January 29, 2023

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Know Your Opponent: Wildcats will showcase new roster towards South Dakota

Ok-State soccer making their entrance on to the sector earlier than their October 30, 2021 recreation. (Archive picture by Madison Riebel | Collegian Media Group)

Switch quarterback Adrian Martinez and new offensive coordinator (OC) Colin Klien are the main target of the 2022 marketing campaign for Kansas State Soccer. Following Kansas State routing Louisiana State within the 2021 TaxAct Texas Bowl, followers are questioning if the Wildcats discovered a brand new play-calling id, or if the hype is a fluke. 

A number of LSU scholarship gamers selected to not play within the bowl recreation with NFL pursuits in thoughts, however Ok-State took care of enterprise, successful 42-20 with 442 whole yards on offense. The balanced run-pass assault allowed the Wildcats to maintain LSU’s protection on their heels and management the sport.

Skylar Thompson performed a task within the victory this previous season, throwing 21-28 with 259 yards and three touchdowns. Though Thompson superior to the NFL, Ok-State’s recruiting workforce snagged one other dual-threat quarterback. 

Coming from Lincoln, Nebraska, after 4 seasons as beginning quarterback, Adrian Martinez brings new life to the desk in OC Colin Klein’s first season. Like Thompson, Martinez’s expertise and skill to throw dimes and scramble exterior the pocket is with out query, however can he lead like Thompson?

Adrian Martinez

As a Nebraska Cornhusker, Martinez’s finest season in his four-year profession as beginning quarterback got here as a real freshman. In 2018, Martinez was deemed a Freshman All-American and was voted Honorable Point out Massive 10 by coaches and media members regardless of a 4-8 workforce document.

The QB’s finest season got here as a freshman, however he was named on award watch lists in his sophomore, junior and senior seasons: The Manning Award (2019-2021), the Maxwell Award (2019-2021), the Davey O’Brian Award (2019), the Walter Camp Award (2019) and the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award watch listing (2021).

Over Martinez’s profession, he’s thrown 8,491 yards and 45 touchdowns on a 63.5 completion share. He’s additionally piled 2,301 yards dashing and 35 dashing touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry.

The query with Martinez isn’t his expertise, however his management. Regardless of tossing 45 touchdowns at Nebraska, the graduate-transfer struggles with the turnover bug, throwing 30 interceptions in 4 seasons. Nevertheless, with a veteran offensive entrance headlined by Cooper Bebbe, Ok-State’s safety might scale back the quantity of turnovers followers witnessed when Martinez performed for Nebraska.

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Deuce Vaughn

Vaughn’s been the spine of Ok-State’s offense all through his profession, capping the 2021 season off with 146 yards dashing and three touchdowns towards LSU. The 5-foot-6-inch junior confronted obstacles with Thompson injured and COVID-19 through the 2020 season, however nonetheless managed to exceed expectations.

In his profession, he’s rushed for two,046 yards and 25 touchdowns on the bottom, whereas being a menace within the passing recreation with 902 receiving yards and 6 receiving touchdowns. Though the 2022 Preseason All-American gained’t have Thompson alongside him within the backfield, Vaughn’s new companion, Martinez, presents alternatives for fulfillment.

Protection

The Wildcat protection returns a number of beginning defensive linemen, All-American linebackers and affect gamers from the injured listing. It’s a 3-3-5 protection that solely surrendered 21 factors per recreation this previous season, rating nineteenth within the nation.

Khalid Duke’s presence as linebacker will probably be an enormous profit for the Wildcats. Duke is getting back from a season-ending harm within the third recreation of the season the place he made his mark on the stat sheet.

Recording a sack in every of the primary two video games, his move dashing means alongside star defensive finish Felix Anudike-Uzomah and upcoming defensive finish Nate Matlack might give the Wildcats constant stress on opposing QBs. The potential three-headed monster isn’t the one trio which can trigger opposing offenses havoc. Duke will probably be lining up with fellow linebackers Julius Brentz and Daniel Inexperienced, making a bodily presence up entrance.

The security place for the Wildcats sees three transfers with earlier success at smaller faculties. Kobe Savage involves the Wildcats from Tyler Junior School. Savage’s second season at Tyler earned him a Second Workforce NJCAA All-American and First Workforce All-Convention honors with 70 tackles and 5 interceptions.

Alongside Savage as an All-American stands Drake Cheatum, HBCU All-American from Prairie View A&M. Cheatum noticed related manufacturing to Savage final season, finishing a team-high 86 tackles for the Panthers together with 5 interceptions and 10 move breakups. 

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The third beginning security switch is Josh Hayes from Virginia. Whereas Hayes got here from the Cavaliers, his most efficient seasons got here as a North Dakota State Bison. 

Hayes began each recreation at cornerback, ending with 59 tackles, 12 passes defended and two interceptions. These stats earned him a Second Workforce All-Missouri Valley Convention choice.

The three safeties collectively can all assist contribute to the run and move recreation on protection. Figuring out the presumably high-level move rush, the trio could possibly shorten the sector and create turnovers from frantic QB play. The well-rounded protection from up entrance to the again finish can tremendously complement the offense within the subject place battle, incomes the higher hand on Saturdays.

South Dakota 

The Coyotes completed 7-4 this previous common season with notable video games towards KU, shedding 17-14 and towards No. 7 ranked FCS D-1 South Dakota State, successful 23-20.

The Coyotes’ 2021 offense relied totally on its dashing assault, led by the working again duo of Nate Thomas and Travis Theis, with every working for over 600 yards and a mixed 13 touchdowns. In addition to Thomas and Theis, in addition they noticed contributions from working backs Mike Mansaray and Shomari Lawrence in addition to QB Carson Camp. All 5 gamers are nonetheless on the roster and can proceed as a runner-by-committee method for the offense. 

With the dashing assault as the principle weapon on offense, the passing recreation served as a median for the workforce final season. Whereas Camp solely threw 187.67 yards per recreation final season, he did so effectively. Camp accomplished over 65 p.c of his passes final season, throwing for two,252 yards with 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. 

Even with a protected, constant passing recreation, the Wildcats have an opportunity to trigger bother for the Coyotes with their new receiving weapons. Carter Bell led the workforce in receiving with 673 yards on 41 receptions for 5 touchdowns final yr. Bell returns to the workforce as the one weapon within the prime 4 in receiving yards final yr nonetheless on the workforce, inflicting potential points for the offense.

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On the defensive facet of the ball, the Coyotes led with a balanced assault all-around, permitting lower than 21 factors per recreation from their opponents. Their protection noticed their finest manufacturing up entrance, permitting solely 3.5 dashing yards per play and finishing 33 sacks as a workforce within the yr. 

Much like the offense, the protection misplaced a few of their key contributors, together with Jack Cochrane, who led the workforce with 103 tackles and 4 interceptions final season. In addition to Cochrane, in addition they misplaced two of their prime 4 sack leaders, however nonetheless have defensive lineman Nick Gaes, who tied for the workforce lead with seven sacks final yr.

The workforce strives to win the sport on the line of scrimmage by successful the run recreation on either side and conserving stress on opposing QBs. Whereas that’s how the Coyotes have operated, Ok-State additionally thrives in that space however with much more dominance. The stress to win up entrance will probably be on South Dakota, as they should go up towards star gamers Beebe, Vaughn and Anudike-Uzomah.

Predictions

South Dakota reveals flashes of a possible upset, however Ok-State’s new expertise meshes sufficient to deal with the Coyotes. Klein makes this doable by calling extra performs from the playbook than the Wildcats have in previous season openers and conserving Martinez on the sector for longer than anticipated.

The defensive entrance incorporates the run and forces South Dakota to move, however Ok-State’s bull rushers trigger havoc for the Coyotes’ offensive line. The stress’s an excessive amount of for the Coyotes and Ok-State runs away with the rating.

Chase Hagemann: Ok-State 37-16

Luke Lazarczyk: Ok-State 31-17