Kansas State looks to out-muscle Arkansas State

Kansas State Wildcats
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Kansas State opens the 2020 football season with a matchup with Arkansas State on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

The Wildcats aim to continue the success they had last season under head coach Chris Klieman after a generation’s worth under Bill Snyder, who led the team in 27 of the previous 30 campaigns. The Red Wolves are looking to continue a nine-year bowl streak, the last six under head coach Blake Anderson.

Arkansas State (0-1) opened the season last week with a 37-24 loss at Memphis.

Arkansas State led Memphis 14-7 after one quarter, but the Tigers poured it on, leading by seven at halftime and by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter. The team stats were not that disparate, with Memphis gaining a total of 502 yards and the Red Wolves gaining 424. It was a matter of making the most of opportunities.

“We had a few opportunities to make it interesting and just missed those really good chances,” Anderson said after the game. “We had an opportunity to tie it up and we let them off the hook a couple of times. We really did not tackle well at all and have to do a better job of wrapping up.

“There were some miscommunications defensively, which we thought could be a concern with as many new bodies as we have there. Offensively, we didn’t match up great against how big they were up front.”

Size might be an issue for the Red Wolves in this game as well, especially when Kansas State has the ball. The Wildcats are replacing five senior offensive line starters from last year, but there is plenty of size with the guys who should start.

Offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham named his choices for four of the five starters in a Zoom call with reporters last Friday. Left tackle Kaitori Leveston, left guard Josh Rivas and center Noah Johnson are pretty certain. Right guard will probably be Ben Adler, and right tackle is “still a little bit of a work in progress,” Messingham said. “We feel really good about Cooper Beebe, Logan Long and Christian Duffie.”

Duffie was listed as the starter when Kansas State unveiled a depth chart earlier this week.

The starting offensive line comprising Leveston, Rivas, Johnson, Adler and Duffie would average 320.2 pounds. That would be K-State’s heaviest line in more than two decades.

The two Arkansas State quarterbacks had fairly even stats against Memphis, with Logan Bonner throwing for 133 yards but throwing the only touchdown pass. Layne Hatcher, the transfer from Alabama, threw for 166.

The two combined for 299 yards on 27-of-43 passing. Bonner threw two interceptions.

K-State doesn’t return a lot of starters, especially on offense. But senior quarterback Skylar Thompson is a key returnee. He adapted well to Klieman’s offense this year and seems ready to take the next step.

Thompson heads into his senior season joining his quarterbacks coach Collin Klein as the only quarterbacks in school history to rank in the top 10 all-time in passing yards (10th, 4,395), passing efficiency (seventh, 132.8), completion percentage (fourth, 59.5), rushing yards by a quarterback (fifth, 1,045), and touchdown responsibility (eighth, 45).

–Field Level Media

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