Unfortunately, they were sprinkled across what felt like nine hours of pure misery.
Isaiah Zuber quietly had a great day personally, and the defense provided some highlights with three interceptions courtesy of AJ Parker, Jahron McPherson, and Johnathan Durham and a fumble recovery by Jordan Mittie. But it was mostly a disaster.
The Wildcats were beaten to a pulp on both sides of the line of scrimmage, completely outclassed by a clearly more-talented Mountaineer squad. The comprehensive nature of the beating was so apparent that analysis isn’t even necessary here; K-State just got taken behind the woodshed.
The beating overshadowed what was actually a decent effort on the part of the Wildcat defense. Yes, Will Grier had 356 yard passing and five touchdowns on 25-35 passing. 144 of those yards came at the expense of Parker, beaten twice on long touchdown passes — an 82-yarder to Marcus Simms and a 62-yard strike to Tevin Bush. Aside from those two plays, Grier had to settle for a ton of short passes, enabled by K-State’s general inability to apply any pressure.
The stars of the game for K-State aren’t very much in doubt. Mittie gets the honor for the defense, as he added a sack to his fumble recovery. On offense, Zuber had 133 receiving yards and 10 receptions to lead the way.
Dalton Schoen was invisible in the first half, but did have three catches for 64 yards in the second. The Wildcats accumulated 227 yards passing, which we’d normally laud... but K-State only managed 318 yards of offense overall despite that.
So, what did we learn?
1) Some people think Skylar Thompson had a bad game, but they’re wrong.
Twitter was awash with the usual nonsense, and it only ramped up when Delton entered the game. But it was just that: nonsense.
Sure, Thompson was rattled here and there, and was unable to get K-State into the end zone. That was entirely not his fault, as the offensive line was completely useless both against the Mountaineer pass rush and in run blocking. Thompson’s numbers belie any accusation that he personally had a bad day; he was 11-17 for 145 yards despite being pulled in the third quarter to give Alex Delton a try.
2) Regardless, we may have another quarterback controversy anyway.
What did Delton do when he came in? He didn’t run. Well, he did, but only eight times and only for 28 yards. But he did come out throwing, and with the exception of one poorly-thrown fade which should have resulted in a touchdown to Zuber, he was pretty decent: 7-12 for 82 yards.
3) The offensive line may be irretrievably broken.
That Thompson and Delton were able to complete 18 passes to anyone at all was a minor miracle, as West Virginia was up in their grills non-stop. On the ground, what was supposed to be one of the best offensive lines in all of college football was somehow only able to open 91 yards worth of holes.
This was yet another unacceptable performance from a unit which is much better than they’re playing. They need to get it together, and do it fast.
4) A change may be necessary in the secondary, but it’s still good.
Aside from the two bad beats of Parker, the Wildcat secondary put together what will probably be viewed by season’s end as a pretty creditable effort against a quarterback who’s going to be posting ridiculous numbers against typical Big 12 secondaries. Three picks against a legitimate Heisman candidate is nothing to be ashamed of. Duke Shelley kept his side of the field mostly under control, too.
Parker has the talent to be a Big 12 cornerback, but his beats today are deeply concerning. On both occasions he was left without any help over the top, yet let his man get a couple of steps on him and that was that.
5) What flaws the defense did display can mostly be laid at the feet of the offense anyway.
One of the worst things an offense can do to its own defense is to quickly surrender possession and give the other team good field position. Five times today West Virginia started drives outside their own 40, and one other drive started at their own 34. That is not Snyderball.
The Wildcat defense did the offense a ton of favors today, forcing four turnovers and two punts which resulted in good field position for K-State. The offense didn’t give the defense the same respect at all, and it’s to the defense’s credit that they performed as well as they did.
Next Saturday, K-State has a chance as Texas drops into the Bill. But both sides of the line need to get it together before then, or the overwhelming talent advantage Texas always has is going to make a difference.