After a weather delay of about an hour following the end of the first half, K-State and Missouri State agreed to conclude tonight’s game with K-State leading 35-0. The game counts; there’s still a great deal of confusion as to whether the statistics will. In the post-game, Bill Snyder himself said that he had thought the stats wouldn’t count if there was no snap in the third quarter, but that the rule is apparently only a conference rule and that stats in a non-conference game count as long as the game reaches halftime.
We learned almost nothing this game, but we did learn one very important bit: Jesse Ertz is settling in, and may be very, very good by the end of the season. Ertz threw the ball eight times tonight; seven of those eight balls were completions, and the one that wasn’t hit Isaiah Zuber right in the chest. Add to that three carries for 85 yards, and the redshirt sophomore had himself quite a game. Or a half, as it were.
The Wildcat defense held Missouri State to 54 yards, 30 on the ground. Only once in their 20 offensive plays did the Bears gain at least 10 yards, and that play only gained 11. Matt Seiwert had a pick, and Jordan Willis recovered a fumble; neither led to points.
A blocked punt, however, did; Jayd Kirby got a hand on a Zach Drake kick inside the Missouri State 10. Winston Dimel carried the ball twice to convert that play into a touchdown. It was his second score in just about 2 minutes, giving him six on the season.
Charles Jones scored the game’s first touchdown, carrying the load on the opening drive after Bill Snyder opted to receive the opening kickoff after winning the toss. However, he snap-dropped the ball crossing the goal line, and that earned him a spot on the bench for the remainder of the game; in the post-game, Snyder said that is a thing he has specifically told the team they are not to do, and that Jones apologized to the team.
Alex Delton finally threw a pass. Five of them, as a matter of fact. He completed three of them for 11 yards. For those who are good at math, that’s a total of ten pass completions. Those ten passes were caught by eight different receivers, and if not for Zuber’s drop it would have been 11 by nine. Dimel and Byron Pringle were the receivers who had two catches; one of Pringle’s was the touchdown rebound off Dayton Valentine pictured at the head of this article. Had Valentine caught that ball, he’d have joined Dimel in the two-catch club, which is shocking since he’s a tight end and all.
Aside from Ertz, nobody broke the 25-yard mark on the ground, and his 85 yards comprised over half the Wildcat rushing attack. Jones had 23 yards on the opening drive before his blunder. Dimel and Justin Silmon each had 19, Delton added 15, and Alex Barnes had one carry for five yards. Dalvin Warmack bears the unfortunate stigma of being the only Wildcat who touched the ball all night on offense and lost yardage; he was one yard in the red on two carries due to a well-read option that lost six yards on K-State’s second drive. In all, K-State had 165 yards on the ground and 105 in the air, and were on pace for a 570-yard performance before Mother Nature wagged her finger.
So the ‘Cats head into conference play looking fairly sharp, but with the question of competition still a lurking menace. Some questions we had in the pre-season don’t seem very pressing anymore. The offensive line looks solid, the receivers look like they can actually make plays, and Ertz can run the offense efficiently. But we’ll have to see how that translates to playing against Big 12 competition.
And while this is probably the best defense in the league, there are still caution flags. Tonight, we learned nothing about the secondary because Missouri State’s quarterbacks threw half their balls to places their receivers weren’t. As for the defensive line, there were a couple of troubling plays where the Bears were able to just run right through gaping holes in the middle, although the linebackers were quickly on the case. It may not be a concern, but in the moment it was troubling.
Next week, we’ll know more. A lot more. And the season will begin in earnest.