So, good news and bad news.
Bad News: Based on what I’m looking at K-State has a infinitesimal chance to win this game.
Good News: You could say that about the last two K-State wins over the Sooners.
Once again, this game threw everything you thought you knew about both teams out the window. K-State threw the ball all over the field. Spencer Rattler was stunningly efficient.
Scoring Offense vs Scoring Defense (Points Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 28 (73rd)
Oklahoma Defense: 16 (21st)
I wish I had better news for y’all, but we’ve got a matchup between a struggling offense and a solid defense. The only positive spin is that they haven’t played anyone of note on offense. West Virginia might be the best, and they’re not good. At the same time, the Kansas State offense isn’t good.
Best case scenario, K-State cobbles together 21-24 points through a combination of offense, special teams, and defensive scores and hopes Oklahoma continues to inexplicably implode on offense.
Kansas State Offense: 31 (+3)
Oklahoma Defense: 31 (-15)
Maybe the Kansas State offense is good? I expected it to be good this season with Skylar playing behind a solid offensive line, and Deuce in the backfield. Things fell apart for a bit, but maybe this is the Wildcat offense moving forward?
I was close on this one, K-State managed to cobble together 31 points (including yet another kick return for a touchdown). Oklahoma’s offense, unfortunately, did not im-plode. In fact, it ex-ploded. Spencer Rattler choosing this game to look like the player he was hyped to be in the preseason was unfortunate timing.
Total Offense vs Total Defense (Yards Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 345 (103rd)
Oklahoma Defense: 296 (26th)
Woof, teams that can’t throw the ball tend to struggle in this category, and K-State struggles to throw the ball. It’s tough to rack up consistent yards on the ground against 8-9 man boxes on defense. I still maintain the best path forward for the Wildcats is a run heavy offense paired with an aggressive downfield passing attack. You don’t have to complete a bunch of passes if the ones you complete go for big yardage. It’s clear at this point, that if the Wildcats have to pass to win, they’re going to lose.
Kansas State Offense: 420 (+75)
Oklahoma Defense: 420 (-124)
K-State did not struggle to throw the ball. If you’re looking at “value to team” Skylar laid to a significant marker in the Big12 MVP race last Saturday, because the Wildcats are totally different team with him pulling the trigger. Looking at the Howard/Lewis game film is worthless, because this is a different offense. You might say, “should there be this big of a difference between your starting and back up quarterback?” To which I respond, “stop being a killjoy (and then whisper, “No, quarterback development is something that needs to be addressed in the offseason.”)!”
The best path forward for the Wildcats is what we witnessed last Saturday, perhaps with 5-10 fewer passes. I’d like to see Irvin get a few more touches at running back. Other than that, give me Skylar tossing it around the park, paired with a run game that should have more space to operate with the defense actually concerned about the passing game, sounds like a formula for success.
3rd Down Conversion Percentage vs 3rd Down Conversion Defense
Kansas State Offense: 34% (102nd)
Oklahoma Defense: 30% (22nd)
Last week submarined this stat for the Wildcats. It has to be better if they want any chance this week. That means winning on first and second down and keeping 3rd downs manageable. They have to hang around enough to lean on their run game. If this game comes down to K-State having to regularly pick up 3rd and 5+, they might lose by 30+.
Kansas State Offense: 53% (8/15) (+19%)
Oklahoma Defense: 53% (-23%)
Struggles on third down? I’m not sure what K-State team you’ve been watching, but the team I watched last Saturday didn’t struggle on 3rd down. It’s amazing how much space there is on the field when the forward pass is incorporated into the game plan.
The Wildcats are going to be tough to beat down the stretch if they can maintain anything close to this level of 3rd down efficiency. If they can maintain their 4/5 performance on 4th downs, it’s even better. I’m all in on “refuse to punt” Klieman.
Rushing Offense vs Rushing Defense (Yards Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 184 (47th)
Oklahoma Defense: 74 (9th)
This is not great. This is skewed by a weak schedule, but Oklahoma, at worst, is competent in run defense and at best elite. The Wildcats have to hope they’re closer to competent. K-State has been able to punish Oklahoma in the past with a misdirection based scheme that catches the aggressive Sooner slanting their defensive line play side and popping big runs on weak-side misdirection. Expect to see a heavy dose those runs early in the game.
Kansas State Offense: 100
Oklahoma Defense: 100
If you told me Kansas State was going to have 100 rushing yards before the game, I would have wagered everything I could possibly lay claim to on Oklahoma covering the spread. Luckily, that time travel scenario did not play out in this timeline and I held onto all my earthly possessions.
If anything, the run game was disappointing on Saturday. Some of that was because Oklahoma came in determined to stop the run, dedicated significant resources towards the line of scrimmage, and got picked apart in the passing game by Skylar Thompson doing his best vintage Alex Smith (minus the mobility, although I think Alex Smith is a good comp for Skylar in the NFL). Teams are going to watch what happened last Saturday on film, and adjust accordingly. I don’t think you’ll see K-State regularly eclipse 300 yard passing, but I also don’t you’ll see them held close to 100 yards either.
Passing Offense vs Passing Defense (Yards Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 160 (118th)
Oklahoma Defense: 283 (31st)
Again, I wish this were better, but it’s not. Trying to force a busted passing game is only going to lead to frustration and futility. If Skylar plays (I’ll get to that later) this should improve. If Lewis starts, this should improve. I still think Will Howard might give the Wildcat’s their best chance of winning, and in that case, 160 yards would be considered a solid outing, as long as they come in big chunks and end up in the end zone.
Kansas State Offense: 320 (+160)
Oklahoma Defense: 320 (-37)
Turns out the passing game wasn’t busted. We were dealing with a case of user error, which cleared up once Skylar picked up the controls. That looked like a well balanced passing attack, and should only improve with additional reps and a potentially healthy Imatorbhehe and Chabastin Taylor available after the off week (fingers crossed).
A healthy Thompson throwing to a healthy receiving group, with Deuce torching teams in both the run and pass game could make for an exciting second half of the season (I know it’s not exactly the half way point, but if feels that way.)
Yards Per Passing Completion vs Yards Allowed Per Completion
Kansas State Offense: 15 (16th)
Oklahoma Defense: 10.5
Seeing K-State towards the top of any passing ratings is jarring. Throwing the ball down the field hasn’t been an issue. Passing efficiency has been the issue. An inefficient, but high yards per completion offense is the way forward. In order for that to work, the run game has to work, despite run stuffing boxes, and whoever is playing quarterback has to make the most of deep opportunities (and as Jon pointed out earlier this week, the wide receivers have to catch the dang ball). These opportunities should be available if the run game is working and the score is close.
Kansas State Offense: 11 (-4)
Oklahoma Defense: 11 (-.5)
This stat will drop with Skylar at the helm, but if only drops to somewhere between 11-12 yards per completion, that’s awesome. The game plan was pass heavy with the team chasing points in the 4th quarter, but in games where K-State is able to dictate the terms on offense, I think somewhere between 11-12 will be the sweet spot, if not somewhere between 12-13. Skylar loves the intermediate passing game with occasional deep shots mixed into the equation.
Sacks Allowed vs Defensive Sacks (Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 1.5 (31st)
Oklahoma Defense: 3.5 (14th)
Gulp, OK, it’s time for some real talk.
This is one of those times where being a bit of an outsider might give me a little more perspective. If I were coaching this game (and I’m not, for the record) Skylar would sit this one out. If I were a K-State die hard, I would be clamoring for Skylar to play. Oklahoma is already an aggressive defense, and an injured quarterback in a bulky knee brace is blood in the water for a pass rush. Unless that knee is close to 100%, he’s going to be a sitting duck in the pocket.
Part of what makes Skylar a good quarterback is his ability to avoid the rush and complete passes on the move. Another part of the Skylar equation is the ever present threat of him breaking off a big run. If those two things are taken away because of a bum knee, I don’t think he’s the best option at quarterback in this game, and that’s saying something considering the other options.
It’s a long season, and I’m not sure the risk/reward part of the equation in this game is worth not having Skylar for the rest of the year. Another week off, and then a week to shake off the rust post idle week is still my preference.
Sorry y’all, I want to see him play too.
Kansas State Offense: 1 (+.5)
Oklahoma Defense: 1 (-2.5)
Hey, I’m happy to admit I was wrong. They still lost the game with Skylar at quarterback, but it’s a loss that could propel the offense forward in the off week. These guys needed a boost of confidence heading into this break, and they had confidence shot directly into their heart.
Skylar clearly wasn’t 100%, but he was smart enough to unload the ball early, and move in the pocket enough to protect himself. Oklahoma came with the pressure, but the offensive line and running backs did a great job of giving him enough time to throw the ball. He attempted 41 passes and was only sacked once.
Tackles For Loss Allowed vs Tackles for Loss (Per Game)
Kansas State Offense: 5.25 (53rd)
Oklahoma Defense: 5 (42nd)
Tackles for loss are drive killers for the Wildcats. If they get behind the sticks on first and second down, a surprise third down punt may be the best option. The offensive line has to create space for Deuce and Joe. Both are adept at sliding through the small creases in the and making something out of nothing. If Oklahoma hits their 5 TFL average, K-State is in trouble, because that’s 5 sure punts.
Kansas State Offense: 8 (-2.75)
Oklahoma Defense: 8 (+3)
The Oklahoma defense was aggressive all game. They did a good job of jumping into gaps, getting into the backfield and getting the running back on the ground. K-State’s slow developing run plays are prone to TFLs. The offense with Skylar, however, is more adept at picking up 3rd downs, even if they’re not the (3rd and short) variety.
Red Zone Offense vs Red Zone Defense (% of Scores Inside the Red Zone)
Kansas State Offense: 98% (32nd) 13 Attempts, 9 Rush TDs, 0 Pass TDS, 3 FGs, 1 Miss
Oklahoma Defense: 77% (44th) 13 Attempts, 4 Rush TDs , 3 Pass TDS, 3 FGs, 3 Stops
Cue Pink Floyd...Run...Run...Run...Run...You better run all day, and run all night. K-State is a great red zone team because they get deep in the red zone with their run game and punch in goal line runs. That’s the formula. They’re not going to get many red zone opportunities and they have to cash in the ones they do get for 7. Any missed red zone opportunity, including field goals, are tough for this team to overcome.
Kansas State Offense: 80% (-18%) 5 Attempts, 3 Pass TDs, 1 FG, 1 Miss (fumble)
Oklahoma Defense: 80% (+3%)
Oh, what could have been if that Wright red zone fumble didn’t happen on first drive. That took what looked like 7 off the board, and set Oklahoma up in the red zone after the return. The defense held them to 3 but that was a huge swing. It’s hard to overcome that as an under dog. The field goal also hurt. The only sack for Oklahoma happened on 3rd down in the red zone, knocking K-State out of “go for it” territory.
You don’t pull off huge upset leaving points in the red zone. On the positive side, Skylar did an excellent job of hitting receivers in the compressed field and will make K-State and even bigger headache in the red zone moving forward.
My Take Away
This may be your typical shoddy Oklahoma defense propped up by some terrible opponents, but I think they’re going to be decent. If Skylar plays and is healthy, K-State has a 5-10% chance to win. If Skylar is hurt and plays, K-State has a 0% -2% chance to win. I think they have those same odds with Howard or Lewis. I don’t think Skylar should play.
I wish I had better news to report. After this game, things get easier. They have to survive this thing both physically and mentally. It’s going to take Oklahoma blowing holes in their feet in a slug fest for the Wildcats to win. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, but it’s close to the outer edge of the realm. K-State has Oklahoma’s attention, and the Sooners should be dialed in after their escape last week.
Keep the faith friends and stay safe, this one might be a bit rocky. I’ll be ecstatic if I can come back next week and call myself a pessimistic idiot.
My Take Away
“What’s wrong with the Kansas State offense!”
That was a constant refrain over the last few weeks. Sometimes the obvious answer is also the correct answer. Skylar sitting on the bench was what was wrong with the Kansas State offense. Skylar playing in the game was the cure for the offense.
With the 2 toughest teams in the Big12 behind them, this team has the potential to reach 8 or 9 wins. That would be huge for momentum moving into the “post Skylar era” of K-State football, but you know what, let’s not worry about the future.
This could get fun.