Charlotte at Kansas State

Sports Xchange

September 06, 2017 at 5:37 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, Kan.
TV: Fox Sports Net
SERIES: First meeting
RANKINGS: Kansas State No. 19

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wildcats

–CB/KR D.J. Reed returned the opening kickoff 96 yards before he was dragged down at the 4-yard line in the season-opening win over Central Arkansas. Reed also broke a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown. Defensively, the All-Big 12 cornerback was in on seven tackles and also grabbed an interception. Reed began returning kicks late last season after also establishing himself as a lockdown defender.

–WR Byron Pringle enjoyed his third consecutive 100-yard performance, despite catching just three passes against Central Arkansas. He finished with 121 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown. A year ago in the Wildcats’ Texas Bowl victory against Texas A&M, Pringle sailed for a 79-yard TD catch early in the game. He will continue to be a deep threat, though opponents may adjust soon for Pringle’s speed.

–DE Tanner Wood had a rough game moving into the lineup for last year’s Big 12 defensive player of the year, Jordan Willis, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals. Wood and other Kansas State defenders were consistently fooled on misdirection plays Central Arkansas ran off option looks. Wood was in on four tackles, but the Wildcats allowed far too much on the ground after leading the Big 12 last year in rush defense.

49ers

–LB Karrington King, a senior who began his career as a walk-on, is within two tackles of the 49ers all-time record, held by the 49ers’ first NFL player, Larry Ogunjobi. King has 215 career tackles after making 10 in the opener.

–QB Hasaan Klugh rushed for a career-best 101 yards at EMU. He joins Matt Johnson (150 vs. NC Central; 105 at Morehead State) as the only other quarterback in school history to rush for at least 100 yards — and Klugh is the first to have that achievement against an FBS foe.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

The old expression might be, “you can’t go home again,” but for Charlotte head football coach Brad Lambert and his defensive coordinator, Matt Wallerstedt, maybe it should be, “you can go home again, but it probably won’t be a lot of fun.”

Lambert played at Kansas State from 1983-86. He was an academic All-Big 8 selection from 1984-86 and was a second-team All-Big 8 defensive back in 1986. Wallerstedt played linebacker for the Wildcats during that same era.

Now the two men will lead the Charlotte 49ers into Manhattan for a match-up with No. 19 Kansas State on Saturday. Kansas State is loaded on offense, and the defense is stout too. It won’t be easy for Charlotte in just its third season in FBS.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been back there for a game,” Lambert said. “The place is completely different. They’ve added a lot to the stadium and built a new building in the end zone. Coach Wallerstedt coached there (in the mid-2000s), so he’s got a real good feel for the environment that’s there on game day.

“It’s going to be emotional; my dad is going to be there, and I’m looking forward to that. It’s really about these guys and the play on the field. It’s a good opportunity for our guys to go out there and knock somebody off.”

It won’t be a reunion for Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder, as he took over the moribund program after the 1988 season. But he still has tremendous respect for the job Lambert and his staff have done in building the program at Charlotte.

“From a defensive standpoint, they are a physical team up front,” Snyder said. “They have athletic players in the back end that can get up and press on your wide receivers. They have a physical secondary in that respect. Schematically, they are sound. They are a bigger blitz team than what we have seen.

“From an offensive standpoint, I like the progress that they have made with their offensive line. They have a mobile offensive line that runs well. They have a good running back that can run downhill well, but the key to their offense is the quarterback. He is very talented. He is probably a 4.6 (second 40-yard dash) or better. He has good range and runs well. They have option football, which was a nemesis for us last week.”

Charlotte lost its opener, 24-7 at Eastern Michigan. While the defense gave up big yards on the ground and through the air, the offense was hampered by three turnovers and 11 penalties.

Redshirt junior quarterback Hasaan Klugh rushed for a career-high 101 yards, passing for 114. Trent Bostick caught his 10th career touchdown for Charlotte’s only score, and senior linebacker Karrington King recorded 10 tackles to close in on Charlotte’s all-time record. Jeff Gemmell led the 49ers with 14 tackles.

Kansas State is coming off a 55-19 season-opening victory over Central Arkansas. The game was close midway through the second quarter before K-State ran off 21 straight points to close the first half. KSU outscored Central Arkansas 38-3 from that point.

Kansas State was led by quarterback Jesse Ertz, who had the best passer rating for a single game (319.8) in the school’s history. He threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against the Bears. Three of Ertz’s touchdowns went for more than 50 yards, and not just because receivers gained a lot of yards after the catch. He frequently found receivers behind the Bears’ secondary.

KSU gave up 201 yards on the ground against Central Arkansas, but Snyder is confident that will be corrected by Saturday.

“Some of the bootleg-type plays and misdirected passes were something we had difficulty with,” he said. “The fact that the young guy completed 77 percent of his passes was a substantial number against us. I do not want us to have that kind of difficulty.

“It is more difficult for young people (to improve throughout the season). If they have that passion for the game and being the best they can be and buy into the process of daily improvement, then it manages itself pretty well. Normally, there are some dips in the road as you go, but if you start here and end up here, that is a very positive direction.”