Kansas State does not lead the Big 12 in any major offensive or defensive category, which may seem a bit odd as the Wildcats are the leagues only undefeated and highest-ranked team.Youd figure they are doing something at the highest level that would top the statistical leaderboard. But other teams lead the passing, rushing and scoring lists on both sides of the ball.This is where statistics can be, as Mark Twain said, lies.Bill Snyders Wildcats go Saturday to West Virginia operating with such efficiency, especially on offense, that it requires a beyond-the-obvious numbers examination to understand how good theyve been this season.Well, some are obvious. K-State is best in the Big 12 when it comes to turnover margin. Theyve gained 14 and have lost four. Thats 10 to the good, divided by six games, for 1.67 turnovers gained per contest. The Mountaineers, also solid here, are second at 1.17.K-State is the leagues least-penalized team, even after last weeks nine-flag game at Iowa State. That doubled the Wildcats season total, but they continue to top the nation in fewest yards penalized (22) per game.So theres that, plus the usual stout special teams play that is widely that tends to go unnoticed outside of film room. Add it up and Kansas States success based on mastering footballs fundamental dos and donts comes into focus.Ive seen it this year and I went through it last year, said Chiefs rookie defensive back Tysyn Hartman, who finished his K-State career last season. They just dont beat themselves.Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads put it succinctly the week his team was preparing to play the Wildcats. The best way to win a game is not to lose it. Thats the ultimate compliment from a coach. Your team is so well structured, disciplined and organized that it doesnt beat itself.After K-State managed a 27-21 victory in Ames, Rhoads added another layer of praise because the Wildcats scored 17 points immediately after Iowa State had scored touchdowns.Think about that. The Cyclones jazzed their record home crowd of nearly 57,000 by sticking it into the end zone three times only to have the Wildcats burst the balloon on each occasion. The final drive was a the ultimate spirit killer: 14 plays and 8 minutes, 10 seconds off the clock after Iowa State had closed to 24-21, with Anthony Cantele kicking a short field goal.Once this season once has an opponent scored without Kansas State scoring next. Not always on the next drive, but on the 15 occasions when a team had scored a touchdown, field goal or safety, the next score in the game belonged to Kansas State 14 times.The only time it didnt happen was at Oklahoma, when the Sooners kicked a field goal late in the second quarter and scored a touchdown to open the second-half scoring. Otherwise, opponents dont feel good for long against the Wildcats.They dig in their cleats and know how to answer momentum shifts, Rhoads said.That ability will be tested to the max against West Virginia. A team that scored 70 and 69 in games this season can score in a hurry and apply pressure on both sides of the ball. As Baylor and Texas discovered, to get in a points parade with the Mountaineers isnt wise. Yet the Bears and Longhorns were powerless to stop them.Texas Tech stood its ground basically by having its defenders remain in front of West Virginia playmakers to prevent big gains. The Red Raiders lead the nation in fewest plays of 20 or fewer yards surrendered with eight. The Mountaineers had one.Kansas State ranks sixth in that department.Its easier said than done, Snyder said.True, but no team in the Big 12 has provided more answers this season than Kansas State. No mistake about it.
Posted on Thu, Oct. 18, 2012 05:30 PMShare Email Print Order Reprints
Forget what stats show; K-State does it right
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.