By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
The result was much better than a week ago, and players think it was a step in the right direction. There was a lot to like. With lowly Massachusetts up next, K-State will almost certainly enter Big 12 play at 2-1.
Question is: can it become a more consistent team by then? K-State played poorly at times on Saturday, so there is plenty of room for improvement. As Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudpseth pointed out afterward: If you take away the three touchdowns that came on special teams and defense, it was a fairly even game. The Wildcats should remain motivated during practice this week.
A look at all that and more in this weeks Sunday Rewind:
1. Bill Snyder knows how to use two quarterbacks
Jake Waters threw for 278 yards, Daniel Sams ran for 63 yards and Kansas State scored 48 points. By all measures, the Wildcats’ two-quarterback system was a success. Waters was spectacular in the first half, throwing for 250 yards. Sams lifted the offense every time he came in, leading the Wildcats on two touchdown drives. The experiment wasn’t without its kinks. For example, why did Waters run the option on a fourth-and-short instead of Sams? But it got off to an encouraging start. “I think it can work,” Waters said. “You just have to use us right and they (the coaches) are and they did tonight. With Daniel coming with that change of pace, it really gave us that spark that we needed.”
2. K-State improved significantly on special teams, but only marginally on defense and offense.
With the exception of the kickoff return it allowed in the second half, the Wildcats were dynamite on special teams. Tramaine Thompson returned a kickoff for a touchdown and fell a yard short of another touchdown on a punt. Jack Cantele and Mark Krause were also solid. If that continues, K-State will benefit greatly. The Wildcats weren’t as good on offense or defense, though both were improved from Week 1. The offense moved the ball well, but the offensive line was only so-so. The defense got pressure on Terrance Broadway and used Ryan Mueller and Mike Moore well, but had lapses in the secondary and allowed 370 yards.
3. The Big 12 looks wide open.
The best news K-State fans got Saturday might have come from outside Manhattan. The Big 12 continued to look weak against nonconference competition. Outside of Oklahoma State (2-0 with a win over Mississippi State) and Baylor (2-0 and putting up mega points) and to a lesser degree Texas Tech (2-0 with a pair of lopsided wins) no team has impressed. Texas gave up an astounding 550 rushing yards in a loss to BYU. Oklahoma managed a measly 16 points in an ugly win over West Virginia. And TCU quarterback Casey Pachall suffered an injury against Southeastern Louisiana. Losing to North Dakota State might not doom K-State. The Big 12 appears full of parity.
A few that were good:
He returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, returned a punt 61 yards that nearly scored a touchdown and caught two passes for 46 yards. Thompson was the easy pick for Player of the Game.
The K-State junior appears on his way to 1,000 receiving yards. The Wildcats haven’t had many 1,000-yard receivers, but Lockett is at 224 yards through two games. He caught eight passes for 111 yards Saturday, and that was without catching a single ball in the second half.
The senior safety came through with a very important Pick Six in the second half and played an overall solid game.
Big game from the defensive end. He had eight tackles and a 10-yard sack.
He provides instant offense whenever he is inserted into the game. The sophomore quarterback rushed for 63 yards and scored a touchdown on eight attempts. He also hit Zach Trujillo for a 27-yard pass. Sams is easily K-State’s top rushing option right now. Over/Under on how many runs he attempts at Texas?
A few that were bad:
Here’s how bad Miller was: I described his performance as a nightmare on Twitter and the first person to reply back suggested I was putting things nicely. Miller dropped two passes, and one of them resulted in an interception. It seemed like something bad happened every time Waters threw his way.
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but Bill Snyder was not complimentary of Hubert last night. He rushed for 56 yards and two touchdowns, but they came on 18 carries.
“We need John to get going,” Snyder said.
Later, Snyder was asked about Hubert reaching the 2,000-yard milestone for his career.
“I’m proud of John and appreciate what he has done here,” Snyder said. “He is in a different set of circumstances right now. He has to rise to the occasion. John has got to step up and make some positive things happen. He showed some signs of that tonight and from an offensive standpoint we have to get back to creating balance. We are moving in that direction but he has got to help us with that.”
Hubert was better against Louisiana-Lafayette than he was against North Dakota State. He was much more aggressive, and got up field. He was also involved in the passing game. But he failed to deliver when K-State called his number in the second half. At one point in the third quarter he took six straight hand-offs, but could only pick up one first down. His rushing average (3.1 yards) was too low.
It performed much better than last week, but it has got to find a way to get the rushing game going when Sams isn’t at quarterback. B.J. Finney also made an error by not snapping the ball on a fourth-and-short when the Ragin’ Cajuns jumped offsides.
The senior linebacker didn’t record a stat and barely played.
Got beat for a touchdown, and had a few lapses in the secondary.
GAME IN A PLAY
Few saw Tramaine Thompson’s 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown coming at the start of the third quarter, especially when the kick looked like it was going out of bounds. But the return sparked two quick touchdowns for K-State and helped the Wildcats win. As it turned out, the key player on the touchdown might have been Tyler Lockett.
Let’s break it down:
The ball is on its way out of bounds, but Thompson decides to field it anyway. Both Lockett and Snyder said they screamed “What is he doing” at that moment. Thompson said he could feel a big return coming, so he decided to catch it.
As Thompson brings the ball up field, he has a nice wall of blockers set up. A hole is visible to his right, and he fakes as if he is going that way. But Lockett has come from his right and is now a lead blocker in front of him. They both opt to go left near the sideline.
That opens the field up beautifully for Thompson, who has all kinds of space to work with. One Louisiana-Lafayette player is still in decent shape to stop him, but he has to get through Lockett first.
Lockett, normally K-State’s go-to return man, comes through with a big block in front of Thompson. All that is left for Thompson is to cut left and use his speed.
No one could catch him. A nice wall of blockers and a key block from Lockett set up his touchdown.
K-State coaches used Waters and Sams well together, but the two-quarterback system could have been even better. Waters stayed in to run the option on a fourth-and-short instead of Sams. And coaches didn’t let Waters throw much in the second half after he torched the defense for 250 yards in the first.
The Wildcats scored a touchdown on defense and a touchdown on special teams. They never lose when that is the case.
Daniel #LiFE Sams (@DS4ms) September 8, 2013
Great win tonight. Thank you for the support true family members of this wonderful k state nation
Tramaine Thompson (@TripleEffinT) September 8, 2013
Reaaalllly wish I could have done more tonight but I’m learning to be grateful for what GOD ALLOWS me to do.#RoseShow
Robert Rose (@RoseShow5) September 8, 2013
Quote to note
We do not have the consistency right now and the ability to play a solid four quarters.” — Bill Snyder