Originally Published: Oct 30, 2009 11:23 AM CDT
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Oklahoma Sports Staff Writer
NORMAN, Oklahoma – The return of Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has transformed his team from conference doormat into the current Big 12 North leader. The Sooners realize they must prepare for a vastly different and more confident team than the one they defeated 58-35 last season.
“Kansas State on film is a completely different team than last year. They’re way more physical,” said defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. “They’re going to run the ball, and we have to be ready for it. We had a real physical practice today preparing for the run ? Their O-Line is big, strong and they play real hard, so we’ve got to be ready for it.”
The Wildcats (5-3, 3-1) have improved dramatically in the running game, with tailback Daniel Thomas leading the Big 12 with 814 yards. At the end of last season, Kansas State’s leading rusher had just 412 yards.
“They’re doing an excellent job. You watch them, and it’s what you’d expect to see from Coach Snyder’s team,” said OU head coach Bob Stoops. “Offensively, they’re very physical running the football, creating every way possible to run the ball and trying to get some play-action passing off of it.”
The OU defense will also have to account for dangerous receiver and return man Brandon Banks, who burned the Sooners for 145 yards and a 77-yard touchdown last year.
This season, Banks leads the Wildcats in receiving with 33 catches for 368 yards, and has added three kickoff returns for touchdowns. He is second in the Big 12 with 162 all-purpose yards per game, trailing only Kansas’ Dezmon Briscoe.
“He got a bunch of yards on us last year,” said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables. “Very explosive player; it doesn’t take him much to get away and to turn nothing into a whole lot of something. In the special teams, he’s a game changer ? We’re going to have our hands full trying to contain him.”
The Kansas State defense has also played much better the last two weeks, after giving up 66 points in their lone Big 12 loss to Texas Tech. In their last two games, the Wildcats have held Texas A&M and Colorado to a combined 20 points.
“Defensively, they’ve really stepped in up the last few weeks in how they’ve played,” Bob Stoops said. “They’re aggressive and playing well, right there at the top or middle part of the league in most defensive categories.”
Kansas State has already tied its overall win total and surpassed its conference win total from last season.
“Very well-coached football team, so, like always, it’s another challenging week here at home,” Stoops said.
Home is a place where Stoops has not lost since 2005, a streak of 28 consecutive wins.
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