When the Oklahoma Sooner defense takes the field Saturday, they'll face a K-State team that ranks 18th nationally in rushing, averaging 251.7 yards per game. In fact, over the last nine quarters of play, the Wildcats have rushed for 608 yards and 11 touchdowns while outscoring their opponents, 122-34.
As with most offenses, the Wildcats success starts at quarterback with Collin Klein. On the ground and through the air, Klein has been very successful, rushing for 232 yards and four TDs while throwing for 609 yards and five TDs.
"He's a big guy, he can run, he lowers his shoulder when he runs," said OU Safety Javon Harris. "But I'm physical too. I feel like that's one thing for me I'm going to take advantage of. Everybody else on the defense, d-line, linebackers, we will be talking all week who's going to be more physical, who's going to take the person to the ground, who's going to make the play.
"They play very team oriented. They don't make a lot of mistakes. They don't make a lot of turnovers and they play real sound. That's one thing, they are going to continue to get better like we are so when it comes right down to it, it's going to be a good game."
Running back John Hubert is also one to keep an eye on. Although he was bottled up against North Texas, gaining 38 yards on 12 carries, Hubert is showing a nose for the end zone. He scored his third touchdown of the season against the Mean Green, matching his total from last season. On the year, Hubert has run for 318 yards and three TDs.
While we knew that Klein was a terrific runner out of the quarterback spot, his passing numbers have increased dramatically in 2012. Through three games, Klein is 43-59-2 for 609 yards and five touchdowns.
“I think a year in the system has given him a better understanding of both our offense and opponents’ defenses," said Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder. "It allows him to make decisions a little bit quicker than he might have done perhaps a year ago. Probably all of it, you know, we’ve addressed this many times. Collin is just adamant about improving all aspects of his game and certainly works diligently to do that, but I think those things probably stand out immensely. I think he feels more confident. He has the capacity to make decisions a little quicker. It gives him the opportunity to get rid of the ball a little bit faster. It all works hand-in-hand.”
Klein is throwing to three favorite receivers, Tramaine Thompson, Chris Harper and Tyler Lockett. Thompson leads the trio with 13 catches for 211 yards and three TDs.
With such success on the ground and through the air, most would expect that to put a lot of pressure on a defensive secondary.
"I wouldn't say necessarily tougher," said Harris. "I would say it makes you respect the part of the game you're supposed to be doing. Getting your eyes in the wrong place can easily turn into a big play. I think if we go into the game and make sure we keep our keys right and do everything we're supposed to do then it won't be a problem."
“Anytime you are in “man” coverage, it puts a lot of pressure on you as a corner and we know that K-State will try and run the ball as much as they can but they will also try and go over the top as well," said OU Cornerback Demontre Hurst. “They probably think that our focus is to shut down the run but we are out to shut down everything so we have to stay disciplined and focused and when they take their chances, we have to be ready.
“We have been watching K-State for a week now and we know what they like to do and they definitely like to run the ball so we have to stay tuned in and stay in our gaps and identify their schemes.”
The Sooner defensive front gets a huge boost with the return of tackle Casey Walker. With Walker back in the lineup, David King can now return to defensive end. Or in actuality, a defensive end hybrid, because he will continue to slide down to tackle in certain situations. The return of Walker could have a major impact in shutting down the Wildcat run game.
The keys for an Oklahoma win are simple, following your defensive assignments, be where you are supposed to be, and don't give up any big plays. If the Sooners can manage this defensively, then they win going away, 45-17.