Schedule working in Wildcats' favor
Notebook: Another stud RB emerging at OU; Texas offense rolls
Miami (Fla.) was added to Kansas State's 2012 schedule six years ago when Ron Prince was still head coach and trying to pump up his team's nonconference slate. Current coach Bill Snyder -- who returned to the helm of the Wildcats in 2009 after Prince's three-year time in Manhattan didn't work out -- isn't a fan of such games, regularly scheduling FCS opponents for openers.
But there were the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday, a shadow of what they used to be but still with some cache to their name, blitzing into the Little Apple. And there were the Wildcats, blasting them to smithereens in a 52-13 win.
"I was pleased," the understated Snyder said after the game.
It's only two games in, but senior quarterback Collin Klein looks to have undergone a transformation of sorts. Yes, he'll always be most dangerous on the ground -- he ran for three touchdowns and 71 yards against the Hurricanes -- but his arm is becoming a weapon. Klein completed 9 of 11 passes Saturday for 210 yards, third-best of his career, and a touchdown. Klein has completed roughly 72 percent of his passes this season, considerably better than his 2011 mark of 57 percent.
"He improves at everything because he works diligently to get better," Snyder said of Klein. "He has improved in the passing game and making an improvement in leadership."
Klein called the win a "step in the right direction."
The Wildcats have been marching toward national relevance since last season. They are 12-3 in their last 15 games, with the only losses coming against Arkansas (in the Cotton Bowl), Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, all ranked in the top 15 at the time. When the Big 12 writers compiled their preseason poll, they tabbed the Wildcats at No. 6, which was odd, as they finished second in 2011 and had most everybody -- specifically keys Klein, running back John Hubert, defensive standouts Arthur Brown and Nigel Malone -- coming back.
After a gimme against North Texas Sept. 15, the Wildcats -- now ranked No. 15 nationally -- head to Norman, Okla., to face current No. 5 Oklahoma, where they’ll have a chance on the national stage to take another giant lunge forward.
• Baylor had Week 2 off, but will face FCS foe Sam Houston State this Saturday. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett talked about a new wrinkle the Bears may use in the 3-4 system. It will not replace the 4-2-5 base Bennett prefers but will help counteract the conference’s passing attacks.
“After last season, I looked at ways we could get faster,” Bennett said. “It won’t be our base defense -- it’s supplemental -- but as much as we see spread offenses, it’s a nice versatile thing to do. We’ve been working with it since last spring, and I thought it was very effective.”
Next Game: vs. Sam Houston State Sept. 15
Iowa State (2-0)
• At first glance, the Cyclones’ 9-6 win against rival Iowa looks like a sloppy field-goal fest. But wait -- ISU did in fact score a touchdown, a first-quarter touchdown pass from Steele Jantz. It just missed the extra-point attempt. Linebacker Jake Knott intercepted a pass with a little more than one minute left to seal the win for the Cyclones.
• A week after running wild against Tulsa, Shontrelle Johnson was limited to 36 yards on 11 carries, his lowest output in a full game since 2010 in the tussle against Iowa.
Next Game: vs. Western Illinois Sept. 15
• The Big 12 suffered its first loss of the season with Kansas’ 25-24 loss to Rice, which kicked the game-winning field goal as time expired. The Jayhawks were up 24-16 at the end of the third quarter.
• Quarterback Dayne Crist threw two interceptions against one touchdown in the setback. He now has 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in his career, which spans to 2009 at Notre Dame.
Next Game: vs. TCU Sept. 15
Kansas State (2-0)
• The Wildcats scored 50 or more points in consecutive games for the first time since 2002.
• Collin Klein, despite the improvements he’s made in the passing game, should still be considered a run-first quarterback. Among all QBs, he ranks third in rushing attempts (35) and is tied for third in touchdowns (three).
Next Game: vs. North Texas Sept. 15
• Another year, another star running back emerging out of the blue for Oklahoma. Junior college transfer Damien Williams ran for 156 yards and four touchdowns in the No. 5 Sooners’ 69-13 win against Florida A&M. Meanwhile, Dominique Whaley has been relegated to a backup role. Whaley, a former walk-on, rushed for 627 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
“Dom hasn’t taken care of the ball the last two weeks,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “He’s still working through those things.”
• A week after giving up three sacks, the offensive line rebounded with a stronger effort against Florida A&M, giving up just one. Still, the team is already almost halfway to its 2011 sacks total (10).
• The ‘BellDozer’ formation, successful last season, is struggling to get going. Backup quarterback Blake Bell has gained five yards on eight carries and hasn’t had a carry in the red zone. Bell scored 13 rushing touchdowns in 2011.
Next Game: vs. Kansas State Sept. 22
Oklahoma State (1-1)
• Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken said last week he didn’t want true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt to sling the team to a win: “We aren’t going to throw Wes out there and expect him to throw it 60 times to win.”
Well, that’s exactly what happened in the Cowboys’ 59-38 loss to Arizona in the desert. Lunt completed 37 of 60 passes for 436 yards, a school record for a freshman, and four touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions with one returned for a score. OSU also committed an uncharacteristic 15 penalties for 167 yards.
• Wideout Tracy Moore caught four touchdown passes against Arizona, his first game of the season after sitting out the opener.
• The Cowboys dropped out of the AP Top 25 poll last week, the first time they haven’t been ranked since Sept. 30, 2010, a span of 24 weeks.
Next Game: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette Sept. 15
• Texas holds a 139-0 margin in its last three games against New Mexico, which the Longhorns dispatched with ease in Week 2 45-0. Quarterback David Ash had a career day, throwing for 221 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
• True freshman Daje Johnson, suspended for the season-opener for a violation of team rules, had a team-high 66 receiving yards against the Lobos, with a touchdown reception of 45 yards.
• The No. 14 Longhorns tangle with Ole Miss this weekend, in Oxford, Miss., where they will have their hands full with quarterback Bo Wallace, who Texas briefly targeted last winter coming out of East Mississippi Community College.
• Texas has punted four times this season, with a nation’s-best 52.75 average yards per punt.
Next Game: at Mississippi Sept. 15
• Casey Pachall was perfect in a 59-0 win against Grambling State. His backup, Trevone Boykin, was too. The Horned Frogs didn’t have an incomplete pass all day, completing all 17 attempts – the most in FBS history without an incompletion – for their first win of the season.
"I guess if you were going to script a first ball game, this is the way we'd want to do it," head coach Gary Patterson said.
• Patterson was honored after the game for notching his 110th win, most in program history. Patterson is 110-30 overall – with 10 shutout victories – in 12 seasons.
• Skye Dawson, TCU’s second-leading returning receiver, will play Saturday against Kansas. Dawson was suspended for the opener for a violation of school and team policy.
Next Game: at Kansas Sept. 15
Texas Tech (2-0)
• The Red Raiders had no problem with upset-minded Texas State, winning 58-10 in San Marcos, Texas. Quarterback Seth Doege tossed five touchdowns, tying a career high. The defense was strong for the second game in a row, holding the Bobcats to 270 yards a week after holding FCS Northwestern State to 84 yards. For comparison’s sake, the Red Raiders gave up 668 yards in their first two games of 2011.
Next Game: vs. New Mexico Sept. 15
West Virginia (1-0)
• The Mountaineers had a bye week with a game against undefeated James Madison looming Saturday. A major talking point in Morgantown, W.Va., this week was the play of an improved offensive line, which helped pave the way for 331 yards rushing in last week’s win against Marshall.
"I told them that no matter how good or how bad they played, it was a starting point,'' offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh said. "We got to play against somebody else and if we improve from this point then we have a chance to be pretty good. But it's just a start and they're not satisfied, which is the thing I like most."
Next Game: vs. James Madison Sept. 15