Following the disappointing showing against North Dakota State to start its season, K-State turned things around in what was a pretty easy victory over Louisiana Lafayette, 48-27. There’s still work to be done up front, and next week’s game against UMass is the perfect opportunity to work out the kinks before the Wildcats visit Austin in two weeks. Let’s look at the five things to watch we identified leading up to the game.
Can K-State Kick?
Well, after two weeks we still don’t have a real great handle on this question. Jack Cantele kicked two field goals (he didn’t attempt one against NDSU), and is perfect on the year. However, his two attempts were from 27 and 29 yards. He can hit from over 50 in practice, but this skill has yet to be put to the test when it matters. He’s also 9/9 on PATs this year. Lafayette attempted to return six of his nine kickoffs, so he wasn’t exactly forcing touchbacks, although a couple of those returns were pretty ill-advised and one was returned 100 yards for a touchdown.
Mark Krause continued to look good replacing Ryan Doerr at punter, although given the way K-State’s offense moved the ball he only had two boots Saturday. He kicked a 45 and a 50-yarder, averaging an impressive 47.5 yards/punt. One of them was in the red zone. Small sample size, but a nice showing.
Can Jake Waters Keep Completing Passes?
Yes. He had two interceptions again, but similar to last week, you can’t put all the blame on his shoulders. In fact, the first was a perfect (though a little hard) pass that bounced off his intended receiver up into the air – the point of delivery was good. Waters cooled off a bit, completing 22 of 31 passes (still 71 percent) and went without a touchdown pass. He had 278 yards passing, good for 8.9 yards/pass and 12.6/completion. Daniel Sams saw more time this week (though Waters was the primary signal caller). Sams threw two passes, one of which was a 27-yard pass to tight end Zach Trujillo, but was more successful as a runner with 63 yards and a score.
Speaking Of Run Game, Who Establishes It?
Both teams did a mediocre job here – not bad, but not great. Lafayette outgained K-State on the ground, 177 to 149, and averaged 4.4 yards per carry to K-State’s 4.0. Importantly, John Hubert looked better this go around. There’s still work to be done for him to resemble his 2012 self, and he averaged just 3.1 yards with 56 yards on 18 carries. However, he had two touchdowns and provided consistency. K-State’s longest run of the night was only 13 yards (Daniel Sams), but the Wildcats didn’t allow a run longer than 20 yards either.
Keenan Taylor’s Performance
Well, Taylor played better than last week. Waters had more time to pass, but the match up was easier than Taylor trying to block NDSU’s defensive line. At the end of the day, K-State fans should be looking forward to when Boston Stiverson is healthy and ready to return to the starting line up.
How Much Better Is The Defensive Line?
Better – there’s no question there. It was really hot on the field and the coaching staff did a bit of subbing to help keep players fresh throughout the game. As stated, Lafayette did average 4.4 yards per run, but there was good pressure on quarterback Terrance Broadway all night. Also consider that one of the touchdowns they put up was a 100 yard kick off return, while the team also gave up a field goal in the first quarter after Waters’ first interception gave the Ragin’ Cajuns the ball at the 26. The defense held them to a field, which is about as good as you can hope for given the circumstances. Take away those scores, which the defense had little control over, and K-State only allowed 14 points on Saturday.
If you want to take that line of logic a step further, Waters’ other interception gave Lafayette the ball at the 17-yard line. That’s another lose-lose, where the best the defense can reasonably hope for is a field goal. There was only one scoring drive the Lafayette offense “earned,” the other 20 points were thanks to the Cajun defense and special teams. That’s a total effort on the part of the defense, but defensive line play was a major component.