Less than a week removed from its loss to North Dakota State, the ISU football team has its sights set on another daunting opponent: The Kansas State Wildcats.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 20 in both the AP and Coaches polls, started last season in nearly identical fashion as the Cyclones have this year — a loss to North Dakota State in the season opener at home. The team bounced back, finishing 8-5 and winning a bowl game.
ISU players said last year’s Kansas State team was brought up a couple of times this week as an example of overcoming adversity, but some players said they didn’t need the motivation to keep focused.
“We know how to face adversity for the most part and we are ready to fight back,” said offensive lineman Daniel Burton. “We are all eager to get the win on Saturday.”
The team faced more adversity than it would have liked in week one with leading receiver Quenton Bundrage and center Tom Farniok leaving the game in the first quarter with injuries.
The offense fell apart with the shake-up along the offensive line. Quarterback Sam Richardson was sacked four times after Farniok left the game and the team went from averaging 7.0 yards per rush to 2.3 yards per rush.
“Things just weren’t really working for us,” Burton said. “[The offensive line is] definitely a 5-is-1 concept. If they don’t get their job done every play, there’s a pretty good chance the play won’t work out.”
Farniok is expected to play against Kansas State after resting for much of the week with a sprained MCL. Coach Paul Rhoads said Farniok practiced in full pads Wednesday for a while and was “satisfied” with his reps.
Rhoads described Farniok as the “glue” to the offense and his loss affected the team in its loss against against the Wildcats. If Farniok can play, there is no doubt he will.
“We won’t be bashful if he’s feeling good to let him go,” Rhoads said. “The thing about an injury like this is if you sit out, you stiffen up. If he’s able to go, resting is not always a positive thing.”
Farniok or no Farniok, the Cyclones will need to get their offense going after the defense struggled to stop North Dakota State. The Wildcats are notorious for their balanced offenses, and this season will likely be no different.
With a talented quarterback and receiving corps, Kansas State poses a challenge for a young ISU secondary while the defensive line will face its own challenges against Wildcat quarterback Jake Waters.
“It might be accurate to say they are a run-first team but they are very much a big-play pass offense,” Rhoads said. “They are going to take what you give them.”
The game will kickoff at 11 a.m. Saturday at Jack Trice Stadium.