DEFENSE: THE OVERVIEW The defense played aggressively, and at the end of the day it had four sacks and a pair of interceptions – not to mention a win – to show for it. Although the opponent was an FCS team without its starting quarterback or all-conference receiver, that is still a good sign. The Kansas State defenders cannot control who the opponent is; they can just defend the players who are out there, and they did that very well. Although there were some troubling moments, such as when an Eastern Kentucky player squirmed away from two or three Wildcats before continuing down the sideline, those were few and far between. *All in all, it’s a good day when the opposing team can only score when it starts a possession from the other team’s 1-yard line.*
- DEFENSE: THE NEW GUYS Some exciting debuts were made by linebacker and captain Arthur Brown, who had a team-high 7 tackles (1 solo, 6 assisted); Jordan Voelker, a defensive end who moved into the starting lineup after seeing time in 5 games last season, had 5 tackles that included 2 sacks; and Meshak Williams, who transferred from Hutchinson Community College, had 3 solo tackles that included two tackles for loss of 11 yards. Both defensive ends, Voelker and Williams showed persistence in getting off blocks and causing unrest behind the line of scrimmage. Williams was not the starter heading in to the game, but he may very well be a starter heading into the next game.
- DEFENSE: STATISTICS While the Kansas State defense had very few pass breakups (2, to be exact), that isn’t necessarily a reason for concern. While Eastern Kentucky freshman quarterback Jared McClain threw 26 passes, only 9 were caught, and part of the reason for that was that some of the throws were so far off that they really did not necessitate a breakup by a defender. Also not as bad as it looks is that the Colonels totaled 51 tackles in the game, while the Wildcats had just 31. However, looking at other stats, that discrepancy is probably explained by the fact that Kansas State’s offense was on the field more, eating up 36:43 of the game clock with 77 plays compared to just 53 by Eastern Kentucky.
- DEFENSE: ATTITUDE I saw more celebratory jumping and hugging on the field than I ever have by this Kansas State defense. The guys seemed amped up for every play, and it looked like they took the time to savor – just a little – the success of each tackle or chase, whether it was by one individual or another. They really stayed enthusiastic, and their persistence and tenacity was great. *What they did last night was the equivalent of a pitcher throwing a no-hitter to get his team a 1-0 win.*
OFFENSE: THE OVERVIEW Basically, the Wildcats struggled mightily. Not scoring for 49 minutes and 49 seconds against an FCS team is truly inexcusable. The lack of points becomes more disturbing when one considers that Eastern Kentucky gave up 68 yards through penalties, keeping several drives alive for the Wildcats, and yet Kansas State finished with just over 300 yards of offense: 175 on the ground, 128 through the air. Lastly, notice this: the Wildcats ran 56 rush plays and only 21 pass plays. *I don’t want to question head coach Bill Snyder, who has been around football for a few decades longer than I have been alive, but it surprises me that Kansas State put such an emphasis on trying to run the football against a team whose run defense finished first in its conference last season.*
- OFFENSE: THE PLAYERS This probably is not how quarterback Collin Klein pictured his debut. He had a fumble (though honestly it happened because of a poor snap by new center Shaun Simon) and an interception and took two sacks. However, coming through it the clutch with a 33-yard zinger to wide receiver Chris Harper in the end zone showed some guts. It speaks to the character of the team that Klein and the other guys on offense kept working hard – and kept out of the “I can’t believe we haven’t scored on an FCS team yet” mentality – to get the job done, even if it was not in a pretty, flashy manner.
- OFFENSE: THE OUTLOOK I’m inclined to believe Snyder when he says the early bye week could be a blessing in disguise. Clearly, there are aspects of the offense that need to be ironed out. The team needs to pick a running back and a backup running back (John Hubert, who had 91 yards rushing, followed by Bryce Brown seems a viable option), and I would imagine it will do that over the next two weeks. Also, it seems like the passing game needs to be taken up a notch; maybe Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson could get some catches, for one. The offensive line needs to figure out a way to hold its ground because it got bullied; obviously, that front is essential to the operation of the whole offense, so those guys have to gel and get their act together quickly. *I don’t think you could say any offensive player was stellar in this game, and while none of them may ever be stellar, these are competent guys, and two weeks from now, I expect much more from them.*
- SPECIAL TEAMS: THE OVERVIEW Two fumbles in the special teams game do not a happy coach make. Snyder is all about discipline, and fumbles are an unnecessary evil. Two of Kansas State’s five fumbles (four of which the team lost) came on muffed punt returns – one by senior safety Tysyn Hartman and one by sophomore safety Ty Zimmerman. Both those guys are solid players, and perhaps their struggles can partly be attributed to the wind that was whipping around down on the field. Still, though, that can’t happen. Against a Big 12 team, that’s instantly 14 points. On the bright side, freshman wide receiver Tyler Lockett showed promise, holding onto his punt returns and even breaking off a big run that was called back by a block-in-the-back penalty. Cornerback David Garrett returned two kickoffs (one at the start of the game, and one after the Colonels’ only touchdown) for 78 yards. That is exciting. Look for him and Lockett to tear it up on returns throughout the season.