After last week’s 31-10 loss to Mississippi State, K-State remains in Manhattan for a visit from UTSA. The final non-conference game of the season should give K-State a chance to get back on track after getting beaten up by the Bulldogs last week.
The Roadrunners are 0-2 in 2018, starting with a 49-7 loss to Herm Edwards’ fightin’ Arizona State Sun Devils. UTSA was more competitive at home last week against Baylor, trailing by only a touchdown at halftime and getting within a score in the fourth quarter before losing, 37-20.
For their part, the Wildcats need to find an identity and gain some confidence with a trip to Morgantown looming. Mississippi State thoroughly whipped K-State on both sides of the ball, dominating in the trenches and outsmarting K-State’s defenders at every turn.
Players to Watch
Passing: Skylar Thompson, 15-31-1, 48.4%, 147 yards, 4.7 yards/attempt, 2 TDs, 73.5 yards/game
Rushing: Alex Barnes, 38 carries, 178 yards, 4.7 yards/carry, 0 TDs, 89.0 yards/game
Receiving: Dalton Schoen, 5 receptions, 88 yards, 17.6 yards/reception, 1 TD, 44.0 yards/game
Passing: Cordale Grundy, 34-66-2, 51.5%, 344 yards, 1 TD, 172.0 yards/game
Rushing: B.J. Daniels, 25 carries, 114 yards, 4.6 yards/carry, 2 TDs, 57.0 yards/game
Receiving: Greg Campbell, Jr., 8 receptions, 96 yards, 12.0 yards/reception, 0 TD, 48.0 yards/game
Look, I’m probably mailing this one in a bit, but UTSA just isn’t all that good. They have achieved six wins the last two years and played in a bowl game in 2016, but rank 125th by S&P+ this year. Of course, K-State is only 32 spots ahead, so it’s not like the Wildcats can chalk up an easy win just by showing up and playing like they have been.
This part’s gonna be gross, so grab your air-sickness bag.
Conservative, efficient K-State, Bill Snyder’s plodding, power-running team, is 106th nationally in rushing Success Rate. Thanks to a couple big bursts by Alex Barnes, they’re 55th in IsoPPP (explosive rushing plays). They don’t make up for it by ranking 111th nationally in passing Success Rate, and 85th in passing IsoPPP. Throw in their Sack Rate at 126th and it’s just a peach of a picture on offense right now.
But never fear! UTSA’S defense is just as bad! The Roadrunners are 98th by rushing S&P+ and 84th in rushing IsoPPP on defense. And they’re actually worse at defending the pass, rankning 113th and 106th, respectively, by Success Rate and IsoPPP. So it’s weakness-against-weakness this weekend when K-State has the ball.
What I’m saying is we better run for 250 yards and pass for at least 200 or we’re staring 4-8 square in the face.
Defensively, K-State is in the bottom 13 teams in the country by both rushing Success Rate and IsoPPP. Granted, Mississippi State is really good, but that’s … really not good. We’re downright awesome against the pass by comparison, ranking 22nd and 33rd in the two major S&P+ categories. That’s probably not adjusted for Nick Fitzgerald’s suspect downfield tosses, but ample credit should go to K-State’s secondary, too.
Meanwhile, the Roadrunners can’t run (haha, so funny TB) very well at 104th Success Rate and 74th IsoPPP. Though the Roadrunners are birds, they would rather run than fly (pass), where they rank among the bottom 30 teams in the country by every major advanced stat (Success Rate, IsoPPP, Completion Rate, Sack Rate). So maybe K-State can get a sack or two this weekend!
Befitting a team with an associate head coach and another coach assigned to special teams game plans, K-State ranks in the bottom half of the country in punt and kick coverage efficiency, and in the middle of the country by return efficiency. Truly finding value in the margins! UTSA isn’t much better, but they’re number one in punt return efficiency!
K-State needs to find an identity in this game and win handily to build confidence for next week’s trip to Morgantown. I’m not optimistic it happens.
Wildcats 28, UTSA 7