Campus Corner

The Star's blog on college sports, featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri

Football Friday: Opening up the playbook, missing Arthur Brown/Collin Klein, using Daniel Sams, predicting tight ends and running backs not named John Hubert

09/06/2013 4:41 PM

09/06/2013 4:42 PM

A loss to North Dakota State in the season-opener raised plenty of questions this week, so I won’t waste much time with a lead-in.

One thing I would like to point out: This is arguably the most important game remaining on Kansas State’s schedule. Coaches and players insist they can still have a special season, and, while that’s true, it is hard to envision a successful year for the Wildcats without a win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

I’m predicting K-State to win 40-28. The Ragin’ Cajuns are gifted on offense, but suspect on defense. The Wildcats should take advantage.

Now onto your questions:

I will be surprised if Bill Snyder holds much back this week. He says he is going to get Daniel Sams on the field more and keep Louisiana-Lafayette’s defense guessing. This is a crucial game for K-State, and its opponent has a suspect defense. Expect the Wildcats to be aggressive throughout with Jake Waters throwing it deep and Sams and John Hubert running for increased yardage behind an angry offensive line.

I don’t want to completely rule it out, because Sams played quarterback, running back and wide receiver in high school. But I don’t see it happening. Sams said earlier this week that he doesn’t expect to play any position other than quarterback. He approached Snyder about switching positions as a freshman and Snyder shot him down immediately, saying he recruited him to play quarterback. It would be fun to see what Sams could do at different positions, but that increases the risk of injury. And if Sams gets hurt, that leaves Waters without a proven backup.

Bill Snyder isn’t one to reveal that type of information freely, but he said the possibility remains that some true freshman might still play on defense this season. Keep an eye on Matt Seiwert, who is listed as a possible backup at defensive tackle, and Tanner Wood at defensive end or linebacker.

I’m going with Andre McDonald. The big tight end has been a proven asset in the passing game before, and if Sams plays much out of the wildcat formation he would be an easy target to hit on the run.

Each year he asks media for suggestions and makes a playlist based on our most popular choices … Anyone believe that? For the actual answer I suggest paging D. Scott Fritchen. He literally wrote the book (story) on that one. Buy him a cup of coffee. I’m sure he’ll tell you all about it.

K-State lists Robert Rose as the primary backup running back, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Snyder turned to Robinson first as a change-of-pace runner or full-time replacement. One reason I suspect Snyder hasn’t used him as a change-of-pace back: He and Hubert are the same size (5-foot-7). We haven’t seen much from Robinson since he came to K-State as a four-star recruit, but the junior has talent. He has been held back by everything from injuries to lack of aggression in past years. He has also played behind some talented runners. This might finally be the year we see him get some carries, especially after Hubert struggled in the first game.

Hubert was bad last week. No doubt. He spent way too much time running side to side and showed hesitation when running lanes were there. The snap he took out of the wildcat formation was a good example of this. But it’s hard to put all the blame on him when the offensive line was pushed around in front of him. Hubert has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards at K-State. That talent hasn’t evaporated. Louisiana-Lafayette may reveal a lot about him. It allowed nearly 300 rushing yards against Arkansas. K-State needs to gash this defense on the ground. If Hubert can’t do that, coaches may give someone else a shot. Problem is, K-State doesn’t have another proven running back on the roster. Rose and Robinson are long-time backups and Jarvis Leverett has spent most of his time on the scout team.

The offensive line would probably eat up the biggest slice of a blame pie chart (41 rushing yards on 23 attempts against a FCS opponent is as bad as it gets) but there were plenty of slices to go around. The defense couldn’t get off the field or defend the middle. Jake Waters threw two interceptions. Coaches made poor decisions. It was definitely a team loss.

Dang, these e-mail questions are no joke. I hate to take the easy way out, but I would call it a push. K-State would have likely won with either Brown or Klein in the lineup. To me, Brown is the hardest player to replace from last year’s team. The Wildcats don’t spend much time recruiting 5-star prospects, so his mixture of speed and power are rarely seen in Manhattan. Remember, this is a guy who ran down Robert Griffin III with the game on the line and intercepted Geno Smith and RG3 in back-to-back seasons. No way North Dakota State marches 80 yards in the fourth quarter with him on the field. Of course, with Klein on the field K-State probably would have converted more third downs, benefited from his leadership and held a larger lead. Remember his bomb to Chris Harper when it looked like Eastern Kentucky might beat K-State? K-State’s challenge moving forward will be finding players who can deliver in similar ways with the game on the line.


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