Campus Corner

Kansas State Q&A: Tyler Lockett vs. Tyreek Hill, Jake Waters and the long odds of winning out

The Kansas State Wildcats prepare to take the field against Stephen F. Austin on Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium.
The Kansas State Wildcats prepare to take the field against Stephen F. Austin on Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium. The Wichita Eagle

It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

Let’s jump right into your questions so you have time to get back to eating Halloween candy. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

This may sound strange, because I wrote about Hill today and Bill Snyder called him “the fastest guy in the world,” but I think Lockett has the bigger day ... by a wide margin. Hill is most dangerous in the return game. If you kick the ball anywhere near him, you’re a fool. He returned touchdowns against Kansas and Iowa State and he piled up 278 all-purpose yards against Florida State. But he can be nullified on special teams, as long as you’re willing to surrender field position, which K-State will likely do. By kicking away from Hill, Missouri State, Texas-San Antonio, Kansas, TCU and West Virginia all limited him to two or less kickoff returns. Point is, you can scheme around him. He is dangerous on offense, because he can line up anywhere, but he hasn’t put up big stats as either a running back or receiver. Oklahoma may also choose not to kick to Lockett, but he is still likely to find room against a defense that ranks 80th in pass efficiency.

And you weren’t the only one to ask about running the table ...

Honestly, for K-State to win the final five games on its schedule it is going to need to play well and get some luck. Maybe even a lot of luck. Only one team has gone undefeated in Big 12 play since 2005 (Texas in 2009) and no team has gone undefeated since the switch to a round-robin schedule. The task is especially difficult for K-State this season, with five road conference games. Winning away from home is not easy in this league. TCU scored 58 points at Baylor ... And lost. Baylor struggled to compete at West Virginia. Neither of K-State’s road wins have come easy. It needed a second-half rally to beat Iowa State 32-28. At Oklahoma, it needed a pick six, an interception in the end zone and two terrible missed kicks from OU kicker Michael Hunnicutt ... To win by a single point. I suppose the one thing K-State has going for it is that it gets an off week before traveling to West Virginia and home game against Kansas before heading to Baylor. Still, the Wildcats have one of the nation’s most difficult closing schedules. Something special may be required for an undefeated run.

If K-State updated injury statuses like the NFL, Dakorey Johnson would seemingly always be listed as questionable. The linebacker has been battling an ankle injury for weeks. He looked healthy making nine tackles against Oklahoma, but returned to the sideline against Texas. He dressed for that game, though, and didn’t seem banged up on the sideline. With Will Davis playing well, it’s possible coaches didn’t want to risk anything with Johnson. There’s a chance he rejoins the defense against Oklahoma State.

It’s always hard to evaluate K-State’s recruiting classes. I mean, look at their current captains. B.J. Finney, Jonathan Truman and Ryan Mueller were all unknown walk-ons when they committed. Yet, they were also the stars of their recruiting classes. That being said, this group has promise. Duke Shelley has big-play talent and K-State has cleaned up on in-state kids, getting quarterback Alex Delton, running back Denzel Goolsby, lineman Scott Frantz and running back Alex Barnes.

Waters clearly wasn’t at his best last game, looking off on many of his throws. But he still managed to complete 19 of 30 passes for 224 yards. Pretty good healthy or not. Snyder is growing tired of answering questions about Waters’ health, saying this week that he is fine and outsiders are “overly responsive” to his ailing shoulder. But players continue to describe Waters as “a warrior” for fighting through pain. He’s not 100 percent. It will be interesting to see how he looks Saturday with another week of treatment/rest.

Does it have to be one or the other? I was going to say 50.

Most of the head-to-head matchups favor K-State in this one. The biggest concern is the offensive line vs. defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, who leads the Big 12 with eight sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss. It’s interesting you bring up dropped interceptions. Dante Barnett, despite winning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors, failed to haul in a few picks against Texas. But Snyder said he responded in practice by holding on to four interceptions in Monday’s practice. Guess he was motivated, and K-State’s scout team quarterback had an awful day.

Maybe a little. But it’s not like they are getting completely overlooked. K-State is receiving votes in both national polls -- No. 28 by the coaches and No. 31 by the Associated Press -- and I’ve seen the Wildcats pop up in a few top 25 power rankings. With Marcus Foster and the majority of the starting lineup back, the Wildcats have the look of an improved team. But national media are unlikely to know much about Justin Edwards, Stephen Hurt and Brandon Bolden. K-State is expecting big things from all three newcomers, but they will need to prove their skills in live games before they get national respect.

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

  Comments