It was just six weeks ago that the 2013 season was ready to get underway. Kansas State was ready to roll — shiny, new double-headed quarterback monster and all.
Now, this so-full-of-derp debacle of a season gets to hurtle itself right into the oncoming Baylor freight train. Boy howdy, that sounds fun. Sigh ... welp, no sense in hiding, so bring on the Baptists. We're ready for a whippin' and this week's Round Table.
It's almost just a cruel subplot to this twisted 2013 football tale, but injuries are starting to pile up on K-State. Does that turn the heat up or down on this season's on-field discussion?
TB: We may as well just turn the heat down all around on this season. Salvage the year by developing our identity going forward and gaining experience for next year. Give DeMarcus Robinson some snaps at running back. The backup receivers will probably get a chance by default, if Tyler Lockett and Tremaine Thompson are out for a while. Make sure the young players on the defensive line and at linebacker get some chance. And for God's sake, pick a quarterback and commit to him.
Derek: For all intents and purposes, the season is dead. Snyder compared it to the 2003 season in the press conference this week but the 2003 team was — for the most part — a collection of experienced players who were really expecting to come in and compete for a national championship that year. This team is none of that. Play the youth, dig into the depth and get us excited for next year.
The Intern: Until we actually see players used in smart schemes, I think it is a don't care. You can have all conference players in the wrong scheme and make them look mediocre.
Jon: I reserve the right to change my opinion if the Cats somehow come out Saturday and look entirely respectable, but at this stage I legitimately feel there's nothing to be gained by worrying over what happens. We can't even get bent out of shape over next year's potential contributors not getting reps, because we still have to try to get bowl eligible.
Kitchen: In terms of tangible accomplishment, this season is hanging by a bowl-berth thread. That thread is one more key injury away. Or, maybe it's another 12 penalties in one game. Or, maybe it's five more turnovers in only 66 plays. Point is that this team is out of house money, already burned its savings, and is about to put up the house on the black jack table ... with the dealer showing a face card.
Also, I love this quote from Kyle Klein this week on turnovers: "It is kind of crazy to think about. Considering we were 5-0 last year and now we are 2-3, it is not hard to see where the train left the tracks."
Preach, my man. We can examine time-of-possession, yards per play, points per game, etc., and none of it matters if you can't hold on to the gall-darn ball.
At 2-3, K-State has to go 4-3 to qualify for a bowl game. Three of those games are against teams currently ranked No. 20 or higher. Are there four wins left on this schedule?
TB: Hope is fading fast. A few weeks ago, Iowa State, West Virginia and KU looked like sure wins, and getting TCU in Manhattan made you feel pretty good. Now, ISU and WVU look better than we thought, and TCU put up a game effort in Norman. With all four of those games essentially at home -- although we don't claim Lawrence in any event -- there's still a chance. But I wouldn't bet on it.
Derek: Like TB, I wouldn't bet on it, but I wouldn't count it out either. The defense has steadily improved each week and the offense seems to be a few major discipline issues away from being essentially what we expected. Short of a CATastrophe, (see what I did there?), two more wins have to be expected and I think it's perfectly within reason that this team could steal two more somewhere along the line. As I said though, no money from my pocket would be placed on that possibility.
The Intern: Doubtful. When the preseason poll was completed, I thought the results were overly optimistic. I think I commented earlier this year that a winning season would be a successful season. Now, I think making a bowl game might be over achieving unless we see some things that the coaching staff and players haven't done so far this year.
Jon: I still believe. People are getting defeatist attitudes about games I am still absolutely confident that this team is going to win. That means all that's required is to beat TCU (doable, given the fact that Boykin is a lesser version of Daniel Sams); failing that, I think there's a chance the Cats might trip Texas Tech or even Oklahoma. It's not like those two teams are Baylor, after all.
Kitchen: Is it a cop-out on my part to say all that matters is the focus level with this team? I think the rest of the Big 12, aside from Baylor, is showing how competitive it is week-to-week, including K-State, but only if the Wildcats quit handing the ball to the opponent, and tackles Tavon Rooks and Cornelius Lucas stop starring as drive killers with false starts. If those things aren't fixed, forget it. If they are, then, hey, there's a shot.
According to his offers list, how good does a Houston (at 4-0 and 19th in the nation in passing offense at 307.5 ypg) or Penn State (3-2 and 35th in passing at 279.4 ypg) look to Jake Waters right now? (You know, if he just happened to ever think about those types of things ...)
TB: If Houston is still running essentially the same system as when I was in law school there, with Kevin Kolb slinging it all over the yard, then that would have been Waters' best bet among the schools recruiting him. It's damn sure looking better than a K-State situation where the coaches expect him to play an integral part of the rushing attack and his two best wide receivers are hurt.
Derek: If I were a promising JuCo recruit, I wouldn't touch Penn State with a ten foot pole right now so that explains that for me. Penn State and K-State were his only two visits but one would think he's really wishing he would've given Houston a little more thought.
The Intern: I'm not sure why the coaches recruited him. I think he is a quality player who can flourish in the right system. A system that uses zone reads for the passing QB and 4-5 wide out sets for the rushing QB, not so much. I respect what Coach Snyder has done at K-State, but I'm not sure our coaches have the flexibility to change (based on the observations this year) and adapt. I'll always cheer on the Cats, but there are times when I am puzzled by coaching decisions. And the optimistic thought is maybe everything up to this point has been some great strategy designed to lull the other teams in the Big XII into under preparing for us.
Kitchen: I remember Waters said God told him to pick K-State. Not sure you'd want to nitpick a reason like that, but I do remember Bryce Brown said the same thing about Tennessee, so ... um ... yeah.
K-State's current combined record in seasons following a Big 12 Championship is 6-10, and the Wildcats are in serious danger of making it 2-for-2 in Bill Snyder having a losing season following a conference title. Thoughts?
TB: Both Big 12 championships were won by veteran teams, so the next year saw a ton of new faces. It's natural to expect that those wouldn't be the greatest seasons. Add in that success can cause complacency, and that Snyder's system is predicated on a commitment to hard work, and you can see where there could be problems.
Derek: TB pretty much nailed it here. The comparison between this season and 2004 is pretty much startling. Both seasons saw the loss of the quarterback, two impact linebackers, a big time impact wide receiver and no clear idea at the start who would fill the voids.One thing I'll add that I don't think has really been talked about yet is the difference in recruiting. Recruiting has certainly picked up in the past two years and it's clear — especially on the defense — that from a pure talent perspective, the younger players are better than the more experienced group on the field. It's possible that there's a schism in the locker room due to younger players not wanting to listen to the more experienced "leaders."
The Intern: Guess that is why recruiting is so important. Need to reload more often than every 4 years to have successful season each year. I wonder what would enable the Cats to recruit players that 'reload' the system each year?
Jon: It's a cute observation, I guess, but let's also remember that two other times K-State played one game with a chance to win the conference title and both times just happened to lose that game by three points. Their record in the two seasons after those: 17-7. One of those two, however, was the 6-6 2001 campaign, so the commonality in the three herpyderp seasons is this: star quarterback graduated, quarterback controversy ensued. It's that simple. When we have a quarterback controversy, we stink.
Kitchen: Different times, different players, different team make-ups. I say that despite all the attention paid to it being the same coach, same system and same 16 goals for success. I still think Waters/Sams is far superior to Meier/Webb, and I don't remember it being a blatant misuse of talents with the latter back when like this year. The thing this year has its own glorious reasons for bombing, only some of which I bet compare to why 2004 wasn't good. Quarterback play, unfortunately, is on both lists, and overall, I'm just hoping it's not an even bigger comparative history lesson between 2004-05 and 2013-14.