Looking back on the first four games of the 2013 season for the Kansas State Wildcats football team, there has been a ton of ups and downs. There are concerns at multiple positions where the questions still have not been answered.
During the bye week last week, Head Coach Bill Snyder didn’t really address his two-quarterback system play of Jake Waters and Daniel Sams. Snyder still wants to stay with the tandem of Waters and Sams, but for how much longer?
After 4 games, the Wildcats are at 2-2 overall, and 0-1 in Big 12 play heading into Stillwater, Oklahoma this weekend. There is no sign if either quarterback can go the distance in one game. Waters has started every game up to this point; he has had some good games but he has made some mistakes in games where it has been the difference in the outcome.
For instance, two weeks ago in Austin, playing against the Longhorns in his first road game at a Wildcat, Waters had a couple opportunities to bring the Cats back into the game late but two costly turnovers deep in Texas territory sealed K-State’s fate.
Obviously, quarterback is not the only question surrounding this team; you have to look at other areas on both sides. Where has the running game gone? Daniel Sams has bought energy to his team with his pure speed; other the other side of that is Jon Hubert has been almost a no show.
Though Hubert has gotten into the end zone this season a 5 times, it has been very difficult to get there because of the struggles up front with the offensive line. K-State’s offensive line was predicted to be the Big 12’s best but so far they have been manhandled especially in the losses against North Dakota State and Texas.
The defense has issues of its own. Can the ‘Cats get off the field on third down? In the Texas game a couple weeks ago, when K-State needed a stop in a critical moment of the football game, somehow the Cats just could not dig deep enough to get the ball back to the offense. The defense allowed the Longhorns to go 9-18 50% on third down conversions along with 2 big 4th down conversions.
As the aura of inexperience falls away, who will step up for this defense other than Blake Slaughter, Ryan Mueller, and Jonathan Truman. Despite the play of the defenders, the Wildcats have given up an average of just over 350 yards per game.
It only gets tougher for K-State as they resume conference play Saturday afternoon against #21 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who are coming off 30-21 loss on the road to West Virginia in Morgantown. Both teams do not want to go 0-2 to start conference play. More importantly for K-State, they are in need of something positive to happen or it could be a long season.
The Wildcats defeated the Cowboys in Manhattan last season 44-30.
Kansas State Offense vs. Oklahoma State Defense
Good defensive teams like Texas can figure out how to stop K-State offensive. Jake Waters is in to pass the ball, followed by Sams to keep it on the ground. K-State had some extra time last week to try to get things in order with an offense that had some high expectations coming into this season.
The Cats’ need to be more balanced to keep the Cowboys defense honest and on the field longer.
The only bright spot for the offense from two weeks ago is the play of wide receiver Tyler Lockett. He was the star of the show in Austin, grabbing 13 catches and gobbling 237 yards, which put his season total to 29 receptions and 469 yards and 1 touchdown.
This offense cannot have Lockett do all of the work and expect to win. Waters will need to find other play makers such as Hubert, Tramaine Thompson, and Curry Sexton to have a better chance at being successful.
Turnovers have not been kind to K-State neither.
The Cats are back on the road for the second consecutive Big 12 game, which means Waters and running back Jon Hubert need to hang on to the ball and somehow get Hubert back into the offense.
Oklahoma State gave up only 68 yards to West Virginia last week. Look for Daniel Sams to once again come into the game as the quarterback duo continues. Sams played against Oklahoma State a year ago when Collin Klein had to come out of the game due to an injury.
Kansas State Defense vs. Oklahoma State Offense
The good news here is that the Cats’ had an opportunity to work on the defense during the bye week coming off a tough week in prime time against the Longhorns. The bad news is that it is going to be another hard challenge this week going up against high powered offense in Oklahoma State led by quarterback J.W. Walsh.
K-State needs to find some way, shape, or form, force turnovers against the Cowboys to have shot at an upset. It would also be a good thing to see some type of pressure on Walsh and use the bend but don’t break attitude.
Safety Ty Zimmerman has to make his presence felt Saturday afternoon, whether it’s getting a big hit, or an interception, or an important stop when the secondary is having a hard time stopping the opponents’ receivers.
This week, the secondary for the K-State will have to deal with wide receiver Josh Stewart and the other weapons for Oklahoma State. Blake Slaughter and company will need to contain the running game to have some shot of winning on the road. K-State cannot afford to go 0-2 in Big 12 play with Baylor looming next week.
Kansas State Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) vs. #21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-1. 0-1 Big 12) at Boone Pickens Field in Stillwater, Oklahoma at 2:30 pm