Game week is finally here. K-State takes the field against Southeast Missouri State on Saturday. I’ll be in Manhattan with over 50,000 of my closest friends to watch the game. Here are five things I’ll be looking for out of the Wildcats.
1.) Can the Wildcats Win Convincingly?
Southeast Missouri is a great team on the FCS level and will likely have another successful season. That said, K-State is a contender for the Big 12 championship, and they need to show it in the first game by getting a convincing win against SEMO. An FBS team is supposed to beat an FCS team, so do it without leaving any doubt in anyone’s mind.
2.) How does Will Howard look?
Howard was sensational in the last few games last season, and I hope to see him continue that upward trajectory. He’s lost a couple of good receivers and a great running back, so it’s likely that more pressure will be on him this year than last. I look for him to get the offense going early and often, build a big lead, then sit on the bench in the 4th quarter.
3.) Who is the backup quarterback?
True freshman Avery Johnson is right there with Jake Rubley on the depth chart as the number two quarterback. Head coach Chris Klieman indicated that neither he nor offensive coordinator Collin Klien knows who their number two quarterback is. An ideal situation is if K-State builds a big lead in the game, and we get to see what both backup quarterbacks can do. This game may be the only opportunity for either to get mop-up duty.
4.) How do the running backs look?
DJ Giddens and Treshaun Ward are likely to split carries on Saturday, but I’m more concerned with the running game as a whole. Will they be able to replace the production of Deuce Vaughn? There is a lot of hype around Treshaun Ward, and I’m hoping he lives up to the hype.
5) Can the defensive line pressure the quarterback?
Losing defensive tackle Eli Huggins and Kansas City Chiefs first-round draft pick defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah is huge, but Chris Klieman has indicated that defensive ends Khalid Duke and Nate Matlack have been impressive in practices thus far. I’ll be watching closely to see what happens against real competition. If these five points have positive outcomes, I’ll feel a lot better about K-State’s prospects to defend their title.