Collin Klein must be able to communicate plays at the line of scrimmage on Saturday.
K-State hasn’t been playing smart football recently. That’s a statement you won’t read anywhere else on the internet. Yes, they’ve kept their turnovers to a minimum all season – I won’t deny they’ve been playing exceptionally good football. But they haven’t been smart. It started right before halftime in the game against KU. Nigel Malone had just recorded an interception to give K-State the ball with 16 seconds left at the KU five yard line. The offense wasn’t able to get set when it came on the field, and Collin Klein had to burn their final timeout before running the first play. Play call was bootleg run to the left, Klein is tackled at the one, and the clock runs out.
In this instance, K-State failed to enter intermission up 28-14 due to a lack of preparedness and questionable play-calling. The Wildcats should have had a timeout to stop the clock after Klein’s run, but didn’t, and couldn’t get off another play in time. The coaches should have changed the original play call and dialed up a quick pass first so that the clock would stop if unsuccessful. More importantly, they should have had their team ready to run the original play call so that the timeout wasn’t burned in the first place. I simply can’t believe KU showed a defensive formation tricky enough to scare Klein out of whatever he wanted to run and forced the timeout.
Against Iowa State, the Wildcats burned through timeouts like Vince Young has burned through his career earnings. All three were gone before the end of the first quarter. Each burn was due to K-State’s inability to adjust. When Klein attempted to call out the play, it was too loud to get the play barked out and he had to burn his timeouts. Credit the Iowa State defensive coordinators for getting K-State off-balance with their defensive fronts and the Cyclone crowd for getting loud – it clearly rattled their opponents. As such, it’s really important for everyone on this K-State team to know that the West Virginia crowd is also going to be loud and hostile. In fact, Morgantown boasts an even larger stadium than Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, and don’t believe for a second that students will stay home because their team lost last week. It’s gonna be loud (let’s just hope they’re able to abstain from rioting in the stands).
Additionally, K-State incurred a slew of penalties last weekend. Now, it wasn’t Oakland Raiders bad, but the team was still nailed with nine yellow flags and penalized 62 yards. You eat these mistakes against the Lawrence Chickenhawks and still come out a winner. Mistakes against Iowa State can be overcome because K-State boasts markedly better units everywhere but linebacker and secondary. West Virginia is a different breed of animal. Similar to playing in Norman, K-State needs to play smart if it hopes to win against the Mountaineers on the road. I still believe they improve to 7-0 tomorrow night, but if the scoreboard indicates Kansas State only possesses one timeout left with five minutes to go in the first quarter, look out. The Wildcats can’t make a BCS bowl without smarter play than they’ve exhibited during the first halves of their past two games.