Before I begin, allow me to shove a little crow in my mouth. I lambasted the two touchdown line Vegas set for Oklahoma State over Iowa State, saying the predicted outcome was ridiculous. For anyone who missed it, final score was Iowa State 10, Oklahoma State 31.
Kansas State received the opening kickoff to start the game, and Tramaine Thompson returned it to the K-State 43 – showing a nice burst up the sideline in doing so. Tyler Lockett, the presumed special teams hero this season, has ceded a lot of returns to his teammates this year. Lockett is still doing damage though, as the Wildcats were able to convert on third-and-five following two lackluster runs with a huge 31 yard strike down the middle of the field.
In spite of all the shots people take at this West Virginia defense, it’s been very stout against the run and allowed less than four yards/carry on the season. It’s also been just as good as advertised thus far. The front seven were absolutely stifling on K-State’s first drive, and held all five runs to under three yards/apiece. In fact, almost all the yardage from K-State’s first drive was on the Lockett catch. It ends after seven plays and 41 yards with an Anthony Cantele field goal to put the Wildcats up 3-0.
On West Virginia’s first play from scrimmage, WVU calls a little run to the right, the defenders swarm, and Arthur Brown sticks the running back two yards deep. The second run is a draw up the middle. No one is in the area, and West Virginia goes for 13 yards and first down. This was KU’s game plan – spread the field, draw defenders to the outside, and attack the middle. It looks like we’ll be seeing this all night. However, on third-and-three West Virginia puts a fullback and two tailbacks in the backfield. Obvious running situation. With this knowledge, K-State stacks the box and stops the drive with a tackle for a loss. West Virginia is ill-advised to try to play K-State straight-up – they’re just gonna get stood up and knocked in the mouth.
West Virginia is able to pin K-State inside their own 20 on the punt. K-State remains unable to run the ball this play. Fortunately, everything you’ve heard about Collin Klein’s improved passing is accurate as he engineers a nine play, 92 yard drive for a touchdown to put K-State up 10-0 – the last play being a sweet Tyler Lockett diving catch that barely saw his feet graze the back of the end zone as fell out of bounds. At this point, the Wildcats are only averaging 2.2 yards/carry, but Klein is six of six passing for 104 yards and a touchdown. I don’t care is John Hubert doesn’t gain another yard as long as this team can keep dropping those sorts of bombs.
One reservation I expressed yesterday has now occurred twice, as on the first play of the second drive Klein had considerable difficulty getting the play call dialed in. With five seconds on the play clock he was still running around screaming out the play, and snapped the ball with only one second left. The same situation played out again later in the drive. K-State hasn’t turned the ball over, but does have two penalties for twenty yards. Klein is now seven for eight and 118 yards. 14.8 yards per pass. And the Wildcats have the ball. Get excited.