K-State football team celebrates after 52-0 Bowling Green victory
Kansas State ran for 333 yards in Saturday’s 52-0 win over Bowling Green.
That hadn’t been done since the 2017 Cactus Bowl against UCLA, when the Wildcats went for 344. Nine players got a carry, including six running backs. No matter who touched the ball, K-State was moving closer to the end zone.
Here is a look at why.
Pulling offensive linemen
The K-State offensive line was ruthless in the shutout victory. It was the Wildcats’ first 50-point shutout since 2003, and the front five were the biggest reason.
Offensive line coach Conor Riley and offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham had the hogs moving early and often. With every pull and fold block, the Wildcats gained more momentum up front. That enthusiasm to run and block came to a head on Jordon Brown’s 50-yard touchdown with six minutes left in the first quarter.
K-State didn’t bring in a fullback for the second-and-five, but Brown definitely had a lead blocker in senior center Adam Holtorf. Holtorf took on the middle linebacker as he pulled into the B-gap. With senior tackle Nick Kaltmayer setting the edge on the defensive end and sophomore Nick Lenners pushing to the outside linebacker, the hole was easy and obvious for Brown.
He made one move and was gone for the second-longest play of the game.
Holtorf was arguably K-State’s best pulling blocker Saturday. Another great example came on the first play of the second half. Running back Harry Trotter ran an outside zone play to the right. The Bowling Green middle linebacker was about a yard away from making a play on Trotter for a minimal gain, but Holtorf filled the hole and turned back toward the middle of the field.
His scoop block sealed the hole, and Trotter turned a third-and-long into a third-and-two.
Although Holtorf was active against Bowling Green, he wasn’t the only Wildcat offensive lineman to lead the way. Senior guard Evan Curl was eager to run, too.
A couple of plays before Brown’s 50-yard touchdown, Trotter took a handoff up the gut. Sophomore fullback Mason Barta missed his kickout block on the outside linebacker, but Curl’s pull into the A-gap was all Trotter needed to get past the line of scrimmage.
Late in the first quarter, senior right guard Tyler Mitchell did a great job of getting around a bulge in the line and running through to the linebackers. Freshman fullback Jax Dineen didn’t get the best block off to set the left wall of the hole, but Mitchell’s acceleration through the hole cleared the way for Brown.
Brown used some patience when he got through and pulled off a six yard rush that should have been blown up at the line.
Use of fullbacks
Coach Chris Klieman told the media there was no chance of Dineen earning a redshirt for his freshman season, and Dineen showed why Saturday.
His best block came on a run that ultimately didn’t count because of a questionable holding penalty on Kaltmayer. Early in the second quarter from the Bowling Green 12-yard line, Dineen led the way for Trotter through the B-gap. He took two defenders out of the play, and Trotter went into the end zone untouched.
Two plays later after the penalty, Trotter scored again.
K-State’s most creative formation showed up midway through the second quarter, five yards from the end zone. Barta and Lenners lined up as fullbacks in front of running back James Gilbert. Lenners went in motion to create a heavy I-formation, and Mitchell pulled from the guard spot alongside the fullbacks.
Gilbert powered behind them and bowled in for the Wildcats’ fourth touchdown.
Dineen was at work again on another scoring play with under a minute left in the first quarter. He lined up as the up-back to the left of the formation and delivered a vicious wham block across the line of scrimmage that dropped one defender and stopped another.
Sophomore left guard Josh Rivas chipped the defensive tackle into Holtorf inside and climbed to the linebacker. The hole was just enough to squeeze Gilbert through for one of his two scores.
Kansas State enters Week 3 as the No. 1 rushing offense in the country. The Wildcats’ 10 rushing touchdowns are second most in the FBS, and their 6.0-yard average per carry is 20th-best and second among teams with at least 100 attempts.
“This culture they have here and their technique is dead right,” Bowling Green coach Scot Loeffler said. “They will even get more talented players under Chris Klieman’s regime here and they are going to be a really good football team.”