Kansas State University

Kansas State tackles ways to end Baylor’s white-hot offense

Baylor receiver Tevin Reese wants to provide some context before he describes what it is like to be a part of the most explosive offense in college football.

Is it fun? Yes. Who wouldn’t want to average 70.5 points and 779.5 yards? The Bears can outscore basketball teams and make video-game numbers look average.

But, believe it or not, there is a downside.

“It’s bittersweet, because it’s really only fun for the first 30 minutes,” Reese said Monday during a phone interview. “You score so many points that you aren’t playing the second 30 minutes.”

This is the incredible challenge Kansas State’s defense will face on Saturday against No. 15 Baylor. The Bears are off to the hottest statistical start in recent memory. All four of their victories have been jaw-dropping blowouts: 69-3 over Wofford, 70-13 against Buffalo, 70-7 over Louisiana-Monroe and a 73-42 beatdown of West Virginia. They are averaging nearly 50 points in the first half, and could have put up larger numbers if not for sportsmanship.

Hence Reese’s minor complaint.

“The best thing about our offense is you are going out there and scoring every minute,” Reese said. “You are just balling and flying from sideline to sideline, running the ball, throwing the ball, it keeps you on your toes. You can’t be bored in this offense, because at any given time you can take the ball 85 yards for a touchdown.”

When K-State coach Bill Snyder says preventing Baylor from scoring 100 points is a legitimate challenge, he means it.

“I can’t tell you I can think of an offense that is seemingly more prolific than Baylor’s offense is,” Snyder said. “The numbers speak for themselves.”

The Wildcats are busy trying to create a strategy that will allow them to limit those numbers. They aren’t quite sure what it is yet, but they are confident they can surpass Wofford and hold the Bears to 68 points or fewer.

They are thinking positive for two main reasons. For starters, K-State’s defense is coming off its best performance, holding Oklahoma State’s potent attack to 330 yards and 33 points despite poor field position. And Baylor hasn’t taken its circus on the road yet. The Bears have lost eight of their last nine road games in Big 12 play, with the only victory coming at Kansas in overtime in 2011.

K-State defenders aren’t sure how many points it will take to beat Baylor, but they say their goal is the same it is every week, to win with a shutout.

“We just need to play sound defense,” safety Dante Barnett said. “A couple of the other teams on film were messing up on little mistakes. Next thing you know everything was behind them. Reading your keys, playing sound and running to the football are the keys to stopping this offense.”

Can it really be that simple?

This is an offense led by quarterback Bryce Petty, who has thrown 10 touchdowns and one interception. Lache Seastrunk, its top playmaker and the Big 12’s preseason offensive player of the year, is averaging 11.1 yards per carry. Receivers Antwan Goodley and Reese both average more than 100 yards. And it has a strong offensive line. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said the hardest thing about defending Baylor is it wins the line of scrimmage by five yards on every play.

Defenses have to respect the run and the pass. Baylor has a balanced attack. For now, though, K-State seems to be focusing on the run.

“We are going to have to stop them at the line,” defensive end Marquel Bryant said. “Trying to stop the run this week is big. (We have to) keep the guys inside so the defense can get there. If we can keep Seastrunk inside, we can give the secondary time to get there.”

Reese admits K-State’s defense will likely be the best Baylor has faced.

He welcomes the challenge.

“We didn’t work as hard as we did in the summer to play four games and average 70 points,” Reese said. “When we scored 69 against Wofford, people didn’t think we could do it again, but we’ve scored more points than that every week. If we continue to work hard, there is no doubt in my mind we can sustain this or maybe even go higher.”

Communication is key — Following a loss to Oklahoma State, receiver Kyle Klein said several of the team’s miscues could be blamed on communication.

“The coaches are calling one thing and then half the line is calling another thing,” Klein said. “Quarterback is saying something different and the wide receivers are getting a different signal, so we just need to communicate better as a team.”

On Tuesday, several players said crowd noise was a factor in Stillwater. Quarterback Daniel Sams was also seeing extensive action for the first time. They think a return home will solve those problems.

Lingering loss — A year ago, the only team that beat K-State in the regular season was Baylor. The Wildcats entered that game at 10-0, ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings. But a 52-24 loss knocked them out of the BCS championship conversation.

“We all understood that that game and that loss took away the opportunity to play for a national title,” center B.J. Finney said. “That is deflating for anybody.”

Snyder said K-State wasn’t properly prepared, and seemed emotionally down beforehand.

“We just weren’t emotionally well prepared for the game the way we should have been,” Snyder said.

Stiverson coming along — Boston Stiverson, a projected starter on K-State’s offensive line at right guard, has missed the entire season with a foot injury. But he may return soon. On Tuesday, Snyder said Stiverson (Andover Central) continues to make progress from his injury, and will likely block again this season. He said Stiverson will miss Saturday’s game against Baylor. He could be back in time for a home game against West Virginia on Oct. 26.