Kansas State lost another close game at Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Wildcats committed penalties left and right and turned the ball far too often. In the end, they couldn’t overcome those mistakes and lost 33-29.
There will be some soul-searching after this one. The Wildcats feel like they let one slip away, which they couldn’t afford to do after losing to North Dakota State and Texas. Next up is Baylor, a team that appears unstoppable on offense. It will be interesting to see how K-State moves on from another agonizing loss and prepares for the toughest opponent of the season.
And with that, here is a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
1. The Wildcats have come close in each of their losses, but big steps need to be taken before they learn how to finish games.
Here are a few quotes I found interesting after the Oklahoma State loss.
First, from safety Ty Zimmerman: “Last year, we won so many games because we didn’t do that. We didn’t have penalties, we just played a lot more together. I’m not saying guys aren’t giving effort. I feel like guys are going out there and flying around and making plays. It’s just too many mental errors we have to correct if we want to improve.”
Second, from linebacker Blake Slaughter: “The most frustrating thing about it is people will look at this team and say, ‘Man, last year we were this and this year we are this.’ The difference between winning and losing is so small. The line is so fine. Last year we were in the same situation as this against the same team. The same could be said about last week and the week before that. We were in the same situation.”
Third, from Bill Snyder: “I don’t question the effort of our players. It goes back to our football team having an identity … One of the players proposed that question and my response to our football team was, ‘Nothing has changed in 20 some odd years. We have an identity and the identity is toughness the identity is discipline and the disicipline is our 16 goals’ … We just have to have guys who buy into that.”
K-State was penalized 12 times for 92 yards and lost five turnovers on Saturday. This team is failing at a fundamental level, and everyone is frustrated about it. Fixing those problems has been harder than expected.
2. K-State should start Daniel Sams against Baylor.
Sams is obviously still a work in progress, but K-State should give the sophomore an extended look at quarterback, especially if top receivers Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett continue to be sidelined. Sams did a lot of good things on Saturday. He rushed for 118 yards and a touchdown and completed 15 of 21 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns. Most importantly, he picked up first downs and kept the offense on the field at important times, which enabled the defense to rest and play one of its best games. Were turnovers a problem? Of course. Sams threw three interceptions, and two of them were inexcusable. He also lost a fumble. But it was his first game as the primary quarterback, the lost fumble came on a questionable call and the two bad picks came when coaches asked him to throw down field, something he can’t do. Sams looked good on mid-range throws and designed runs. With better play calling and fewer penalties, he might have accomplished more. Jake Waters has a far superior arm, but without Thompson and Lockett it seems like Sams is the better option.
3. K-State’s defense was a bright spot.
Oklahoma State benefited from excellent field position all afternoon, but only scored three touchdowns. K-State’s defense looked great at times and gave the team a shot at victory. Take away a flea-flicker in the first half, and the Wildcats didn’t have any major errors. The Wildcats only allowed four first downs in the second half and held the Cowboys to 330 yards on the afternoon. Ty Zimmerman shook off some poor reads to make 14 tackles, Travis Britz once again looked strong on the defensive line and the defense held firm with its back against the wall. It will need to carry momentum from this performance into next week’s game against Baylor. The Bears’ offensive juggernaut dropped 73 points and 864 yards on West Virginia last night.
A few that were good:
He is K-State’s best defensive lineman. On Saturday, he made four tackles and a sack. Oh, and he blocked a kick that led to a touchdown return.
It wasn’t a perfect game for the senior safety. He mis-read a flea-flicker in the first half and was beaten badly on another pass play. But he rebounded in the second half to lead all players with 14 tackles. Credit his leadership on a day when K-State’s defense played well.
He deserves more credit than Sams for his touchdown run. Whitehair essentially picked Sams up and carried him through a pile of defenders into the end zone. K-State’s offensive line has been a letdown this season, but that was a welcome sign of aggression. K-State needs more plays like that.
He picked a good time to stop dropping passes. With K-State’s top wide receivers both out, Miller looked like Sams’s favorite target. Miller caught four passes for 35 yards and a touchdown. I also thought Kyle Klein looked good at receiver.
A few that were bad:
Without his playmaking on offense, K-State would not have been in a position to win, but without his four turnovers K-State would have won. Sams has the skills to excel, but he has to learn how to manage the game first.
“I left my heart on the field. I gave it my all. But as the quarterback I can’t throw three interceptions or fumble,” Sams said. “At the end of the day everything falls back on the quarterback. I threw three interceptions. That’s something you can’t do … I will learn from it and I plan to come back next week and give it my all again.”
Zach Trujillo/Offensive line/fullbacks
Every time K-State put extra blockers on the field to run the ball, bad things happened. Trujillo let a defender by untouched on a blitz for a sack, the offensive line continued to underachieve and the fullbacks couldn’t create running room as lead blockers. K-State had more success running in spread formations.
He was put into a tough spot as K-State’s go-to returner, but he looked way too cautious. Some say he is the fastest player on the team, yet he was walking with the ball on one kick return.
Why was he trying to pass the ball on a kickoff return? K-State was fortunate the officials didn’t rule the foolish decision a fumble.
This was a poorly coached game. Jake Waters came in at strange times, and coaches asked Sams to throw the ball deep too often, which led to interceptions. The decision to throw long on first down with 4 minutes remaining with K-State trailing by one was exceptionally poor. All it needed was a field goal. It should have asked Sams to run the ball.
K-State managed just 92 yards on kickoff returns and hit negative yardage on punt returns. The Wildcats missed their top two receivers/returners.
QUOTE TO NOTE
“This will be a true test … We have had a lot of tests. We had a test after the first ballgame, a test after the Texas game and another test now.” — Bill Snyder.