Saturday, the Kansas State football team got the dominant win it needed against the Nevada Wolf Pack.
The Kansas State football team needed to get a win Saturday, but they weren’t initially favored to take care of Nevada. Even though their game was at home, the Wildcats were expected to struggle against the Wolf Pack.
That said, the Kansas State football team was able to get a 38-17 win over Nevada. That sort of solid win is big for Kansas State and is worth celebrating. Kansas State football fans should be thrilled with how the Wildcats performed Saturday.
And here’s three things we can take away from that game:
Kansas State football: 3 things we learned from Wildcats win vs. Nevada Wolf Pack
1. K-State has a reliable backfield duo with Deuce Vaughn and Joe Ervin
Deuce Vaughn is a man on a mission this season for the Kansas State football team and he has proven he can handle a workhorse type load. With Will Howard and Jaren Lewis splitting time at quarterback against Nevada, the running game was a focal point for the Wildcats.
Not only was Deuce his usual self, but Joe Ervin had a productive afternoon on the ground as well. Ervin contributed 82 rushing yards and Deuce Vaughn had another spectacular outing with 23 carries for 127 rushing yards. Additionally, both running backs had a rushing touchdown and shoutout to Will Howard who came to play with two rushing touchdowns of his own.
Klieman has taken a page out of Bill Snyder’s playbook with the grind it out keep it on the ground game plan. As long as teams have trouble tackling the elusive Deuce Vaughn, I don’t see the game plan changing anytime soon. Opposing defenses focus on Deuce running, so the Will Howard quarterback runs have been successful as of late.
Through three games the idea is to feed Deuce until a team figures out how to stop him, mix in Joe Ervin to give Deuce a break, and then capitalize on defenses over committing to the run game and use Howard’s legs to gain positive yards. In Big 12 play, the playbook may need to expand, but for now let the running attack keep rolling.
2. The defense can contain a potent passing offense
Nevada rolled into Manhattan with a top NFL prospect on their roster, but that did not bother the Wildcats. Carson Strong is the starting quarterback for the Wolf Pack and is projected as the number one overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft.
Kansas State held the Nevada offense to only 17 points and 331 total yards. Strong did attempt 40 passes and completed 27 for 262 passing yards to go along with a passing touchdown. However, Carson Strong threw an interception and finished with a quarterback rating of 59.5. Klieman’s defense is the real deal and transfers are already playing a big role in the overall success. Nevada never really was in an offensive flow and K-State’s run game kept Carson Strong on the sideline.
Other than a week two fluke against the Southern Illinois Salukis, the Wildcats defense is a strong unit capable of keeping games close and that bodes well for the Cats when Big 12 play begins this Saturday at 6pm against Oklahoma State. Kansas State will not be in the friendly confines of Bill Snyder Family Stadium so they will have to manufacture their own energy as Chris Klieman looks to start the 2021-22 season 4-0.
3. The talented wide receiver room is being under utilized
Skylar Thompson being sidelined with a knee injury has played a role in the passing game being minimized. Against the Nevada Wolf Pack, Will Howard only attempted ten passes and Jaren Lewis threw a couple of quick screens to the outside.
Malik Knowles, Phillip Brooks, and transfer tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe are not getting consistent targets at the moment. Imatorbhebhe did have a big 68 yard touchdown reception against Nevada, but that was his only catch for the game. Knowles can contribute on jet sweeps and Brooks is a punt return phenom, and that is all fine until an opposing defense plugs the run game and forces Will Howard to throw.
Against Oklahoma State this weekend, Chris Klieman needs to open up the playbook and let Will Howard test the arm a little bit. Running the ball every drive is not going to help a young quarterback’s confidence, and who knows when Thompson will be ready.
Will Howard should have momentum traveling to Stillwater after punching in two rushing scores against Nevada. The speed and receiving ability of Malik Knowles lining up opposite of the shifty Phillip Brooks is a dangerous combo and can add another dimension to the current one-dimensional offense that has achieved early success.