Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Game day is here and with it comes the opportunity to answer several questions left lingering by last week’s stunning fall to North Dakota State. Here are the five to the game that will give insight into what sort of season to expect out of K-State once conference play begins:
Can K-State Kick?
Unfortunately, we were pretty much deprived of observing K-State’s special teams play last week – Jack Cantele wasn’t allowed an attempted field goal (he kicked three PATs, but excuse me for not getting excited about that), and NDSU refused to kick returnable balls. If this team gets into any more close games, it has to be able to come away with three points if the offense gets the ball to the 20-yard line and stalls. Reports are that Cantele can boot them in practice, now let’s see it on the field. Additionally, Mark Krause looked pretty solid and has officially won the punting job. His issue was consistency before, so let’s see if he can accurately pin Louisiana Lafayette with a short field on a consistent basis.
Can Jake Waters Keep Completing Passes?
Actually, the question may be is Jake Waters given the opportunity to keep passing. He picked up where he left off following his record-breaking year at Iowa Western, and looked to be the best pure-passer since Josh Freeman at K-State. If he plays the majority of the game and hits on over 70 percent of his passes again, K-State is going to have a devastating aerial attack this year. With Curry Sexton, Tramaine Thompson, and Tyler Lockett stretching the field, maybe they can keep defenses on their heels and that’s the solution to rediscovering the run game.
Speaking Of Run Game, Who Establishes It?
K-State managed a pitiful 1.8 yards last week and John Hubert didn’t see many carries against North Dakota State. Daniel Sams may see more time against Louisiana Lafayette to increase the complexity of the ground game and help create some room. You don’t have to read another article on how important it is to get Hubert going this week. On the other side of the ball, there’s a huge question as to whether K-State can stop the run given how the defense was gutted last week and Louisiana Lafayette’s running backs averaged over five yards a carry against Arkansas. So it’s a serious question – who gets their run game chugging first?
Keenan Taylor’s Performance
Boston Stiverson missed the season opener with a foot injury, and it appears Taylor is filling in again at right guard this week. Not to call out one person for last week’s loss, but their were times he didn’t put up much more resistance than a tackling dummy. Stiverson won the starting spot in 2013 because he’s a better football player, while last year he was only a freshman while Taylor was a junior. Even though Stiverson is a better option, Taylor knows what’s expected of a starter and has the experience after he started every game last year. So why was Hubert being tackled so quickly in the backfield? He was not trying to block Ndamukong Suh. Taylor must regain his 2012 form.
How Much Better Is The Defensive Line?
I don’t question whether the defensive line will be better, I want to know how much it improves. Lost in the talk of how it was dominated last week was the fact that while North Dakota State was trotting out senior blockers with significant playing experience, K-State cobbled together four young guys who hadn’t played much at the collegiate level (Ryan Mueller being the exception, as he played extensively as a back up last season). Defensive tackles Chaquil Reed and Travis Britz, as well as defensive end Marquel Bryant, are all sophomores. Mueller is a junior. This unit will undoubtedly be playing much better by November; the key is how much better are they playing the time the Wildcats visit Texas.
That’s it for me folks. I’m in Manhattan for the first time in five years and will see you at the game. EMAW!