The last time Kansas State lost to a Sun Belt Conference opponent, Josh Freeman hadn't even been born. But the junior quarterback knows the Wildcats cannot afford to take anything for granted when they face Louisiana in a 2:35 p.m. kickoff Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Freeman knows the Wildcats must put a disappointing nine-point loss at Louisville behind them in an important non-conference finale and tune-up before a challenging Big 12 Conference season.
"You can't let the Louisville game affect how you play and prepare," Freeman said. "It'll still be in the back of our minds, losing a game nobody thought we should've lost, but we've got to move on and play. Nobody waits for you to get over it. You have to be ready to play.
"I know they're going to come into here and try to give us all they've got. We have to be prepared for a fight."
K-State is 13-1 all-time against the Sun Belt with 10 straight wins against the league dating back to a home loss to North Texas in 1985.
K-State coach Ron Prince believes a team is reborn each season and suggests wiping all trends aside, though. However, the Wildcats must look to improve upon a pair of trends -- run defense and run offense -- that have been glaringly average through the first three games of 2008.
The Wildcats average just 124.0 rushing yards (89th nationally) and have allowed 163.7 yards on the ground (86th) so far and the Cardinals' 303 rushing yards last Wednesday were the second-most allowed by a Prince team.
That the Louisiana running attack averages 282.7 yards per contest, including 112.7 by dual-threat quarterback Michael Desormeaux, for the 11th-best effort in the nation, gives K-State an intriguing test at a time when its ability to stop the run has been called to question. Missed tackles, blown assignments and the penchant of Wildcats defenders to over-pursue in space crippled them against the Cardinals.
"It's happening to everybody in college football," Prince said. "We have people in space and make people miss and score an clearly they did as well. That just happened to come in the running game, which brings more attention while we're not doing it in the running game. That makes it even more aggravating."
"There's more hunger, now more than ever," said senior defensive end Ian Campbell, who looks to get untracked after posting just three tackles this season. "We talked as a team and I've re-evaluated everything and how we have to go about it. If we were doing it wrong before, we're not going to do it wrong again."
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