Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, center watches the action from the sideline in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Alabama A&M Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Nashville, Tenn. Vanderbilt won 42-0. K-State travels to play Vanderbilt on Saturday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder has always stressed the importance of playing one game at a time and never looking ahead.
The Wildcats adhere to that philosophy, but in beating their first two out-manned opponents by a combined score of 110-16 they certainly took a sneak peek ahead to this week’s matchup at Vanderbilt.
“A lot of us circled this game on the calendar because Vanderbilt is an SEC opponent,” K-State center Adam Holtorf said.
“We are trying to keep the morale the same but at the end of the day we are excited to play a nonconference game on the road against a team like Vanderbilt and a conference like the SEC,” said safety Brogan Barry.
With Alabama on their schedule next week, at least one Vanderbilt player wasn’t making a big deal about playing the No. 18 Wildcats at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We play in the SEC,” said Commodores safety Ryan White. “Kansas State is just another game to us.”
Vanderbilt offense: Quarterback Kyle Shurmur, the son of Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, passed for 2,409 yards last season as a sophomore and in two games this year he is 35 of 46 for 498 yards with seven touchdowns and no interceptions.
“Shurmur is a young guy that plays within himself quite well,” Snyder said. “He can be accurate and put the ball where it needs to go. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel in regards to the things he does. He takes what you give him, and he’s pretty good about that. That’s a real significant trait for a quarterback and it only comes with experience, and he certainly has that.”
Running back Ralph Webb is Vandy’s career rushing leader with 3,445 yards, currently No. 18 in SEC history.
“The running back has tons of yards,” Snyder said. “He gets yards when everybody knows he’s going to run the ball. You have a pretty good idea where he’s going to run it and he still gets yards, which speaks highly of their offensive line, as well.”
Vanderbilt defense: Snyder touted the Commodores’ fundamental soundness along with their potential for deception.
“They have a few things they do with their defensive schemes that are somewhat unique and hard to prepare for,” Snyder said. “The important thing is they are so sound. You can tell each and every young person that’s on there has an excellent understanding of what his responsibilities are. They play and scheme to the capability of their players, and that’s a unique and valuable asset to have in this day and age. Tremendous consistency.”
Inside linebacker Emmanuel Smith has 16 tackles and outside linebacker Charles Wright has 11 tackles with 3.5 sacks.
The Commodores allowed only two third-down conversions on 26 attempts to Middle Tennessee and Alabama A&M and have recorded eight sacks (20 tackles for loss) after totaling 15 sacks in 13 games last year.
“They have been pretty active,” Snyder said. “Part of it is up front and part of it is coming with second-level people -- the linebackers -- and they have a rover-type guy coming off the edge.”
K-State connection: Vandy offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig was briefly employed by K-State, hired as offensive coordinator by Snyder when he came out of retirement in 2009.
Ludgwig came to K-State from Utah but stayed only two months, departing for a similar position at Cal before ever stepping on the field with the Wildcats. He is in his third season on coach Derek Mason’s staff.