Kansas State University

K-State gets its turn trying to stop OSU's star duo

MANHATTAN — Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder talks about Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon the way most people discuss their favorite movie.

No matter how many other talented quarterback-receiver combinations he comes across, none seem to compare to the Oklahoma State duo his Wildcats will face Saturday night.

Baylor's Robert Griffin and Kendall Wright, who hooked up nine times for 201 yards and three touchdowns five weeks ago at Snyder Family Stadium, were impressive, but K-State won that game. Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles were in sync from start to finish last week, connecting 14 times for 171 yards and a touchdown, but they benefited from flawless pass protection.

Weeden and Blackmon are simply at a higher level in Snyder's mind. Don't bother trying to convince him otherwise.

"I don't know that I've seen one like these two," Snyder said. "They really work well together."

That could be bad news for a K-State secondary that allowed 520 passing yards to the Sooners in a 58-17 loss last time out. Their chemistry is a big reason why the No. 3 Cowboys are 8-0.

Weeden, a 28-year old senior, has completed 246 of 345 passes for 2,710 yards and 22 touchdowns. Blackmon, a junior, has caught 74 of those passes for 834 yards and 10 touchdowns. Both are considered Heisman Trophy contenders.

No wonder Oklahoma State has the fourth-ranked passing offense in the country and averages nearly 50 points.

"Blackmon is a guy who just finds open areas," Snyder said. "It's not a matter of what the routes are. It's a matter of where you are defensively, and he gets somewhere else. He and Weeden work so well. Defensively, anytime there is an inkling they have a problem, he just looks for (Blackmon) and throws him the ball."

Since his return to the sideline in 2009, Snyder has been critical of teams that try to win exclusively with offense. But he sees no fault in Oklahoma State playing that way.

"They've got the best receiver in the country, arguably the best quarterback in the country," Snyder said. "They have the ability to do that.... That's the nature of the game. They're doing what suits their personnel."

Like it or not, it will be up to No. 17 K-State's defense to slow down Oklahoma State's offense. That is a task the Wildcats succeeded in a year ago when they matched up in Manhattan and held the Cowboys to 24 points and 511 yards. But Blackmon missed that game while serving a suspension.

Though no one on K-State's roster has defended Blackmon before, they will have past matchups with Wright and Broyles to help them prepare.

"These are all guys that are going to be playing next year on Sundays," said K-State cornerback Nigel Malone. "It's definitely a task guarding them. We come out and do the best we can and try to find a way to get the job done.

"... Going against these teams previously puts in a good position, seeing it over again and making sure we fit as far as tackling and getting to the ball."

K-State struggled in both areas against Oklahoma, which uses an offense similar to Oklahoma State's. Both teams operate out of the no-huddle and throw as often as possible.

When receivers are covered downfield, Weeden checks down to running back Joseph Randle, from Wichita Southeast, the same way Jones did with Roy Finch.

Cornerback David Garrett said K-State knew what the Sooners were going to do last week. The Wildcats just couldn't stop them. K-State's defensive line didn't sack Jones and its secondary struggled to keep up with four-receiver sets.

"We watched the film and knew what we had to do, we just didn't execute," Garrett said. "The defense, starting from the D-line to linebackers to secondary, we weren't on the same page."

K-State should be more motivated on Saturday. Players took their first loss hard and are eager to redeem themselves.

After listening to Snyder talk up Weeden and Blackmon all week, they know the challenge that lies ahead.

"They throw it to him, he catches it and runs it in the end zone," Snyder said of Blackmon. "That's just what he does. Some of the best have lined up against him and have had no success."