K-State, OSU battle for redemption
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
STILLWATER, Okla. — Kansas State and Oklahoma State share a sense of frustration and urgency this week that comes from dropping their Big 12 openers.
But other dynamics at work in today's 2:30 p.m. showdown at Boone Pickens Stadium could provide some interesting contrasts as well.
While No. 21-ranked OSU is just a week removed from its surprising 30-21 loss at West Virginia last Saturday, K-State's pain has festered much longer.
The Wildcats have had two weeks to dissect - and also stew over - a 31-21 setback at Texas.
"It was beneficial," K-State defensive end Marquel Bryant said of the bye week, which allowed the Wildcats to work out some kinks, take a longer look at Oklahoma State and also let the anger subside. "After a loss you have heartache and you feel low, but you have your teammates to pick you up.
"As you practice on and continue in the off week, it helps us get level headed and focus on what we need to do."
But to guard against the Wildcats mellowing too much after a loss that dropped them to 2-2 on the season, K-State coach Bill Snyder rattled their cages ever so slightly by running a DVD of the Texas game on a loop in the locker room throughout the week.
"It brings back that anger and frustration," junior receiver Tyler Lockett said.
As for Oklahoma State (3-1), the Wildcats expect the Cowboys' nerves still to be raw after dropping 10 points in the national rankings.
"I've mentioned that (to the team), yes," Snyder said of Oklahoma State's motivation. "They will be angered.
"I think it's just that emotion when you lose a ballgame. The real competitive people get very upset about it and anger can be channeled in the right direction to help performance."
Against West Virginia, three turnovers and multiple problems in the kicking game, combined with a sub-par offensive performance, cost Oklahoma State dearly.
"Man, it was disheartening," OSU linebacker Ryan Simmons said. "Guys were just upset more than anything because we beat ourselves - that's what we believe.
"There are a lot of things that we knew that we messed up on and could have done better at. But it is what it is and we need to bounce back harder this week."
Still, the Cowboys present some challenges. With sophomore quarterback J.W. Walsh running the show, they rank No. 36 nationally in total offense at 474 yards a game and are second in the Big 12 with a 39.2 scoring average.
"(Walsh) is a dual-threat guy. He can do both (pass and run) and do them both well," Snyder said. "Consequently there are built-in issues of having to defend someone that has multiple capabilities, along with some other people that he can distribute the ball to."
Walsh leads OSU in rushing with 58.5 yards a game and two touchdowns, plus ranks fifth in the Big 12 in passing with a 241-yard average while completing 60 percent of his throws. He has eight touchdown passes and just three interceptions.
"You can't fall asleep reading your keys when you have a mobile quarterback," K-State safety Dante Barnett said. "If you do, next thing you know the quarterback will pull the ball and run for 40 yards."
Walsh's favorite targets are junior Josh Stewart with 19 catches for 312 yards and Jhajuan Seales with 15 for 163.
Another concern with Oklahoma State is its offensive pace. The Wildcats handled that aspect of Texas' attack, but the Cowboys take it up a notch and Baylor next week will be even faster next week.
"They will be faster," Snyder said. "This will be the fastest team that we have played up to this point in time and the following week it will get perhaps a little faster."
Like Oklahoma State, K-State was plagued by turnovers its last time out, losing three fumbles in Texas territory. The Wildcats face an OSU offense that leads the Big 12 in run defense but is dead last in stopping the pass, which should give the advantage to starting quarterback Jake Waters over backup Daniel Sams, who poses the bigger threat on the ground.