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Oklahoma vs. Kansas State Q&A with Jon Morse of Bring on the Cats

Photo by Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

Most believe that Kansas State’s current roster availability dilemma involves the secondary.

With the Oklahoma Sooners (hopefully) set to kick off Big 12 play against the Kansas State Wildcats this Saturday, we welcome Jon Morse of Bring on the Cats to preview the matchup.

Following the loss to Arkansas State, what are the fan base’s current expectations for Big 12 play? Do you see this result as an outlier during a weird season, or is there cause for concern moving forward in 2020 (other than the obvious causes for concern)?

What everyone forgets is that we started worrying about this season halfway through 2019. The Cats graduated their two best running backs, their most experienced receiver, the entire starting offensive line, the biggest guy on the defensive line, most of the linebackers, and an incredible punter.

That’s a hard cupboard to reload.

Now, the starters moving in to fill the vacuum are fine. I think we’ve all figured out that K-State’s 22 best guys can compete with just about any other school’s 22 best. The problem in Manhattan is that you’re not going to get three- and four-star guys who are particularly willing to sit around for three years waiting for their shot the way they might at Oklahoma or Alabama.

And that’s where the real problem was against Arkansas State. BetweenCOVID and actual injuries during the game, the Wildcats were exposed.Take away the virus, and things don’t look nearly as terrible.

Chris Klieman’s first season obviously went a bit better than most expected, so how are you and other K-State fans currently feeling about the direction of the program? Does a season-opening loss in a weird season like this even have the slightest impact on that view?

Nah. Except for a few numbskulls who are never satisfied anyway, pretty much the entire commentariat checked out on this season during the summer. I don’t mean that to say they don’t care or aren’t watching — they’ve just tucked their expectations away for 2021.

What do you think the state of Kansas State football would look like if the school had hired Seth Littrell instead of Klieman? Does the fan base feel like K-State possibly dodged a bullet on that one?

It’s sure worrisome to see a coach in his fourth year go 4-8, isn’t it?Especially with a phenomenal talent like Mason Fine (who played high school ball just down the road from me in Locust Grove) under center. It sort of indicates that a lot of the success North Texas had in 2017-18had a lot to do with Dan McCarney.

Yeah, I think we’re okay with how things worked out.

I must admit, it took witnessing maybe two or three Deuce Vaughn touches to give me more than a bit of Darren Sproles PTSD. What is it about Manhattan, Kansas that seems to attract diminutive but fast-as-lightning skill-position players?

I mean, how many of those guys does Oklahoma sign? K-State’s a place where a back like that has a shot to play.

After suffering an injury in the second quarter against Arkansas State, is it looking like Skylar Thompson ’s mobility will still be limited two weeks later?

Ah, he’ll be alright. He’ll just rub some dirt on it.

The reality, if you watched the Arkansas State game, is that he wasn’t running anyway. This year’s offensive game plan clearly doesn’t call for it the way Snyder ball did.

Defensively, who’s the key to K-State’s success on Saturday?

Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Seriously, it’s probably the guy who makes me mad on a more regular basis than anyone else, safety Wayne Jones. He was carted off two weeks ago, but it turned out to just be minor injuries and a concussion. This is just speculation, but I think a lot of the worry K-State has about being able to play Saturday revolves just as much around whether he clears protocol as it does test results, because if he’s legitimately still out injured that shrinks the Wildcat margin.

It’s important because the staff has acknowledged that the COVID worries aren’t team-wide but instead related to one position group. They haven’t come right out and said which group to my knowledge as of this writing, but everyone’s pretty sure it’s the secondary.

We can breathe a small sigh of relief after getting through Wednesday without bad news, but if you had to guess, what do you think are the chances of this game being played on Saturday?

Oh, I have no idea whatsoever. We’d all have a better clue if Lincoln Riley hadn’t started the “we’re not reporting our numbers anymore” thing, because then everyone followed suit.

(Don’t shoot me. I actually agreed with Riley’s position there, since the numbers were still being reported to health authorities. It just makes our jobs inestimably harder to do without sounding like idiots.)

Who’s your least-favorite Jayhawk of all time? (Note: This doesn’t necessarily have to be limited to sports)

This one is surprisingly easy to answer as long as I assume that since we’re talking about a football game I should pick a football player.

Aqib Talib . I ******* hate that guy.

As an Oklahoma resident who is notably not a big fan of his current state of residence, what’s one nice thing you have to say about the Sooner State?

Understand. I live in a town of 750, approximately 12 of whom have jobs.The rest collect SSI checks, do drugs, and steal copper wiring. It’s an awful place. My opinion on Oklahoma may be discolored.

I actually think Tulsa (where I’ve lived twice in the past) is a very nice place. Oklahoma City has its charms. There are some absolutely stunning places in this state — Turners Falls, Talihina Drive, a lot of the area around Grand Lake and Lake Eufaula. And we have Whataburger, so it’s not all bad.

It’s common knowledge that there’s a clause in Lon Kruger’s contract stating that he isn’t expected to beat his alma mater on its home court (Note: he had to win the first one in 2012 just to throw people off the scent). Will Lon Kruger ever sour on Kansas State University and try to win a game up there?

Probably not. He’ll never admit it, but I think he regrets leaving —not because of his own career, but because of what his departure did to the program. The one thing people don’t know (or forget) is that the day Kruger left for Florida, K-State had been to more NCAA Tournaments than all but five teams, and Kansas *was not one of them*. In the post-WWII era, K-State had won or shared 15 Big 8 titles; Kansas had 14. Kansas leads the all-time series 199-94 now; when Kruger left, it was 133-86.

Hard to imagine, isn’t it?

Lon Kruger bled purple. We’ll never really know what it was on the K-State side of things that helped make his decision to leave palatable. Maybe there was friction, maybe he just hated moving out of Ahearn and into Bramlage, maybe he took the sudden decision to start pouring money into football badly. That almost certainly played a role in contract negotiations, as Bill Snyder was demanding every penny he could get his hands on to get the program up to standard, and nobody here faults him for that.

But Lon has never had a bad word to say about K-State. I honestly think if they’d gone after him in 2012, he’d be here.

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