K State Defense Eager To Prove Itself Against Elite Nevada Quarterback Carson Strong

By Kellis Robinett

Manhattan

There’s a chance that Roger Goodell will open the 2022 NFL Draft by announcing that a downtrodden pro franchise has selected Nevada quarterback Carson Strong with the No. 1 overall pick.

If that happens, Kansas State football players will immediately think back to whatever transpires on the field later this week at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats host the Wolf Pack there Saturday in a game that figures to be a fun non-conference matchup of teams from the Big 12 and Mountain West.

All eyes will be on Strong ... and how K-State’s defense plays against the elite college quarterback.

“We are ready for the test,” K-State safety Jahron McPherson said, “and we are going to come out bullets flying, as well. We aren’t backing down to anything. We are going to come full force, ready to go.”

Indeed, the Wildcats will have extra motivation when they line up against the Wolf Pack this weekend. Not only do they want to prove that their strong showings against Stanford and Southern Illinois weren’t flukes, they want to make plays against a future NFL quarterback.

CBS Sports has projected Strong as the first overall pick in its latest mock draft, and it’s K-State players are buying into the hype.

“He’s really tall,” McPherson said, “so he can see a lot of things that normal quarterbacks wouldn’t be able to see. He’s experienced and he can really sling it from hash to sideline. He’s just a good player. He is what everybody says he is.”

Strong is a 6-foot-4, 215-pound junior at Nevada. He has already thrown for 693 yards and six touchdowns in this young season. And he is looking to guide the Wolf Pack to their fourth consecutive winning season.

NFL scouts began to notice him right away when he threw for 2,335 yards and 11 touchdowns as a redshirt freshman. But he really took off last year when he bumped those numbers up to 2,858 yards and 27 touchdowns while playing in a pandemic shortened season.

“He’s a good player, a smart player and he obviously knows what he is doing on the field,” K-State defensive tackle Jaylen Pickle said. “Every week is a challenge, and he is a big challenge we have to face. He’s a good, efficient quarterback. But everybody puts their pants on the same way.”

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He might be the best quarterback the Wildcats see all season, even better than Oklahoma passer Spencer Rattler.

“I think he calls a lot of the plays himself at the line of scrimmage out of their tempo,” K-State football coach Chris Klieman said on Tuesday. “Although they can go fast they’ll slow it down some so he can get them in the right call, or the call that he likes. He has tremendous arm strength. He’s a mobile guy that sees so many coverages. He has seen so much and played so many snaps that it’s not easy to fool a kid like that.”

Klieman said the Wildcats will focus on two keys when trying to defend against him.

He wants K-State’s defensive line to pressure him in the backfield and make Strong feel uncomfortable in the pocket. He also wants K-State defensive backs to play the ball in the air and try to win as many toss-up throws as possible.

That second part could be a challenge, because Strong isn’t the only talented playmaker on Nevada’s roster. Romeo Doubs, Elijah Cooks and Cole Turner are all big, athletic threats to catch the ball in the passing game. All three of them stand at least 6-2.

“They’ve got really tall receivers,” K-State safety Russ Yeast said. “You just have to be good at locating the high point of a pass. You have to play the ball really well, because otherwise they are going to come down with the ball.”

This figures to be K-State’s toughest test of the non-conference portion of its schedule. Nevada enters as a two-point favorite.

The Wildcats have held their own on defense thus far, allowing 233 yards against Stanford and then 276 yards against Southern Illinois. But neither of those teams can match Nevada’s explosiveness on offense.

K-State could make a statement by slowing down the Wolf Pack and their star quarterback before he moves on to the NFL.

Source : https://www.kansascity.com/sports/college/big-12/kansas-state/article254230413.html

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