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Kansas State area media

From the Manhattan, Kan., Mercury. Note final paragraph about life getting easier for the Wildcats next week – when the Owls arrive:

Go Figurs: K-State by one
Mark Janssen Sports Editor
9/3/2006 8:46:30 AM
It was a "special" victory.

After all, any first win carries some significance.

But after this one to open the 2006 season and the Ron Prince era, the 33rd head football coach of the K-State Wildcats was counting his blessings … at least 33 times.

Prince has been talking up the importance of special teams play since he landed in the Flint Hills, but little did he know that in his first game his team would score 24 points, none of which would come from the offense ? or for that matter, the defense.

"We know that special teams can change a game," said Byron Garvin, who had the play of the game with a 9-yard return of a fumble on an Illinois State kickoff return. "Marcus (Perry) made the hit, and I was in the right place."

Jeff Snodgrass, who accounted for 10 points with three field goals ? 52, 41 and 30 yards ? and an extra point, called it a "Rockhurst thing.

"I was standing on the sideline with Marcus (who like Snodgrass is a graduate of Rockhurst High School in Kansas City) and told him he had to go make a play," Snodgrass said. "He did it, and we won."

Yes, with special teams scoring all 24 points, K-State did edge Illinois State, 24-23, Saturday night at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, allowing the 47,250 fans to leave unsure about the future, but relieved for the moment.

Snodgrass had the field goals, Yamon Figurs an 81-yard punt return, and Garvin the return following the fumble.

If one wants to be kind, give the offense credit for a 2-point Dylan Meier to Rashaad Norwood conversion, but that's it on a night when the West Coast Offense was limited to just 207 yards on 54 snaps.

"I wasn't pleased with any part of our offense," Prince said. "I think we can do better."

It's the first time K-State left a game without an offensive touchdown since losing to Syracuse in the 2001 Insight.com Bowl, 26-3.

K-State had just narrowed the Illinois State lead to one, 17-16, on Snodgrass' third field goal of the game, a 30-yarder, with 8:36 remaining.

On the ensuing kickoff, Jason Horton felt the bruising hit by Perry with Garvin scooping up the loose ball at the 9-yard-line and doing an acrobatic dive into the end-zone, which cost the Wildcats an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

K-State went for two on the conversion for a 24-17 lead with 8:25 left.

"We talk all the time about GAP plays … game altering plays … and a disproportionate amount of those plays in the kicking game showed up tonight," said ISU coach Denver Johnson.

Garvin's ill-advised swan dive cost the Wildcats field position, helping the Redbirds score with 3:02 left on a Luke Drone to Pierre Jackson 3-yard pass to make it 24-23.

Going for the win, Drone was stopped trying to scramble up the middle for the go-ahead 2-point conversion.

"We didn't come here to tie the game," Johnson said. "Our best chance to win was right there. I'd do it a hundred times in a row."

The lead changed hands three times, and the score was tied twice ? at 3 and 10.

K-State led at the half 10-3, thanks to Figurs' 81-yard punt return for a touchdown with 1:55 remaining.

"We practice the punt return over and over and it happened just like it did in practice," Figurs said. "Devin Anderson had a good block and everyone else set up a perfect wall."

Anderson was burned for a 70-yard reception by Pierre Jackson on the opening series of the second half that moved the ball to the KSU 6. Three plays later, Drone threw a 4-yard TD pass to Laurent Robinson.

With the KSU offense still out of sync, the defense came up with a big play as Kyle Williams tipped a Drone pass, and Zach Diles snared the easy interception.

K-State then moved the ball just 10 yards in seven snaps, but Snodgrass put the Wildcats back on top, 13-10, with a 41-yard 3-pointer with 4:35 remaining in the third quarter.

That advantage lasted only to ISU's next possession, which drained 7 minutes from the clock and covered 80 yards. Drone riddled the Wildcats' defense, with the final 2 yards coming on a pass to Robinson for his school-record 24th career TD, giving the visitors a 17-13 edge.

K-State had almost no running game, totaling 44 ground yards on 28 attempts. Carlos Alsup led the way with 26 yards on 14 carries, while newcomers Leon Patton and James Johnson had 22 and 10 yards, respectively.

"I wasn't pleased with my performance, but we fought hard," Alsup said. "We came out with a W."

"We had none and they had one," Prince said of the running game. "They dictated the terms of the game with the way they ran the ball (121 yards)."

Prince offered special praise to end Ian Campbell, who recorded eight tackles, including five for negative yards and three sacks.

Life gets a tad easier for the Wildcats next week as Florida Atlantic, ranked No. 117 among the 117 Division I-A teams, will visit Bill Snyder Family Stadium for a 6:10 kick-off.
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Kansas State area media

Life gets a tad easier for the Wildcats next week as Florida Atlantic, ranked No. 117 among the 117 Division I-A teams, will visit Bill Snyder Family Stadium for a 6:10 kick-off.

Huh, what!! ??? ??? >:( :(

Life gets easier when you almost lose to a AA college team and a 1A team is next? ??? This doesn't include the fact that FAU has beaten ISU twice while we were both 1AA teams, and quite substantialy I might add.

I hope big time that Kansas takes on that attitude this week when they prepare for the game.

Obviously this guy doesn't keep up with the news.

"ranked No. 117 among the 117 Division I-A teams".

Its been 2 years since FAU and FIU went up to 1A.

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Kansas State area media

The writer feels that escaping with a win vs a D1-AA team is something for a D1-A team to build on. :-[
I'm sure that they will be better prepared for us next weekend. He probably learned his lesson.

ISU was actually leading late in this game!!!! "Any given Saturday" must be having a blast right now.
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Kansas State area media

After our showing against Clemson, our boys should feel pretty good about themselves and come away with a W. If we don't win, I expect this game to be VERY close.
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Kansas State area media

Here is the Kansas City Star's pre-season look at Kansas State. Note game predictions, as well as slight detail re defensive scheme.

Posted on Sun, Aug. 27, 2006

Kansas State

The Kansas City Star

2005 RESULTS: 5-6 overall, 2-6 and sixth in the Big 12 North

OUTLOOK: Coach Ron Prince enters his first season as a head coach, and that is as much of a question mark as any position battle. The West Coast offense is a new wrinkle at K-State, and playmakers such as wide receiver Jordy Nelson and running back Thomas Clayton should get plenty of chances to shine. And its Tampa Bay Cover 2 defense will feature a more aggressive style in which speed will be mandated to help make it work.

PIVOTAL MOMENT: K-State will see how it measures up on a big stage Sept. 23 when No. 13 Louisville comes to Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Raheem Morris. Nobody can question the enthusiasm and energy of Morris, K-State?s defensive coordinator. He promises a fast, attacking style on a side of the ball where the last two seasons K-State has performed well below its previous standards. ?We all know we?ve had great defenses in the past, and we think our group can be of that same caliber,? linebacker Zach Diles said. ?He (Morris) will get us there.?

NO WORRY: Nelson. The junior wide receiver is a hard-working gem with a great attitude and talent to match. Don?t be stunned to see him playing on Sundays after his college career ends.

MUST WORRY: It?s the same as 2005 ? the defensive line. The pass rush was almost non-existent last year, and it cost K-State in a big way. Two up-and-coming guys, ends Ian Campbell and Eric Childs, need to help take the rush to another level.


[Writer Blair Kerkhoff?s prediction at right]

Sept. 2 Illinois St. 6:10 p.m. W
Sept. 9 Fla. Atlantic 6:10 p.m. W
Sept. 16 Marshall 11:30 a.m. W
Sept. 23 Louisville TBA L
Sept. 30 at Baylor TBA L
Oct. 7 Oklahoma St. TBA W
Oct. 14 Nebraska TBA L
Oct. 21 at Missouri TBA L
Oct. 28 Iowa St. TBA L
Nov. 4 at Colorado TBA L
Nov. 11 Texas TBA L
Nov. 18 at Kansas TBA L

TICKETS: 800-221-2287

2005 Opponent Result
Fla. Intl. W, 35-21
at Marshall W, 21-19
North Texas W, 54-7
at Oklahoma L, 43-21
Kansas W, 12-3
at Texas Tech L, 59-20
Texas A&M L, 30-28
Colorado L, 23-20
at Iowa St. L, 45-17
at Nebraska L, 27-25
Missouri W, 36-28

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Kansas State area media

ISU had some success against the TB Cover 2. They exposed something that FAU will be evaluating this week.
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Kansas State area media

From the Topeka, Kan., Vapital-Journal. Note paragraph fourth from bottom about a senior returning to the offensive backfield backfield for the FAU game:

Published Sunday, September 3, 2006

Uncomfortable, but it's a victory

Special teams help Wildcats survive scare

By Tim Bisel
The Capital-Journal

MANHATTAN – Uh-oh! Really now, what more can you say?

Technically, Ron Prince's Kansas State debut will go down in the history books as a success. He'll always be known as the 19th Wildcat coach to start his career with a victory.

But for the crowd of 47,250 that showed up Saturday night at Snyder Family Stadium, this night might be remembered differently.

Sure, the Wildcats rallied to knock off Division I-AA Illinois State, 24-23. Yes, Marcus Perry forced a fourth-quarter fumble on a kickoff and Byron Garvin returned it 12 yards for the game-winning score.

Yes, too, Yamon Figurs was truly special on special teams, and Ian Campbell saved the day by stopping Redbird quarterback Luke Drone's potential game-winning run on two-point conversion attempt with only 3:02 remaining.

Still, I-AA teams aren't supposed to put this type of scare into Big 12 programs. Not even if they are ranked No. 9 in the nation.

Remember, it was only two years ago when K-State defeated another Gateway Conference member, Western Kentucky, by the narrow margin of 27-13. That struggle foreshadowed a 4-7 finish that marked the Wildcats' first losing season in 12 years.

Also keep this in mind: K-State will face a bird of a much different feather in three short weeks when the No. 13 Louisville Cardinals visit the Little Apple.

"I don't think we played well, but we did win," Prince said. "I think our team will have a healthy respect for how hard it is to win."

K-State won thanks in large part to a pair of special teams plays.

First, Figurs scored the Wildcats' first touchdown of the season on an 81-yard punt return with just under five minutes remaining in the first half. The play allowed K-State to take a 10-3 lead into intermission.

But as good as Figurs was – he finished with 202 return yards – Perry and Garvin turned in the decisive special teams effort.

With the Wildcats trailing 17-16 following Jeff Snodgrass' third field goal of the day, Perry forced Illinois State's Jason Horton to fumble the ensuing kickoff at the 12-yard line. Garvin scooped up the ball at the 9 and made a celebratory dive into the end zone to put K-State on top with 8:25 left.

Quarterback Dylan Meier, who was intercepted twice but finished 15-of-22 passing for 163 yards, followed by hitting Rashaad Norwood on a two-point conversion pass to give the Wildcats a 24-17 edge.

Turns out, they needed every bit of it.

Garvin drew a 15-yard penalty for making his drive, forcing Snodgrass to kick off from his own 20. The Redbirds capitalized when Pierre Rembert returned the kick 33 yards to the K-State 47.

Ten plays later, Drone hit halfback Dave Mordis for a 14-yard completion on fourth-and-9 from the 17. On the next play, Drone found Pierre Jackson wide open in the right corner to make it 24-23 with 3:02 to play.

But K-State's Campbell came to the rescue when ISU coach Denver Johnson made a questionable decision to go for the win. Campbell, a 6-foot-5, 232-pound sophomore, smothered ISU's Drone about 2 yards shy of the end zone.

"Ian Campbell was terrific," Prince said. "I think it would be hard to say he was not the defensive player of the game."

ISU received one more chance, starting its final drive from the K-State 20 with just over a minute to play. But Campbell recorded a sack on first down, and Drone's fourth-down pass – a deep ball intended for Horton – sailed incomplete.

Although the Redbirds fell short, they did show why they are ranked among the nation's top I-AA teams. Drone completed 24 of 38 passes for 253 yards and three TDs – including two to reigning Gateway Conference player of the year Laurent Robinson – and Pierre Rembert added 105 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Perhaps most troubling for K-State, though, was that the Redbirds' defense gave K-State's inexperienced offensive line fits throughout the game. Meier was constantly forced to throw under pressure, and the Wildcats managed a meager 44 rushing yards on 28 attempts.

"My hat is off to Illinois State," Prince said. "I don't think it's so much what our players didn't do. I think it was what they did."

The good news for K-State is that senior Thomas Clayton will return to the offensive backfield next week against Florida Atlantic.

And, of course, that they survived in Prince's debut, even if the victory did raise concerns about every facet of the Wildcats' game except special teams.

So, can the Wildcats celebrate?

"Absolutely," Campbell said. "A win's a win. A lot of D-I teams playing a I-AA may have backed down and said, 'I can't believe this is happening.' But they're a solid team. I knew they had playmakers, and they did a good job."

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From the Wichita, Kan., Eagle:

Posted on Sun, Sep. 03, 2006

K-State escapes with victory

The Wichita Eagle

MANHATTAN - The first play of the first game of the new era of Kansas State football was a pass thrown by Dylan Meier, a pass Illinois State safety Tom Nelson intercepted Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium.

The second series was a three-and-out resulting in a punt. The initial first down was registered with 5:15 remaining in the first quarter.

Things never got much better, even though the Wildcats managed to escape the Division I-AA Redbirds' upset bid with a 24-23 triumph. The loss extended Illinois State's consecutive losses to I-A opponents to 14 games; the Redbirds' last win came in 1991, a 25-3 win against Akron.

Clearly, Ron Prince's debut wasn't the rousing success he was hoping for, but – as Prince and several players explained afterwards – it was still a win.

"Obviously, our goal coming in was to play well and win," Prince said. "I don't think we did the first."

On a day that began with the stadium's dedication to Bill Snyder, the greatest coach in school history, it ended with the 47,250 fans in attendance processing what they'd just witnessed from his successor.

But there were no complaints from the fans on K-State's timeliest play, which came with the Wildcats trailing, 17-13, with about eight minutes to go in regulation. ISU wide receiver Jason Horton fielded a kickoff inside the 20, but he coughed the ball directly up in the air after a collision with K-State's Marcus Perry. Byron Garvin scooped the ball up, ran towards the end zone and dove in for the go-ahead 12-yard score.

Meier hit tight end Rashaad Norwood (five catches for 53 yards) in the flat with a pass for the two-point conversion, giving K-State a 24-17 lead.

But Illinois State (0-1) roared back, with quarterback Luke Drone (24 of 38 for 253 yards, three touchdowns), who was excellent Saturday, finding Pierre Jackson from four yards out for the touchdown. The Redbirds, down 24-23, decided to go for the win, attempting a two-point conversion. Drone dropped back, found no one open and took off. He was stopped short, leaving ISU down a point.

"We didn't come here to tie the game," Illinois State coach Denver Johnson said. "Our best chance to win was right there at the three-yard line, going for two. I'd do it a hundred times in a row in that situation."

The ensuing on-sides kick was also unsuccessful. But K-State (1-0) was able to hold on – barely. The Wildcats had to give up the ball, but the defense stiffened when it counted most, making one last stand.

"We got to get better, man," said K-State linebacker Zach Diles, who intercepted Drone. "They found holes where we messed up, and we have to correct that."

Overall, it was a below-average day for Meier (15 of 26 for 163 yards), who tossed another interception in the second quarter, again pilfered by Nelson.

"I don't know if that's the best Dylan Meier that we will see," Prince said. "I can be honest with you – I've seen better."

The offense was brutal – K-State ran 28 times for 44 yards. And the defense wasn't anything special, with the notable exception of Ian Campbell (eight tackles, including five for a loss, and three sacks) allowing the Redbirds to go virtually unimpeded up and down the field.

If not for the special teams, who knows how this game ends.

"We were fortunate to slide by and get the win," K-State safety Marcus Watts said.

Illinois State took a 3-0 lead 5:18 into the game on Kevin Mazur's 35-yard field goal. Kansas State had a chance to tie just before the end of the first quarter, but Jeff Snodgrass pushed his 38-yard attempt to the left. Snodgrass redeemed himself in the second quarter, connecting on a 53-yarder with 4:54 left in the first half.

Just when it looked like the teams would enter halftime tied at 3, Yamon Figurs took advantage of Bobby Kelsey's low punt and raced 81 yards up the right sideline – untouched – for a touchdown. Prince, who showed minimal emotion following Meier's two interceptions, gave chase to Figurs in delight, jogging at least 20 yards with his arm extended toward the sky.

It was the first touchdown of the new era, a throwback of sorts to the previous era.

Drone and Laurent Robinson (nine catches for 77 yards, two touchdowns), whom Watts said was the best receiver he has faced regardless of level, hooked up twice for touchdowns in the third quarter. The first, a four-yard toss, tied the game at 10. The second, a two-yarder with only 2:25 left, lifted the visitors to a 17-13 lead.

"Anytime anyone plays one-on-one against Laurent Robinson, we feel like he's going to win every time," Drone said.

As expected, though, the home team bounced back. The new era began with a victory, which is something the previous era, under the man whose name following Saturday's ceremony plastered on the stadium, was unable to do.

While it wasn't particularly impressive, it was just the first game. And yes, it was still a win.

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Kansas State area media

I picked this game to be our first OOC game win this year and I think based on K-State's performance this week it's very possible. We moved the ball for 263 total yards against a very good defense, K-State had 207 against a AA team. I hope that writer's attitude that it gets easier for them next week catches on so we could not only win but put alot of points on the board.

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Kansas State area media

From the Topeka, Kan., Capital Journal:

Published Monday, September 4, 2006

Bottom line: Cats' Campbell shines

By Austin Meek
The Capital-Journal

MANHATTAN – The search for positives in Kansas State's 24-23 victory against Illinois State yields two obvious results: Ian Campbell and special teams.

Special teams may have affected the game in more tangible ways, as they accounted for all 24 of K-State's points (three Jeff Snodgrass field goals, an 81-yard punt return by Yamon Figurs and a fumbled kickoff returned for a touchdown by Byron Garvin).

Campbell, a 6-foot-5, 232-pound defensive end, was every bit as important to the final outcome, however.

Campbell tallied eight solo tackles, including five behind the line of scrimmage, but the stat sheet doesn't tell the whole story. Campbell's impeccable timing was perhaps his biggest contribution.

After the Redbirds pulled to within a point with three minutes left in the game, Campbell snuffed out Illinois State's two-point conversion attempt, wrapping up quarterback Luke Drone two yards shy of the end zone.

Then, after Illinois State forced a three-and-out, Campbell sacked Drone on first down. Three plays later, the Wildcats were lining up in the victory formation.

"That was big, just to make a stop," Campbell said of his sack on the final series. "The game was almost over with that."

Campbell finished the game with three sacks, one shy of the school record. Nothing makes a defensive lineman's eyes light up like an open shot at the quarterback's blind side, and Campbell had several of them on Saturday.

"It's really exciting as long as he (the quarterback) doesn't step up too quick or throw the ball before you get there," Campbell said. "As long as he's still got it when you hit him, it's a good feeling. I can't say there's much sweeter in football."

Coach Ron Prince said he expected Campbell, a former walk-on from the small southwest Kansas town of Cimarron, to bring that big-play ability to the K-State defense.

"One of the things I saw in the spring was his motor and his tenaciousness," Prince said. "It's why we rewarded him with a scholarship.

"Pass rush is as much desire as anything else, and Ian has that."

Prince noted the importance of having a solid running game and a strong pass rush in the fourth quarter. While Campbell provided the latter, the former was noticeably absent, not only in the fourth quarter, but throughout the game. K-State mustered just 44 rushing yards on 28 attempts.

"The running game was a non-factor," Prince said. "We had none, and they had one."

The passing game wasn't much better. Quarterback Dylan Meier threw for 163 yards and two interceptions with constant pressure from the Illinois State pass rush.

Meier, who sat out all of last season with a shoulder injury, refused to blame the offensive struggles on his long rehab.

"Shaking off the rust, that's in the past," Meier said. "I've shaken off all my rust. It's time to go out and play better."

The running game should be bolstered by the return of senior running back Thomas Clayton, who sat out the season opener for disciplinary reasons. However, lingering questions on the offensive line could force the Wildcats to lean heavily on Campbell and the defense.

Campbell doesn't mind carrying the flag. On Saturday, he did it both literally and figuratively.

A few minutes before kickoff, Prince informed Campbell that he would carry the Kansas flag when the Wildcats took the field.

"That meant a lot to me, coming from Kansas and being from a small town," Campbell said. "You've got to go out there and represent your town and your state. It was really important to me."

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