It’s time for another K-State Q&A.
Let’s dive right into your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
Closer to 2015 than those two other years.
For those following at home, K-State rallied to finish 8-5 in 2013, 6-7 in 2015 and 9-4 in 2016.
I think K-State wins enough games to qualify for a bowl, but it’s going to take a major turnaround from the offense to seriously consider much more than that. Oklahoma is probably a loss. Mark Kansas down as a win. That puts the Wildcats at 4-4 with four games to play -- at Texas tech, West Virginia, at Oklahoma State and Iowa State.
Here’s guessing they find a way to split those games and go 6-6, maybe even 7-5 if things bounce their way. Problem is, all those teams are lighting up the scoreboard. Iowa State has the least firepower of the bunch, and even the Cyclones are averaging 35.7 points. Bowl eligibility isn’t a given.
K-State needs to get Jesse Ertz healthy and its running backs going if it wants to finish strong.
The last two times I picked Kansas State to upset a ranked team at home it lost by scores of 55-0 and 26-6. I have learned my lesson.
My optimism last week was based on the theory that a healthy Alex Delton was better for the offense than a hobbled Jesse Ertz. How wrong I was.
As you can probably imagine, I’m picking Oklahoma to cover the spread this week.
Before we dive into K-State’s play-calling, which has not been good this season, I would like to at least acknowledge that offensive coordinator Dana Dimel isn’t entirely to blame for the team’s lack of touchdowns.
Jesse Ertz has been hurt, the receivers have struggled and the offensive line isn’t blocking the way it was last season.
Still, there’s no excuse for the Wildcats to score seven points against Vanderbilt and six points against TCU. There is too much talent for that.
I’m surprised by the results. A year ago, Dimel did an extraordinary job in K-State’s final seven games. During that span, he directed an offense that averaged 33 points and 428.3 yards with a quarterback that couldn’t throw down field. The Wildcats ran the ball without mercy, and everyone loved it. This year, K-State has two preseason Doak Walker Award candidates barely getting touches.
That has been the biggest error. Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon are two of the best running backs in the Big 12, yet they have combined for 381 yards on 80 carries.
K-State has to find a way to get those two going, and open up the passing game. Play-calling would be a good place to start. It felt like TCU knew the plays in advance last week every time Barnes and Silmon rushed the ball. Even when Dimel called for a receiver pass from Byron Pringle, the Horned Frogs were all over it.
We don’t get to speak with coordinators during the season, so I’m not sure how to explain what’s going on there. But the Wildcats need a new formula against the Sooners.
Tecmo Bowl ... Nice!
Too bad Dimel doesn’t have Bo Jackson at running back. I think Bill Snyder dreams of this play every night as the ideal K-State scoring drive.
That’s a good comparison. For me, it’s more like buying tickets to go see the sequel to a surprisingly entertaining movie you never saw in theaters, like The Matrix or The Hangover. You want to hop on board for the second installment of a trilogy, but find out the original was the only good movie in the franchise.
K-State has time to turn this season around, so that’s not a perfect fit. Fans need to hope this is like the second season of Friday Night Lights, a string of truly horrible episodes that made no sense but somehow led to a long, quality TV series.
Given his track record, it was reasonable to assume offensive line coach Charlie Dickey could plug in Adam Holtorf at center and K-State’s front five would continue blocking the same way it always has. But it hasn’t happened.
I think Holtorf has actually been pretty good, but Reid Najvar had experience and played really well last season. It would be interesting to see how differently the offensive line would play with him at center. I think we also underestimated the loss of Terrale Johnson. Pro Football Focus regularly praised him as one of the better right guards in the conference.
It would be a fitting play to call, considering how loudly OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops has complained about K-State illegally blocking down field over the years.
But, no, the Wildcats will probably not call for a screen pass.
I think the Simpsons answered this one for us -- Planet of the Apes.
Octoberfest is the best, hands down. I really like the ones from Sam Adams, Boulevard and Saint Arnold. But they’re all good. You can’t go wrong with any popular brand. Speaking of, I probably need to get to the store and stock up before the winter ales take over.
Pumpkin ales are pretty good, too. But some go way overboard on the pumpkin, so you have to be a bit more selective with those.
Sidenote: Nice use of the word “imbibe.”
Kamau Stokes, Barry Brown and Dean Wade are all back as starters. Bruce Weber says Xavier Sneed found his mojo and is ready to get back to his early freshman form. The team appears to have more talent and depth coming in off the bench.
Replacing Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson won’t be easy, but the Wildcats have enough pieces to improve on a 20-win season that ended with a trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Doesn’t mean they necessarily will, but Bruce Weber seems to like this group. Reaching the Big Dance and watching Iwundu turn into a NBA Draft pick has motivated the entire roster. There are some reasons to be excited about the start of basketball season.
The Big 12 coaches picked K-State to finish eighth in their preseason poll. That’s actually better than some predictions I saw over the summer.
I think K-State is a tad underrated at No. 8.
Here is what my Big 12 poll would look like:
1. Kansas: Obvious choice at the top.
2. West Virginia: Jevon Carter is back, and so is a talented roster.
3. Baylor: I like the Bears a little better than the Frogs.
4. TCU: Defending NIT champs should make the NCAA Tournament this year.
5. Oklahoma: New talent means a bounce-back year for he Sooners.
6. K-State: Three starters return from a team that made the NCAA Tournament.
7. Texas: Not sold on the Longhorns, even with the addition of big-time recruits.
8. Texas Tech: Red Raiders have some good players, could surprise.
9. Oklahoma State: Brad Underwood is gone, but Jeffrey Carroll is back.
10. Iowa State: Weird to see the Cyclones ranked last.
Second-best team in the Big 12, huh? Take it easy on the purple Kool-Aid.
That’s far-fetched, but I could see K-State finishing in the upper half of the Big 12. Kamau Stokes and Barry Brown should form one of the league’s top backcourts, and Dean Wade has all the tools to be an all-conference player. If Bruce Weber can get a full season out of Xavier Sneed, decent production at the five and some reliable scorers off the bench, the Wildcats could easily exceed expectations.
I can see them making it back to the NCAA Tournament and even advancing to the round of 32.
But I can also see them struggling a bit without Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson. I’m interested to see how the exhibition game goes on Saturday.
K-State can’t catch a break when it comes to big men and injuries. In particular, James Love can’t catch a break.
Indeed, this is the fourth consecutive season K-State has lost at least one forward to a foot injury in the preseason. We don’t know the extent of Love’s recent injury, so he could still play this season. But Weber mentioned the words X-Ray and MRI the other day, so it doesn’t sound good.
The other victims: D.J. Johnson and Dante Williams. K-State also had to play entire seasons without Cartier Diarra and Isaiah Maurice. Bad luck seems to be the norm.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett