Kansas State has a promise:
"They were 13-2 last year. We have our hand full this week against
McNeese State," said Wildcat fullback Travis Wilson. "We're guaranteed only so many games a year. It's important that we not take anyone for granted. We will play hard and try to improve on Saturday," said defensive end Andrew Shull. "I'm not overlooking these guys," said center Nick Leckey. "Bad things happen when you do that."
So, there you have it. No. 6/7 Kansas State will not overlook No. 1
(Division I-AA) McNeese State Saturday night when the teams collide
at KSU Stadium in a 6:10 kickoff. "We're just going to try to continue to get better," said Wildcat quarterback Ell Roberson. "It's a chance to develop consistency and a stepping stone to our next games."
And that's also exactly like the McNeese State Cowboys view the
game. "The No.1 thing is for our kids to focus and play hard," said
Cowboys'coach Tony Tate. "We have to focus on getting McNeese better. We're going to try to keep our focus on us."
McNeese, 13-2 last year as the Division I-AA national runner-up, is
a pass-happy gang having averaged 175 yards passing and 207 rushing
last year. Scott Pendarvis completed 56 percent of his passes with 16 TDs; Vick King was the top rusher with 1,103 yards, or 79 yards per game; Pendarvis' leading receiver was B.J. Sams with 46 catches and five scores.
All of those Cowboys return in 2003 with Pendarvis opening his year
completing 14 of 17 passes for 186 yards, Sams catching five passes
for 57 yards and King rushing for 62. "They are very, very fine players ... players who could play at the any level you want them to," said KSU coach Bill Snyder.
But, McNeese is a Division I-AA team that is allowed just 63
scholarships (compared to 85 in Division I-A), which leads Snyder to say, "It's difficult to have a full roster of Division I-A players. They've got guys who can play Division I-A football. Do they have the numbers that Division I-A schools do? For> the most part, no."
Kansas State counters with a roster full of big-time talents
starting at quarterback Ell Roberson. In two games, Roberson has completed 44 percent of his passes for 219 yards per game. He's also rushed for 214 yards and four scores. "He's the pilot of that offense and he's a good one," said Tate. "He can do it all. He's a dangerous rusher and he can throw the football. He's a special young man, but he's also surrounded by gifted players. "That includes running back Darren Sproles, who has rushed for 224 yards, which included a 175-yard opening game against California.
"Explosive," Tate said of Sproles. "So explosive."
And yes, Sproles, along with fullback Travis Wilson, are expected to
get starts after both leaving the game last week against Troy State in
the second quarter with injuries. With Sproles and Roberson being the focal point, Tate said, "We have to be great tacklers. We need a lot of people running to the football and be outstanding tacklers."
And on offense, Tate says his offense must be about to break a few
tackles. "Nobody rushes the football on them. Out of 13 games last year, 10
teams were held to under 100 yards," Tate said. "They force you to throw
the ball and then they pressure you when you try to throw the ball."
One of the Wildcats doing the pressuring will be Shull, who again
offered this promise: "They are Division I-AA, but every game counts. If we
lose, they are going to count it in the scorebook as a loss. The game matters."