Rarely has a bye week come at a more beneficial time than it did for the K-State Wildcats last week. Sometimes a bye week can slow a hot team down. This specific bye week may have saved the Wildcats from the season being totally lost.
Everything about the first half of the season for K-State has been bizarre. The Wildcats sit at 2-4 but aren’t all that far from 6-0. I’ve watched almost every game Bill Snyder has ever coached at K-State, and the first six weeks of the season has been filled with curious decisions in play calling, bad personnel choices, clock mismanagement, reckless use of timeouts and costly penalties.
The two quarterback system, when used properly, can be productive. Not this two quarterback system though. Not the way K-State has handled having two talented players with completely opposite skill sets.
It has left me at times wondering if Snyder is still pulling all the strings. A question that surely should not have to be asked, but it needs to be. There are a handful of decisions in each loss this year that have been so unlike Bill Snyder in every way.
The bumpy start was set in motion when the decision was made to schedule North Dakota State, the two time defending FCS National Champion. It was a game that the Wildcats should have won. It’s a game K-State could have won had they just let Daniel Sams run against the Bison like he did against Baylor last week. Why allow him to carry the ball 29 times against Baylor, who has bigger, stronger and faster players, and only give him two carries against North Dakota State?
Three weeks later against Texas, Sams only had eight carries, while Jake Waters was called upon to run the ball 18 times. It made no sense at the time and looking back it makes less sense now. Waters turned the ball over three times against the Longhorns, each time in Texas territory.
Following the disappointing loss to Texas, K-State dropped a very winnable game against Oklahoma State. The reins were taken off of Sams against the Cowboys, rushing 27 times for 134 yards. But in crunch time, with plenty of time left on the clock to run the offense that Sams excels at, and without his top two wide receivers, the coaching staff asked him to pass.
Sams may have made a poor decision, but whatever that decision was it wasn’t as bad as the one the coaches made by asking him to execute a play that was unnecessary.
But as if it never happened, the same mistake was made last week against Baylor. Throwing the ball deep, late in the game when running the ball would suffice. If K-State wants to reach the levels it’s reached in the past, it will need Sams to make those throws in some games to win. But not in these games and not in these situations.
While the coaching staff has made it’s fair share of errors, the players are not without fault.
We hear during television broadcasts, sometimes at nauseum, how great K-State is at ball security. Traditionally that’s true. But this year the Wildcats rank 118th in turnover margin.
After winning 11 of 12 games decided by 10 points or less in the previous two seasons, the Wildcats are 0-4 this year in those instances.
All of this leads us back to the timeliness of this bye week for the Wildcats. It’s time to get back to the Bill Snyder way.
K-State’s conference schedule has been front loaded, with what will likely prove to be its three toughest games right out of the shoot. K-State’s first three Big 12 foes sit at 15-3 combined and its last six, starting with West Virginia this week are a combined 22-18, including the surprising 7-0 Texas Tech Red Raiders and 6-1 Oklahoma Sooners.
I hope the time off provided the entirety of the K-State football program time to heal, and time to look itself in the mirror. Because from this point forward looking back and feeling sorry for themselves won’t do anyone any good. Everyone and everything needs to improve.
Bowl eligibility is a must. It provides a young team like Kansas State invaluable practice time. If nothing else it could help clear up the convoluted picture under center for the 2014 season. The Wildcats must find a way to get four wins in these final six weeks of the season.
It’s not a terribly tall order, considering the way the schedule has eased its choke hold on the Wildcats.Then again, nothing has come easily to K-State this season.