A win feels great for a team and a fan base. Kansas State’s win last Saturday may not have shook the headlines or made much of ripple outside of the local area, but it sure felt great to the Wildcat faithful. After hitting a skid where the Cats had lost three in a row and hadn’t tasted victory since September 14th against the UMass Minutemen, Kansas State secured their first league victory 35-12 against the West Virginia Mountaineers. After a close game at the half, KSU turned up the momentum in the second half, using the aerial ball to win. While Daniel Sams was held in check running the ball, (14 attempts, 16 yards, 1.1 average) both Sams and Waters did damage by the air. Sams connected on all 8 of his passing attempts for 93 yards and a score, while Jake Waters was 10-13 for 198 yards and three TD’s.
The receiving core had a huge day, as Tyler Lockett had 8 catches for 111 yards and 3 TD’s, Curry Sexton added 6 catches for 112 yards, and Tremaine Thompson added 3 catches for 53 yards and 1 score. The Cats got John Hubert going, as the senior tailback gained 86 yards on the ground and added 1 TD as well. After weeks of frustration, the Wildcats offense looked good; the only surprise was the West Virginia’s game plan to stop Sams running ability. So what will be this week’s key match up as the Iowa State Cyclones visit Manhattan? The offensive play-calling, or coaching. First let’s take a quick look at the Cyclones.
If Kansas State was desperate for a win last weekend, Iowa State is starving for one. The Cyclones enter the game at 1-6, (0-4 in the league). In league play, the Cyclones had victory ripped out of their hands against Texas 31-30, barely lost to Texas Tech 42-35 and been blown out by Baylor (71-7) and Oklahoma State this past weekend (58-27). Last weekend, Okie State jumped to a 21-0 lead in the 1st against the Cyclones and never looked back. After closing the gap to 28-20 at half, the Cyclones had to return without starting quarterback Sam Richardson, who left the game after a blow to the head and neck. (Coach Paul Rhodes believes Richardson will suit up this weekend against the Cats.) Oklahoma State gashed Iowa State on the ground, running for 342 total yards, led by Desmond Roland with 219 and 4 TD’s. Richardson’s availability this weekend is key. The QB sits third in league for total offense at 237.3 per game as well as 3rd in league in passing (192.9). While these stats haven’t turned into victories, the offense can stay in games if Richardson is clicking.
As I stated, my key match up is the offensive play-calling/coaching going into the Iowa State match up. While Kansas State has won the previous 5 contests with the Cyclones, no margin of victory has been greater than 8 points. Play-calling will be key in this game. I believe that the Cats and Coach Snyder have done a better job managing quarterbacks the past few weeks, as Sams shined against Baylor, Waters against West Virginia. Iowa State enters the contest last in the league in all defensive categories, giving up 219.3 rushing, 262.4 passing, for a total of 481.7 yards per game. The key will be utilizing the emergence of the passing attack we thought Waters could bring, and the run game we expect from Hubert and Sams. As up and down as the season has been, I think Coach Snyder was learning, as well as the team, to adjust to each QB’s. Iowa State should be a game the Cats should win, if the coaches can scheme and get the offense rolling in both aspects. If so, Kansas State can get that 2nd conference win, and look to build towards bowl consideration.