December 26, 2006

Freeman looks to shine in Texas Bowl

As each play moved across the video screen during those self-initiated post-practice sessions in December, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman studied how he had improved on the field that day. As he sat at Reliant Stadium during the Wildcats' first pre-Texas Bowl team function and watched the visiting Indianapolis Colts play the Houston Texans on Christmas Eve, Freeman studied what he'd like to become.

That Peyton Manning set another NFL record by reaching 4,000 yards passing for the seventh time in his nine-year career became a small sidebar as the Texans upset the Colts 27-24. Both storylines on Dec. 24 were likely fodder for Freeman. The Wildcats' talented true freshman revealed five days before that he followed Manning's games a little bit differently.

Gaudy statistics are great. But Freeman was enamored by how Manning operated under center, his command immediately after breaking the huddle and the All-Pro's ability to correctly predict the actions of defenses and react accordingly.

Basketball players want to be like Mike. Freeman wants to be like Manning.

"Peyton Manning is the obvious answer, just (with him) having that much comfort in the offense and the system and to be able to do whatever is necessary with the ball," Freeman said.

Kansas State coach Ron Prince believes Freeman has made gains in his own game as the Wildcats, 7-5, prepare to face No. 16 Rutgers, 10-2, in the Texas Bowl on Thursday night at Reliant Stadium.

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