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Thoughts After Morgantown

It’s simpler than you might think

NCAA Football: Kansas State at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve mostly tried to keep my opinion out of my BOTC articles. I haven’t been around Kansas State long enough for it to carry any weight. I’ve watched all the K-State games from this season and last, but I’m assuming a good many of you have been watching before you can actually remember watching. Recently, however, I’ve had several people around Manhattan ask me what I think about the Wildcats right now, so I thought I would go ahead and answer that question in three sections.

No Margin For Error

The Wildcats don’t have enough talent to recover from mistakes. If they want a chance to win, they have to play clean. Against Mississippi State and West Virginia, that didn’t happen, and they got ran off the field.

The offense has to stay on schedule. It can’t commit holding penalties and the quarterback can’t take sacks. Right now, it’s a struggle to pick up 10 yards in 4 downs. Adding extra yardage to the equation is a death sentence. Against West Virginia, the Wildcats were putting together an impressive early drive, and then got called for an illegal hands to the face, and that was the end of the drive.

This also means K-State has to cash in on opportunities when they are presented. Skylar Thompson had an opportunity to hit Isaiah Zuber for a touchdown in the first half, but under threw the ball, allowing West Virginia to catch up and make the tackle. A perfect throw puts 6 on the board, and that throw had to be perfect.

To compound matter, the Wildcats dropped two touchdown passes. That can’t happen. When the offense is struggling to score, dropping points, even if the catches are difficult is something that you can’t recover from. Andre Coleman called a great play, Blaise Gannon ran a great route, and Thompson threw a good pass. That play has to be rewarded with points, and it wasn’t.

Finally, the defense can’t bust. The opposing offense driving it down the field and scoring is going to happen. Giving up uncontested deep balls to wide open receivers running basic Go routes should not happen, and it certainly shouldn’t happen twice. I understand that the defense is selling out because they can’t get pressure with four, but if you’re bringing the house, you had better influence the quarterback, because the secondary has not shown the ability to cover deep in man to man.

No Identity On Offense

I can’t figure out if K-State wants to be a power run team, a spread team, a power-spread team, or some other hyphenated hybrid. Right now I simply identify the offense as bad.

I know it’s easy to put that all at the feet of Andre Coleman, but I think that’s unfair. He was promoted (at least in my opinion) because he was going to breath some fresh air into a stale offense. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the Wildcats are equipped to run anything other than the offense from last year.

It’s time for the coaching staff to get together and figure out how to salvage the season, because the current trajectory is straight down. The only way to do this is to go back to the run dominant offense. It’s not dynamic, it’s not fun, and it might not get the job done, but at least it’s coherent. The Wildcats are struggling to execute the expanded playbook, and I’m not sure they are going to improve as the season moves along. It’s time to put the call sheet on an index card and run plays the team can execute efficiently instead of running plays they wish the offense could execute.

Talent Gap

This is the biggest problem, and it’s not good, because there isn’t a solution (at least not on the current roster). K-State has to bring their A game to win.

As I mentioned above, there is no margin for error. You can draw up the perfect play, and your players can execute the play to the best of their ability, but if the other team has better players, even that isn’t enough sometimes. When West Virginia needed a big play, they went with “be faster than the guy trying to stop you and I’ll toss it deep.” That’s a nice option to have and it certainly makes the game easier. The Wildcats don’t have that tool in the box and it makes everything more difficult.

Currently, I’m not sure the Wildcats can win with their A game if the other team brings their A game....or B game in some cases. That wasn’t West Virginia’s fast ball. They were sloppy on offense early, but rode their talent advantage until things started to click. The Mountaineers have a wide margin of error against K-State, and that makes the game easier.

More troubling, if K-State brings anything less than their A game, they’re going to get blown out by decent teams. Honestly, I’m not even sure what the A game looks like at this point, but I hope I haven’t seen it yet. Maybe it will show up against the Longhorns.