Kansas State gets ready for Miami
Published on -9/5/2012, 10:13 AM
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
MANHATTAN -- There were no impassioned speeches, no personal pleas from Arthur Brown last year before the Kansas State University football team lined up against the Miami Hurricanes.
That just wasn't his style.
Taking the field at Miami's Sun Life Stadium, where he spent the first two seasons of his college career, no doubt stirred some emotions in Brown. Yet he didn't let it show, not even after the Wildcats escaped with a thrilling 28-24 upset victory.
"There were a lot of memories and there was a lot of excitement, a lot of energy, going into the game," Brown, the Wildcats' senior middle linebacker, recalled. "I really had to take control and keep the focus where it needed to be.
"With the guys we had on the team, they all rallied around me and really helped me keep my focus."
Brown said he anticipates it being much the same Saturday, when the No. 21-ranked Wildcats Miami in an 11 a.m. return match at Snyder Family Stadium.
"It's a different venue, but our approach as a team is the same," said Brown, who now is two years removed from South Beach.
A lot has changed since last season, including Brown's identity. After two unremarkable years in 2008 and '09 with Miami before sitting out under NCAA transfer rules, he quickly became a star for the Wildcats, receiving all-Big 12 and conference defensive newcomer of the year honors.
"We tried hard and had that dialogue, to not let that become an all-consuming ballgame for him emotionally, and I think he did a pretty good job of that," K-State coach Bill Snyder said of Brown's first effort against the Hurricanes. "I think he was pretty good about taking a step at a time."
At the same time, the six-tackle performance on the road against a high-profile team helped show Brown what he was capable of.
"As quiet as he is, I don't think Arthur lacks for confidence at all," Snyder said. "But in hindsight, I would say it probably had an impact on how he felt about his team as much as anything."
The victory, which included a game-saving goal-line stand in the final minute, helped propel the Wildcats to a 10-3 record and second-place league finish after they were picked eighth in the preseason.
"I definitely felt like that was a confidence boost, not only for me, but for the team as a whole," Brown said. "It really was a time that we laid another stone on the foundation that we were trying to build."
Brown's growth as a player was evident in the numbers, which included a team-high 101 tackles, including 9.5 for losses, two sacks and an interception. But perhaps more importantly, he has developed into a respected leader something counter to his quiet nature.
"Coach Snyder always talks to us about and pushes us to step out of our comfort zone, especially when it comes to leadership and trying, in essence, push ourselves beyond our limits and therefore help pull the team what our normal state is," said senior quarterback and fellow team captain Collin Klein. "Arthur's done that and I know we've all tried to do that.
"He's a very quiet person, but when he speaks everyone listens. Leadership is an art, not a science. Whatever we need to do to help get us a victory, I know we will do."
Brown credited his teammates for not only responding to his leadership, but also for drawing out his true personality.
"That's probably the most enjoyable part of this season, just having an opportunity to enjoy them and really get to know them and them getting a chance to know me," he said.
Even so, Snyder isn't holding his breath, waiting for Brown to rise up in front of the team this week to rally the troops. There are limits.
Brown also was noncommittal.
"I guess I haven't thought about it," he said. "But if something comes to mind or if something is in my heart that I need to say, I will say it.
"I don't think this is a game that I'm going to take personally."
Tickets for sale
K-State already had sold out four home games before the start of the season, but Miami on Saturday wasn't one of them.
About 1,200 tickets still remained as of Tuesday afternoon, prompting quarterback Collin Klein to offer a unique solution.
"I hope so," he said of a possible sellout. "Otherwise we need to maybe cut practice off a little early and go out and peddling them."
When told of Klein's plan, Brown smiled.
"I assumed that the game was already sold out," he said. "Hey, whatever we've got to do to get a full house, we need to do."
Brown wasn't so sure Snyder would be willing to shorten practice, however.
"That would have to take place on our own time, which is very little," he said.
More O-line woes?
For the second time since preseason camp, K-State may have lost a starting offensive guard to an apparent foot injury.
Senior left guard Nick Puetz, the former Southeast of Saline standout, left last Saturday's game in the second half and did not return. That forced redshirt freshman Cody Whitehair to move from right tackle to Puetz's spot and junior Tavon Rooks to step in at the tackle.
"We don't know yet," Snyder said of Puetz's status. "We'll make that determination a little bit later on."
Before the season started, right guard Boston Stiverson, a redshirt freshman, went down and was replaced in the starting lineup by junior Keenan Taylor.
Snyder said Tuesday that eligibility issues are keeping junior college transfers Ellwood Clement and Hakeem Akinola off the field,
Clement, an offensive lineman from Deptford, N.J., and Eastern Arizona Community College, will not arrive until next semester. The status of Akinola, a defensive lineman from Burtonsville, Md., and Fullerton College, is not as clear.
"Akinola, there's just some uncertainty right now about his eligibility," Snyder said. "He has some issues in regards to eligibility which, I feel so badly for the youngster because it wasn't his fault and he's suffering because of that.
"It's very unfortunate."