September 28, 2007

Prince leaning on team speed vs. Texas

Kansas State coach Ron Prince earlier in the week said it was important for his team take momentum and "play fast when we have the chance." The Wildcats, who outlasted Texas in a shootout last season, will get an opportunity to see whether they can quiet Texas Memorial Stadium and keep pace with the seventh-ranked Longhorns at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

Prince apparently has put together a squad that doesn't lack speed or confidence. When he arrived at K-State following the 2005 season, Prince used traditionally-fast Texas as an example for the type of high-octane, downfield-running team he yearned for the Wildcats to become.

If this contest becomes a track meet, K-State inside linebacker Reggie Walker believes the Wildcats would have the edge.

"Compared to us, Coach Prince will even tell you we're the faster team," Walker said. "Hands down, we're faster than anybody we're going to play. You can mark that down and everything. We're a faster team than anybody. I'm not really concerned with how fast they are."

K-State, 2-1, which beat Texas 45-42 last season and comes off a bye week that by all accounts wasn't much of a vacation, fancies itself as a team eager to make another national mark on ABC despite its status as a two-touchdown underdog. The signature win for Prince's young head-coaching career gave the Wildcats confidence that they could compete against big-time competition.

"If anything, it just showed the team we're able to go out and trade blows with almost anybody," said quarterback Josh Freeman, who threw three touchdowns and one interception against the Longhorns last season. "It's always good and boosts a young team's confidence with a win like that."

Texas enters with nine straight wins in league openers dating back to a 48-7 loss at K-State in 1998 and is 28-4 in conference games since 2003. The preseason favorite to win the South division finally accelerated to its powerhouse speed with a 58-14 drubbing of Rice last weekend. The Longhorns, 4-0, were slow out of the gate in winning two of their first three only by a combined 11 points but never dropped below No. 7 in The Associated Press Poll.

"We felt we played much more consistently against Rice," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "We took good things out of the first three games but we didn't finish and that was the big word in the early games. If you go back and see Arkansas State (21-13) and Central Florida (35-32), they were a little better than anybody, including us, thought and we really played better against TCU (34-13) than we got credit for that night.

"It wasn't just the Rice game, but we are carrying a lot of momentum and confidence into this."

Close games have recently been a part of this series. Prior to last season, Texas won two straight against K-State by a total of seven points.

Then in front of a national audience last November, K-State used back-to-back trick plays and Freeman enjoyed one of his best games as the Wildcats snapped the Longhorns' streak of 21-straight Big 12 victories and earned a win against their highest-ranked team at home since 2000.

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