October 12, 2011

Expert: Plain fits K-State

Texas Tech takes on No. 17 Kansas State Saturday at 6 p.m. inside the friendly confines of Jones AT&T Stadium.

To get a feel for the Wildcats RedRaiderSports.com's Chris Level and Aaron Dickens caught up with Tim Fitzgerald of GoPowerCat.com, Kansas State's Rivals.com affiliate website, on their Lubbock radio show 'Tech Talk' which airs on Double T 104.3 FM.

Here are the five questions Fitzgerald answered about the Wildcats:

Q: Two words. Bill Snyder. Go.

Fitzgerald: Just an incredible football coach. I mean, you can't teach an old dog new tricks but man he knows his tricks.

He's coaching an old school football team, they know exactly what they want to accomplish. This group has bought in more to what he wants to do on the football field than maybe any of his previous teams and that says a lot.

They have a real strong identity on offense and defense and neither of those identities are very flashy but they get the job done.

This is a surprising start for Kansas State. Ranked and 5-0 coming into Lubbock. This wasn't the outlook to start the season, was it?

Fitzgerald: No. When I laid out the best-case scenario for this season, I laid out the Miami and Baylor games as probably crucial games that would set up last weekend's Missouri game and give K-State a fighting chance. 'If they can do this, if they can do that,' and here they are. They've done it all.

They've won all their games, they're heading off to Lubbock and they're not a very overwhelming football team. But like I said, these kids have really bought in to the Bill Snyder system and it's paying off.

It's the type of thing where if the coach can coach for several more seasons because he's got a little hardcore evidence that if you do things his way you're going to be successful.

Q: Kansas States' defense was not very good last season. What have been the keys to the turnaround?

Fitzgerald: They're just better up front. Arthur Brown, the middle linebacker, is a big help but the whole front seven has been revamped. They've got one player that remains up there in Ray Kibble, the nose tackle, and I've never seen someone make more improvement between his junior and senior year. He went from an OK, workmanlike defensive tackle to probably an NFL guy in one offseason.

They've hit the junior college ranks, gotten better up front and they've got a sophomore linebacker, Tre Walker who made the big play t Miami, who has become a special player. They converted a strong safety, Emanuel Lamur to a linebacker as well. So they're really athletic, they run around and hit people.

The fact that front four and front seven can contain run games has allowed the defensive backs to cover much better.

Q: Talk about quarterback Collin Klein and how he's emerged. There were concerns in the offseason about the quarterback spot but he is performing well.

Fitzgerald: It turns out he's a great leader. He's a gamer too.

You look at his stats and you're not overwhelmed by him. You watch him play and you're not overwhelmed by him. He just figures out how to make plays. He can run over people although he does have surprising speed. His passing stats are fairly awful, but he picks up first downs.

Once a game he makes a throw that makes you say 'man, that was a really impressive throw.'

He's just a guy that makes plays at the right time and he's (a) Bill Snyder guy. He's a coach's son, he says all the right things, does all the right things, completely memorized the playbook and knows exactly what coach Snyder wants to accomplish.

Q: What's the key for Kansas State on Saturday?

Fitzgerald: They've got to play to their personality and that is pick up third downs so they can possess the ball. Get into the upper 30s in time of possession, not give up huge plays on defense. In this modern era of football, you can hold the ball for 40 minutes and f the other team is scoring touchdowns in their 20 minutes it doesn't really matter. K-State's really trying to keep that in check.

If they do that, they're going to be in great shape against any team. They've got to perpetuate drives and they've done a good job of keeping teams off the field on third down.

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