Kansas State now has 2 games under their belt. Those games definitely featured two different Wildcat teams. Yes, Missouri State was the “let down game” between UCLA and Iowa State. However, that does give us a chance to see both ends of the spectrum on both sides of the ball. Consistency will be a concern moving forward this year, as we are still yet to see what this 2010 Wildcat team is capable of. If there is anyone to coach consistency and get the maximum out of a player or unit, it’s Bill Snyder.
K-State on Offense
We knew what to expect from Daniel Thomas, and he is delivering. However William Powell has given the Wildcats a great 1-2 punch at running back, and has made some big plays over the first two games, and will provide a great change of pace from Thomas. With Thomas’ vast experience at quarterback and a threat to throw it (as we saw with the jump pass attempt), I would expect to see more plays run from the wildcat. With the talent in the backfield to run the option, plus the threat to pass; it would help create some mismatches for the defense.
Improvement in quarterback play was the big story coming from game 2. Carson Coffman appeared much more comfortable in the Missouri State game than the quarterback we saw against UCLA. Granted that MSU had a far less potent pass rush than UCLA, Coffman seemed more in-synch with the offense, and let the game come to him. A large improvement coming off a game where he at times seem to try to force plays that weren’t there, show indecision, and miss a receiver or two. Coffman stretched the defense vertically, and made the MSU secondary cover a large field. If Coffman continues to develop his timing with the receivers, the confidence to go down field, and Thomas continues to command respect from defenses, it should take a lot of the pressure off Coffman and allow him to make plays.
The receiving corps is ready to carry the load. Aubrey Quarles and Brodrick Smith have produced early. Between Quarles and Smith, not to mention a host of other targets, there is the talent and playmakers on this team to get open, and make plays after the catch. Worthy of note that Quarles and Smith each made key blocks that sprung Thomas loose for some big gains. When wide receivers block effectively, it often opens up the outside and/or makes that block at the last level to break a big gain.
K-State on Defense
It all starts with the front 7. So far this year, they have only had moderate success in consistently controlling the line of scrimmage. Getting pressure on the quarterback and stopping the run have been problematic at times. Especially against UCLA’s pistol formation. Rushing defense has given up an average of 179.5 yards/game, and they only have 4 sacks. Brandon Harold and Alex Hrbec have played well, but need someone to step in to help regain control of line of scrimmage. It is never advisable to have your safety (Tysyn Hartman) be second on the team in tackles. The front 7 will get better over the course of the year provided they stay healthy.
The secondary played extremely well for most of the UCLA game, making plays on the ball, making quality hits on receivers, and looking overall faster than the UCLA offense. It wasn’t until UCLA’s final drive that they had a couple breakdowns which allowed for some big plays downfield. The Missouri State game had a few more lapses in coverage, unexpectedly allowing nearly 300 passing yards. A significant portion of those yards came on deep passes. Look for opponents to test the Wildcats deep early and perhaps often.
K-State on Special Teams
A staple of Bill Snyder football is getting points on special teams. Historically those points come through kick/punt returns or turnovers. So to see the special teams come through with a fake field goal attempt from sophomore kicker Anthony Cantele was quite an unexpected twist. The Wildcats have threatened to break a return on multiple occasions, but appear right on the fringe of putting it all together.
Speaking of kickers, the job seems to be up for grabs. Cantele had a great game against UCLA, but missed an extra point and a field goal against Missouri State; and was later benched in favor of senior Josh Cherry. Coach Snyder will probably favor consistency, but it may be a kicking game, by committee. Punter Ryan Doerr has performed well, averaging 41.5 yards/punt.