strong season. K-State hopes to get preseason all-Big 12 pick Marcus Watts back at safety. Keep in mind, the Wildcats played at Texas without their best safety (Watts was injured) and best corner (Joshua Moore is sidelined with an academic problem). This defense is also playing a lot of players and it has a lot of role players. DE Moses Manu tipped three Colt McCoy passes and two were picked, while Steven Cline has been really good at NT.
I remember talking at length with Jackson at Big 12 Media Day...he was a pleasant young man.
2 weeks ago many publications had KU and Mizzou as the favorites to win the North. A win against an over-rated Texas team has vaulted KSU into Big 12 Champ status. It was a great road win, but do you think the praise is pre-mature? Nobody can predict defensive and special teams scores. Also, I am throwing out the "revenge" factor-see KSU @ Texas. Do you agree?
Texas is good, but not great this season, but they are athletic and K-State made UT look slow. Winning on the road against any decent team in the Big 12 is tough, but thumping a decent or better foe on the road by 41-21 is noteworthy. Keep in mind that Mark Mangino has won just two Big 12 road games in five years. I think it is obvious that K-State has proven much more this season with a strong road showing at Auburn and then winning at Texas than KU has shown with four home wins against lesser competition. KU may be good this season, but the Jayhawks still need to prove themselves in the Big 12 and on the road. Saturday is a huge chance to do so.
What was your sense of how K-State fans perceived this KU team at the beginning of the season? Did it sound like fans invariably chalked this upcoming game as a likely victory and were looking at other games as more interesting match-ups. Or did they see this year's KU team as a likely up-and-coming challenge? And has that perception changed given KU's 4-0 start?
I actually don't think K-State fans were counting KU as a win. This game holds great importance to both programs, but Ron Prince doesn't want to fall to 0-2 against KU and lose at home in the process. Honestly, K-State fans recognize that KU has looked good early, but K-Staters know how Bill Snyder teams often fared in their first conference road game after a soft non-conference schedule. Adjusting to the speed of the game in conference play is a little shocking for a half or an entire game. Finally, no matter what the outcome, K-State and KU may just finish 1-2 in the Big 12 North because they have two of the three best defenses (with Colorado). Now that would be remarkable.
Well, Tim, on behalf of all our readers, I thank you for giving us some time this afternoon. It was a pleasure as always. And thank you to our readers who submitted questions. We'll see you next time for another KUSports.com live chat session.
Thanks for having me. It's great to have something at stake in this rivalry.