PFB - KSU Preview: Four Players to Watch as Oklahoma State takes on the Wildcats

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Feb 17, 2018
Oklahoma State is getting set to take on the Kansas State Wildcats this weekend in Manhattan. To preview the game, I wanted to take a look at key players on both sides of the ball for the Wildcats.

Alex Barnes | RB | 6-1, 225 | Jr.

Barnes is currently ranks second in the Big 12 in total rushing yards after a 250 -yard, three-touchdown performance last weekend in Waco. The junior running back had only rushed for over 100 yards one other time this season, the opener against South Dakota. He was able to find holes in the Bears defense, and once he got to the second level, he was pretty much gone.

Barnes is a physical runner at 225 pounds, but he also makes smooth cuts and has great top speed as you can see in the clip above.

Last season in Stillwater, the Wildcats made Barnes a focal point of their offense giving him the ball a total of 22 times, which is tied for his second-most carries ever in a single game. He turned those 22 attempts into 86 yards and a touchdown. Now 3.9 yards per carry isn’t great, but when you combine that with 93 yards on the ground from quarterback Skylar Thompson, it was a pretty solid rushing day overall for the Wildcats.

Skylar Thompson | QB | 6-2, 205 | So.

Kansas State has experienced some uncertainty at the quarterback position all season. Skylar Thompson was named the starter at the end of fall camp, but there were rumors that Snyder wanted to go with Alex Delton. Snyder loves the quarterback run game, which is why he is partial to the more mobile of the two in Delton. However, Thompson is a capable runner himself, as he showed a year ago against the Cowboys.

Although the sophomore QB hasn’t had any spectacular games passing this season, he displayed the ability to get the job done through the air last year in Stillwater. He was 10 of 13 for 204 yards, three TDs and no interceptions.

With Delton possibly unavailable this Saturday due to injury, it sounds like K-State might look to run Thompson less than normal and possibly let him air it out a little more.

Snyder says they might not run Skylar as much without Delton available, “but we have to have that phase of the game.” #KStateFB

— Derek Smith
(@dereksmith) October 9, 2018

The Wildcats will always incorporate the quarterback running game into their offense though. So, even though Snyder mentioned the possibility of fewer QB runs in their game plan, I would still expect to see plenty of designed carries, such as the Quarterback Power, and read-options.

Note: Before moving to defense, I wanted to mention that Kansas State has a very skilled offensive line. They’ve had their share of struggles this season, but they are one of the most talented units in the Big 12. They are led by one of the best tackle duos in the country in Dalton Risner (6-5, 308) and Scott Frantz (6-5, 295), and they will be a tough matchup for Jim Knowles and the Cowboy defense.

Duke Shelley | CB | 5-9, 180 | Sr.

The senior cornerback is one of the most experienced players on this Kansas State defense and has improved his play every year he’s been on the Wildcat roster. Shelley is currently tied for 12th in the nation in passes defended this season and recorded his first interception of the year last week against Baylor.

In addition to defending well in coverage, Shelley isn’t afraid to head downhill towards the line of scrimmage and make a play. He ranks fifth on the team in total tackles with 27, including one tackle for loss.

Kansas State runs a lot of soft Cover 2, Cover 3 and Cover 4 zone, but they will run some Cover 1 and Cover 0. When they have their cornerbacks in man coverage, I expect Shelley will get the assignment of sticking with talented OSU wideout Tylan Wallace, which will be an interesting matchup to keep an eye on.

Wyatt Hubert | DE | 6-3, 250 | RS-Fr.

The athletic defensive end will have his work cut out for him this weekend as he will be without fellow defensive end Reggie Walker for the first half due to a targeting call Walker received against Baylor. However, he’s shown through the first half of this season that he’s up to the task, recording 14 total tackles, including 1.5 sacks and an interception.

He’s had several very solid performance this season, and even made the Pro Football Focus All-Big 12 defensive team in Week 2.

Examine the Week 2 Team of the Week on defense in the Big 12 one last time – we're inching closer to the weekend!

— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 14, 2018

The Cowboy offensive line will have their work cut out for them on Saturday trying to slow Hubert down, and it will get even tougher once Walker returns in the second half.

The post KSU Preview: Four Players to Watch as Oklahoma State takes on the Wildcats appeared first on Pistols Firing.

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