Kansas State Football: How to proceed after disastrous loss to Iowa State

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Kansas State Football Kansas State Wildcats

Breece Hall (28) Jahron McPherson (31) (Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports)

2. Backups and reserves are there for a reason, what the starter can do, a backup often falls short. Learn from it.

Coaches often fall short and slide into clichés, and perhaps the most common and consistent is ‘Next Man Up’ when a previous starter is now unavailable for whatever reason there may be. Coaches ask the backups to do the same things starters did, the backup now asked to be a starter falls short, and people wonder why.

Kansas State has been decimated by a combination of transfers, injuries, opt-outs, and COVID contact tracing. The glut of program departures you often see during a staff’s first season (see Missouri’s departure highway) is now hitting the Cats in season two. Combine these with COVID issues limiting players and the season began with opt-outs of four players, including potential contributors Jonathan Alexander and Matthew Palo-Mao (both left the program) and running back Joe Ervin.

Thompson and wide receiver Wykeen Gill are both out for the rest of the season due to injuries. Gill was a major contributor early in the season and Thompson was a senior capable of operating the offense.

The staff needs to get back to asking the players they do have available to simply do what they can do best. Much like keeping it simple, the staff at times runs into issues having players in spots they likely are unable to succeed.

Case in point, on the Breece Hall touchdown run, the Cats had a single safety back on the play. True freshman Tee Denson, who is also not a safety but a corner. Asking him to play single-high safety is not putting him in a position he likely succeeds.

Safety Jahron McPherson was asked at times often to play linebacker, against a team that runs the ball well. A safety being asked to be a run stopper often doesn’t work. And why is that?

Simple, because if the player could be a linebacker, they would be. McPherson was physically unable to take on blockers or get to the point, and at times the Iowa State rushing attack had gaping holes and cavernous lanes to run the ball through.

Wide receivers with limited speed are being asked to work down the field, where predictably, they are unable to get open because, well, they can’t get away from people deep. Often times, when an offense lacks speed, they using crossing routes, ‘rub’ routes to create openings for receivers. As of yet, the Cats have not introduced that concept into their offense. They should.

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