Kansas State’s Midterm Evaluation

19 Oct

It’s already past the midpoint of October, and just like that, the Wildcats are 6-0 and bowl eligible. Here’s a look at what they’ve done so far and what they’re going to need to do moving forward.

Mentality The team has really embraced this underdog persona. They might be favored in a few games, but both cornerback Nigel Malone and defensive end Jordan Voelker said the Wildcats always have a chip on their shoulder, regardless of the opponent, simply because many people did not expect this team to amount to much in general. That source of  sustained motivation is important, especially with “should win” games against KU, Iowa State and Texas still coming up. At the same time, I think the players genuinely believe in head coach Bill Snyder’s methodology and the preparation he puts them through, and that gives them confidence that they really can win any game. Obviously, that confidence and faith in each other is essential if the Wildcats plan on knocking off Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and/or Texas A&M.

Offense What Kansas State does with the football might not excite people right off the bat. That’s okay, though, because the results are exciting. In a league full of fast-moving, quick-scoring teams, the Wildcats’ attack is more measured, more methodical, and so far, pretty effective. While head coach Bill Snyder said the offense needs to be more prominent than it is now, he joked that the unit’s goal is to score more points than the team’s defense gives up, so up to this point, the offense has met its goals. The rushing game has been effective so far, largely because the Wildcats have a one-two punch between running back John Hubert and Klein. Both are averaging nearly 100 yards per game on the ground.

Going forward, the Wildcats need to develop a stronger passing attack. As quarterback Collin Klein continues to pile up repetitions, he becomes more accurate and makes better decisions. It looks like Snyder has cracked the playbook just a little bit more in recent weeks, but against meatier opponents with more seasoned defenses, Kansas State will need all cylinders firing.

Defense Easily the team’s most reputable unit so far, this group has been fun to watch. They like what they’re doing. The enthusiasm, passion and enjoyment of playing have made the Wildcats even more focused and disciplined. Simply stated, this is the area no one outside of the team is worried about. If there is one thing I would nitpick, it would be the secondary getting burnt on long pass plays. As Snyder says, this is bound to happen from time to time, but 10 different Texas Tech receivers had a catch of 10 or more yards on Saturday. That makes me worry a bit about what will happen when the Wildcats play Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Special teams This group has been inconsistent. (As Snyder says, his son Sean, special teams coach, would be pulling his hair out if he had any hair.) Last week specifically, it performed tremendously. There’s not much more you can ask for than a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and two blocked field goal attempts. A less glamorous aspect of that game was the kickoff coverage team, which made Texas Tech start an average of 79 yards from the end zone on their five drives that began with kickoff returns.

Like everything, improvement needs to be made, particularly by the punt return unit, but the potential here is high – think Tramaine Thompson, Tyler Lockett and David Garrett.

 

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