That West Virginia win, by the end, was nice. Like that first Happy Hour sip, it immediately made a lot of concerns melt for a lot of fans. But, was the victory -- and the performances turned in by both Jake Waters and Daniel Sams -- reason to think Kansas St. turned a corner?
We discuss ...
There was a certain level of trepidation heading into the West Virginia game because of K-State's unpredictable nature this season. Did the win feel like KSU may have finally turned some sort of corner?
Jon: Well, the fourth quarter sure as hell did. That said, I expected the Cats to win handily Saturday, so overall I'd have to say "not so much."
TB: Agreed with Jon that I still have some trepidation after that win, but there is one reason for optimism. Confidence isn't just something you can decide to have, and through the first two-and-a-half quarter, K-State still looked like a team that lacked confidence. But maybe, just maybe, finally getting a solid win will help the Wildcats build confidence for the rest of the season.
Derek: The offensive game plan shaped up to be almost identical to Texas, but Sams has become a more confident passer and the defense is getting better every week. Now teams know they can't just stack the box against Sams and expect to win. This is what we were hoping for. And the confidence helps too.
The Intern: Who knows? WVU is not a good yardstick, we probably learned more when we played OSU close on the road.
Kitchen: Apart from the QBs, the offense has looked like it played much of this year with one eye on the door, hoping to see Collin Klein come lumbering through and save everything; like it was waiting on the okay to move on. Yeah, it was couch-in-dumpster-fire West Virginia, but if that was the low-profile Petri dish where confidence was conceived, then so be it. Grow that thing, get on with it.
Is it one of those "because why not" deals that both Jake Waters and Daniel Sams decided to play one of their best games at the same time, which obviously does nothing to help settle any debates regarding who should play more?
Jon: I don't think that's really been the debate for the last several weeks anyway. It's been "can I get over on the other guys and rub their noses in it?"
TB: For all the teeth-gnashing over a two-quarterback system, it really looks like Waters and Sams get along well. During the Baylor broadcast, I think I even heard the broadcasters say they are roommates. If both are on board and the coaches can devise a game plan that works -- where have I heard that before -- this thing can work.
Derek: I think some of the good play can be attributed to a poor outing for West Virginia's defensive backs, but I'm with TB. There's no animosity between the two of them and as long as teams have at least a little respect for Sams as a passer and Waters as a runner -- which now they should -- I think the two QB system can work just fine.
The Intern: I think if the coaching staff decided to actually call plays that made sense, either QB could succeed. Run up the middle plays for Sams are a waste, as are zone read plays for Waters.
Kitchen: I don't think I've ever suggested this before, but this "debate" is where people should just be fans. It might get figured out, it might not, but, I think we've all proven that talking ourselves into the ground over it means bupkiss. Instead of splitting hairs over "what does IT ALL MEAN?!?" after every stinkin' series or call, I'm okay with just enjoying the idea that both guys found success at the same time, which, oddly enough, led to the program doing the same.
Has the defense been unsung on some level this year? Its worst performance, on the scoreboard anyways, was 35 points allowed to Baylor, and it ranks 50th among FBS schools allowing 24.1 ppg. Is it better than many have wanted to give credit?
Jon: I was harsh after Game One, and while the defense still deserved pretty much every iota of my approbation for that complete tent-folding, it's apparent that they're simply not "the problem" with this team. They've played well except for two very critical drives. Now granted, if they don't bungle those two drives Kansas State is 5-2 right now, but still.
TB: The defensive improvement has been impressive this season. With nine new starters, it was inevitable that the new guys would take some time to settle in. The last three games, the defense looks like it's reading-and-reacting, rather than thinking-and-reacting.
Derek: Yeah, it's clear that most of our worries were based on chemistry, which doesn't happen overnight. They're still vulnerable vertically, but not as much as we feared. I'm still not completely sold, but they've given me almost no reason to worry since conference play began.
The Intern: Better than the Cosh years. Worse than the Bennett years. So better than any thought it would be. Hats off to the D for improving as the season has progressed.
Kitchen: If the offense had shown the same level of week-to-week overall progression, this team isn't 3-4 right now. And, I'd love, LOVE another shot at Oklahoma State now (and Texas, probably). Sad trombone. Tom Hayes (Defensive Coordinator/Secondary) had to earn his check this year, and he's doing it, plus some. All those warm feelings aside, this defense certainly isn't even "very good," but if other teams treat it as an afterthought, they'll get punched pretty quickly.
Did the West Virginia performance restore full confidence that K-State will make a bowl game?
Jon: I was already pretty confident. What restored my full confidence was watching TCU faceplant against the Longhorns. All I'm waiting for now is for #LIFE to tweet "Yo, it's cool, we got this."
TB: It's still a process for me, but I'm fairly confident K-State gets there. At this point, the Texas Tech game looks like the difference-maker between six and seven wins.
Derek: The early kick off time in Lubbock helps, but I wouldn't say I have full confidence just yet. The fourth quarter of West Virginia definitively proved that this team has the ability to make a bowl. Now they just need to finish the job.
The Intern: No. Need to win 3 of 5, and I could see the coaches calling another awful game so we lost when we should have won. And I can see the players overachieving to win one we shouldn't. I hope we make a bowl, and I hope we win 4 or 5 more games this season. But I'm taking it week by week at this point, since I have no idea how the Cats will do.
Kitchen: Nope, I'm not there yet. Blow out Iowa St. and avoid injuries in that game, and then we're talking about stacking quarters, halves and games of bowl-worthy performance. Sputter and mess around with a dreadful team, and it's back to ground zero with expectations. Check with me next week.