At about this time last year, Florida Atlantic quarterback Jason Driskel watched his brother scare the living daylights out of Kansas State fans.
Jeff Driskel nearly led Louisiana Tech to an upset victory over the Wildcats back then, falling 39-33 in triple overtime. K-State held on, but the game was much closer than expected. Jeff Driskel was a big reason, throwing for 314 yards and a touchdown while running for 42 yards and two touchdowns.
Is his younger brother capable of creating another frightening scene when Florida Atlantic plays at K-State Saturday?
“Believe it or not, Jason hasn’t mentioned his brother all week,” Florida Atlantic coach Charlie Partridge said in a phone interview. “I will ask him about Jeff every once in a while, but he really wants to leave his own legacy here. He is just too locked into the game plan to pay attention to anything else.”
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The topic certainly came up within K-State’s football offices this week.
“Driskel has got some heritage that allows him to be a pretty good player,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “Last year, we played against his brother, and I thought his brother was a very, very fine quarterback. This one, likewise, is that.
“He presents some problems because he is a scrambler. He is a good-sized young guy with strength in his lower body. He can stay on his feet. He’s not the easiest guy in the world to tackle. His scrambling ability makes him a dual-threat (quarterback). They certainly pose some issues.”
Jason Driskel is one of three prominent Florida Atlantic playmakers that K-State will focus on stopping. He completed 41 of 67 passes for 449 yards and two touchdowns in his first two games, guiding the Owls to a 38-30 victory against Southern Illinois and a 38-10 loss to Miami (Fla.).
The other two: running back Gregory Howell and receiver Kalib Woods.
Howell opened the season by rushing for 128 yards on 16 carries and followed that up with 75 yards and a touchdown against Miami. Woods had even more success against the Hurricanes, catching nine passes for 121 yards.
They are confident that against K-State they can build on those accomplishments.
“We are going to play our game and not worry about anything Kansas State does,” Woods said in a phone interview. “They have a good defense with 11 guys that play hard, but we will have success if we do what we are supposed to do as an offense.”
K-State’s defense was strong against the run in its opener, allowing Stanford to gain 105 yards on the ground. It was less effective against the pass, letting a pair of inexperienced quarterbacks complete 15 of 19 passes for 167 yards.
No matter what the numbers say, Florida Atlantic will try to keep a balanced approach.
“I’m a downhill runner and I’m going to come at you each and every down,” Howell said. “We have proved we are a versatile offense. I will do anything — run, catch, you name it. I just want to show that I’m hard-nosed. Our whole offense does.”
Will that approach be enough for Florida Atlantic, a 22-point underdog, to keep things close against K-State?
The answer may depend on whether Driskel can channel his older brother.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett
Florida Atlantic at Kansas State
WHEN: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
TV: Fox Sports KC
Three story lines
1. BACK AT HOME: K-State’s game against Florida Atlantic will mark the latest scheduled home opener since 1992. Even coach Bill Snyder says he is anxious to play in front of home fans again.
2. SEPTEMBER DOMINANCE: The Wildcats have been tough to beat in September in recent years. Since Snyder returned to the sideline in 2009, K-State has gone 20-5 in September.
3. MORE PLAYING TIME: Alex Delton and Dalvin Warmack could benefit from a lopsided score on Saturday. Snyder has said he wants to play both of them more.