We’re two games into the season and if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson are real good. Everything else is a question mark. So with one game to go before K-State travels down to Austin to take on a reeling Texas team, here are the five things to keep your eye on when the Wildcats take the field against Massachusetts on Saturday:
- Daniel Sams Average Yards Per Carry: I get it, people are running around like chickens with their heads cut off because Sams isn’t seeing the field more. If he plays 90 percent of the snaps but can’t move the ball, people will be screaming about how Jake Waters was completing over 70 percent of his passes and was inexplicably benched. Bill Snyder is playing chess, not checkers – there’s a bigger plan at work. So I’m not interested in what sort of work Sams gets, I just want to know how effective he is in action. Sams had eight carries against Louisiana Lafayette, and seven went for over five yards. If he can do that again, he may be prepped to get 200 yards against a porous Texas run defense.
- Defensive Rotations: The Wildcats have been forced to endure some brutal heat the past two weeks (personally, I had a hard time climbing the stairs in the second half in those conditions), but it should subside a bit for this game. How many snaps do the first stringers take without being subbed out? This could be an indication of how comfortable the coaching staff is with the current starting 11. Fatigue shouldn’t play as much of a factor, and playing the same players every down (exempting for necessary package changes) will mean this team is settled.
- Shutout?: UMass was shut out 45-0 against Wisconsin, and scored two touchdowns in a 24-14 loss to Maine. Can the Wildcats rise to the challenge and blank the Minutemen? A zero isn’t important to me at the end of the game, but I’d like to see the defense hold UMass to no points after three quarters. North Dakota bullied the defense and there were a couple breakdowns against Lafayette. If the defense can’t shut down Massachusetts, it’s gonna have problems against Baylor.
- Offensive Line Play: Boston Stiverson didn’t suit up against North Dakota State, and also watched from the sidelines against Lafayette as Keenan Taylor filled in at right guard. Taylor was the starter last year when Stiverson was only a freshman, but Stiverson is better and listed as the starter going into the season. Yet Taylor was first on the depth chart again this week, and must put in a solid performance. B.J. Finney said that the line lacks a ‘nastiness’ quality that it exhibited last year – the entire team seems to lack enthusiasm.
- Oklahoma State’s Performance: Granted, this has nothing to do with what’s going down at Bill Snyder Stadium on Saturday, but how distracted will the Cowboys be after the bombshells that Sports Illustrated has been dropping recently? The expose they’ve put together could have both short and severe long-term implications.
5a. (because I cheated with that last one) Enthusiasm: Revisiting Finney’s quote, that’s not the only time he’s implied the team failed to bring the same passion as it exhibited in 2012. Let’s see if the Wildcats can get excited for this one. If the defense is jumping around after making plays and the offense celebrating about scoring points against a highly overmatched opponent, they’ll finally be ready to take on Texas.