Category Archives: K-State Football

_FANalysis: Winging It In Tempe

I had to get rid of it faster than I wanted to, I just laid it up there and he made a great catch. – Ell Roberson

Roberson was describing Derrick Evans’ 10 yard pass reception as K-State took its first lead with less than 2 minutes left and then held on to beat Arizona State in the 2002 Holiday Bowl. For 11 year and 5 years since that night in late December, K-State has come back to Manhattan on the losing end in bowl games.

While bowl games are largely glorified exhibition games, winning them is nice for fans, and it seems  as though things are on K-State’s side going into this year’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against Michigan. First, Michigan is a good match-up for K-State; a solid team that finished 7-5 with several close losses, but certainly not the caliber of K-State’s previous 2 bowl opponents. Second, Michigan will be without their play making quarterback Devin Gardner and instead will be turning over the job to true freshman Shane Morris, who played in a total of 3 games this year with only 9 pass attempts. Third, Michigan has a rich football history and bowl games played in December aren’t a regular occurrence for them. In fact, 85% of Michigan’s bowl appearances have been in January and their last win in a December bowl game was in 1994.

K-State offense vs Michigan defense

The strength of this Michigan team is their defense and the Wolverines have been solid in giving  up only .37 points per play while opponents managed 5.2 yards per play. Michigan’s pass defense has been particularly strong, allowing opponents to complete only 55%, only 6.7 yards per attempt, intercepting 4.2% of opponents’ passes, and only allowing TDs on 4.9% of their attempts. Michigan’s rush defense only allowed opponents to gain 3.8 yards per carry against them and opponents scored TDs on only 2.9% of their rushes. Overall Michigan finished as one of the nations Top 30 defenses, but was largely a “bend but don’t break” philosophy that relied on turnovers and forcing FGs instead of TDs in the redzone.

Meanwhile, K-State’s offense finished at 6.3 yards per play and .52 points per play, both good for top 25 in the country. K-State was particularly explosive in the passing game, averaging 9.2 yards per attempt with TDs on 6.6% of attempts. However, turnovers were a problem (especially early in the year), particularly throwing interceptions on 4.5% of attempts. The running game was solid, gaining 4.5 yards per carry and scoring TDs on nearly 6% of the carries. However, a lot of that was due to the use of Sams in the running game and his use dropped significantly over the last few games.

A particular facet to watch will be big/explosive plays. K-State’s offense ranks #21 nationally for explosive drives (19%) or drives that average at least 10 yards per play. Michigan’s defense has been slightly above average (#46, 11%) in this category against opponents. Another key will be turnovers; in K-State’s last 7 games, only against OU did K-State finish negative (-1) in turnover differential, while Michigan finished positive or even in each of their last 8 games.

K-State defense vs Michigan Offense

The strength for Michigan has been their passing game, with an average of 8.5 yards per attempt and TDs on nearly 6% of attempts. However, that was with Devin Gardner at QB and its unlikely that Morris (with only 9 career attempts) will be able to equal that output. Michigan’s running game has been average, gaining only 3.25 yards per carry, but scoring TDs on 5.4% of their carries. Gardner was also Michigan’s 2nd leading rusher, but Michigan is coming off one of their best rushing games of the year against Ohio State. Also, while Fitzgerald Toussaint led the team in rushing, a pair of freshmen, Derrick Green and De’Von Smith, also had some solid games late in the season and could see significant action against K-State. Michigan will likely try to get the ball to Jeremy Gallon (their version of Tyler Lockett) and a very good tight end in Devin Funchess. However, I look for Michigan to rely more heavily on their trio of backs and hope their offensive line can control K-State’s adequate (but not great) defensive front 7 to protect Morris as much as possible.

Notable about Michigan’s offense is that it often has drives that gain no 1st down or TD (3 and outs); 38% gained neither which rated #94 nationally. (K-State’s offense, especially with Waters, had the same critique from K-State fans, but finished at 29%, #45). Michigan’s offense was also not very explosive (drives that average at least 10 yards/play, 12%, #66) nor methodical (drives of at least 10 plays, 14%, #74). However, K-State’s defense forced 3 and outs on less than 25% of drives (#105) and 17% of drives against them were 10 plays or more (#92). The Wildcat defense did finish the season decent in forcing TOs on 2.8% of plays and INTs on 3.8% of attempts, though the Wolverines were pretty strong at protecting the football (2.4% TOs).

Michigan’s key on offense will be running the football to protect Morris. If they can get their trio of backs going and average over 4 yards per carry, the Wolverines will have a great shot to win this game. I’m sure Morris has enough talent, but his lack of game experience going back to even his senior season (he had mono and only played in 6 games) in high school will force Michigan to protect him as much as possible. Even with decent mobility, Gardner was still sacked 35 times, or nearly 9% of the time (#116 nationally) compared to Michigan’s pass attempts. Michigan will do all they can to make the passing game safe for Morris and their ability to run the ball will be a big part of that. If K-State limits the run and makes Morris beat them with his arm, it seems likely he’ll have at least 2-3 big mistakes that K-State can take advantage of.

Special Teams

The return game is an area where K-State could gain a big advantage in this game, though it looks like K-State will be without FG kicker Jack Cantele. Neither team has been great on punt or KO return coverage efficiency, however K-State finished #7 in punt return efficiency and #29 in KO return efficiency while Michigan was #44 and #53 respectively. K-State will still have to be careful when kicking off with a very capable Dennis Norfleet returning for Michigan.

Conclusion

Michigan is a talented opponent, but it seems like there are too many things in K-State’s favor going into this game. If Gardner was healthy for Michigan, this game would likely come down to the 4th quarter. However, I think K-State will force Morris to beat them and the freshman will make too many critical mistakes. K-State’s offense will likely feature more Daniel Sams than we saw late in the season, but Waters will still have several big plays in the passing game to Lockett and Thompson. K-State wins the TO battle, gets a couple of explosive drives out of the offense, and sets up at least 1 score with a big play in the special teams and all of this is too much for Michigan without Gardner.

K-State 38 – Michigan 27

_FANalysis: All Jacked Up

“I certainly am awfully proud of Cantele. There was a great deal of pressure on a young guy like that and everyone else than was on the field goal unit.” – Bill Snyder

About the only thing K-State’s last game winning FG had in common with Cantele’s against TCU was that it occurred on a windy, mild November day 33 years ago. It was a much different time then; K-State had never been to a bowl game and only 17,500 fans watched Jim Johnson’s game winning kick that gave the Cats a 17-14 win. The 17 yarder with 1 second left brought the Cats their first Big 8 win of the year and their 3rd of the season (Well, technically their 4th, a 20-18 loss to KU was later declared a KU forfeit because the Jayhawks played an ineligible player.) These types of seasons were common in Manhattan then as the Wildcats had only won more than 5 games in a season once in the previous 25 years and had been ranked for a total of 6 weeks in their 68 year history to that point.

K-State’s current season resembled what fans saw in 1980 through the first 6 games this year, but Cantele’s kick continued an impressive turnaround and a 4 game winning streak. The win against a talented TCU team trying to salvage bowl eligibility didn’t come easily and the offensive production was a mixed bag. Big plays and solid play in stretches led to scores on 7 of 13 offensive possessions, but the other 6 drives featured 18 plays that gained only 31 yards and led to two TOs and four 3 and outs. K-State continued the quarterback rotation with an effective day running from Sams and some timely big pass plays from Waters, who at times struggled throwing the ball. Even with numerous poor stretches of football, K-State’s offense managed to produce more points per play and yards per play than any TCU opponent this season and as a result the Cats secured bowl eligibility for the 4th straight season.

Personnel

Last week’s _FANalysis discussed how K-State’s game plan going into the Texas Tech game featured the use of a single formation that brought lots of success during the course of the game. This week the results were quite different and K-State was forced to use a wide variety of formations.

The chart does show that K-State featured 1 back sets against TCU and the same personnel group of 1 RB/3 WRs/1 TE (from last week) brought the most success, but it was a much more diverse set of formations. K-State used four different formations to run 27 plays with this personnel group and none of those formations was used more than 11 times. In fact, the most successful formation was only used 4 times and featured a slight twist on how the Cats typically use 1 TE with 3 WRs because in these sets Trujillo was lined up in the backfield where the FB usually lines up. Both 70+ yard pass plays came from this set, but it would be a stretch to say the formation influenced those plays much because on one the CB bit on a great route by Lockett and on the other the CB tripped after his feet got caught up with Thompson. The passing game from 1 back formations was very successful overall, but notice the running game failed to reach 4 yards per carry from these sets.

With two back sets, K-State continued to implement its heavy package with both Nemechek and Gronk in on 8  plays (12.5%). K-State’s most successful 2 back formation was a 3WR set with no TEs and the 2 back running game was considerably more successful than the passing game. Also of note for personnel, Hubert and Sams were only on the field together 5 times (4 on the last drive) or 19% of the snaps Sams was in the game.

Play Calls

Following a week that saw K-State call run plays 70% of the time, the balance nearly flipped this week with run calls on 40.6% of the play calls. This week the running game was far more successful with Sams on the field as run plays gained 91 yards on 17 carries (5.4 YPC) compared to only 22 yards on 9 calls (2.4 YPC) when Waters played. Sams feature play was (once again) QB lead/power for a season high 57.7% of his play calls. Power/lead was the only really effective running play on the afternoon as read option only averaged 2.7 yards on 6 snaps.

Waters had one of his poorest completion days of the season at only 41.7%, but the two big pass plays contributed to a solid yards per attempt of 9.8 to go with 2 touchdowns. He also had the longest run of the day for K-State with a 19 yard scramble on a pass play call. Waters also had two big throws on K-State’s drive for the winning FG; a 28 yarder to Sexton and 12 yarder to Lockett.

Conclusion

The QB balance was more even this week with a 60-40 split for Waters. For the first time in a while, K-State’s coaches seemed to struggle finding a rhythm with the use of the QBs for large stretches of the game, though part of that was facing one of the Big 12’s best defenses. Also, K-State’s offense created more problems of their own than they have in several weeks, namely some key dropped passes and holding penalties. However, after losing leads in 3 games in the 4th quarter this season, K-State finally found a way to step up and make the necessary plays to win one against TCU.

And for the first time in 33 years it was the leg of the kicker that led to the game winning points, but this time in a much more memorable season.

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_FANalysis: Lubbock in the Rearview Mirror

“I mean, like I said, this one more than the others, we knew what they were going to do, and they came right at us and we couldn’t stop them and we didn’t have answers.  We have to evaluate personnel, evaluate scheme, and try to finish off the season on the right foot.” - dreamy first year Tech Coach Kliff Kingsbury

After what seemed like years  of struggles against Texas Tech, the post Leach era has been much kinder and lately Cat fans have been able to sing Mac Davis’ 1980 country hit and mean it. This week’s scheme was fairly simple and this week’s blog will point out that K-State found a fairly common formation that gave Tech’s defense all kinds of fits and led to multiple big plays, especially in the running game.

Personnel Breakdown

As _FANalysis has shown the last several seasons, Bill Snyder is known for his wide use of formations and personnel groups. While still using a variety in Lubbock, Snyder and his staff found a particular formation that Tech struggled the entire game to stop, starting with Hubert’s early 63 yard run.

The formation K-State used most in the game features 3 WRs, 1 TE, and 1 RB with 2 WRs split to one side of the formation and a TE with a split WR to the opposite. The QB aligns in the shotgun with the RB beside or in a pistol set. The Cats used this formation 23 times (42%) and gained 209 yards (9.1 yards per play). If you watch Hubert’s big run on K-State’s 2nd play, you can see that K-State simply has a numbers advantage to the short side of the field, especially with the counter trey run scheme (see this post from last year vs Tech, #3) which pulls the 2 uncovered offensive linemen to the play side. As discussed in last year’s post, it has the look of read option, but is really a power running play.

19 of the 23 plays from this formation were runs (3 were the run/pass option with a seam route) and those runs gained 173 yards (9.1 yards per carry). While K-State mixed in a lot of other different formations during the game, Snyder/Dimel/Miller consistently came back to this formation and it was used in every meaningful drive against Tech. K-State also mixed in some 4 wide formations (instead of 5 WRs, both of K-State’s play from empty formations included Hubert split out) and a mix of 2 back formations, mainly in short yardage situations.  Twice K-State used 2 TE sets with Nemecheck, Gronk, and Sams in shotgun on 3rd and short. Both times Sams picked up 1st downs. Nemecheck and Gronk were also used together with Sams in a couple 2 WR/1 TE formations.

Play Calls

After Tech’s defense was destroyed in previous weeks by opponents running the ball, it was nice to see Snyder not over-think the game plan and come out trying to throw. Instead K-State focused on the run more than any other game this year (Baylor was 65% run by comparison) and had a lot of success. K-State mixed in the usual read option and lead/power running game, but the last few games have also featured several 1 back inside zone runs where Hubert is a single back and runs the ball without a lead blocker or pulling offensive lineman. Essentially he finds the gap in the defense on his own.

When Sams was in the game, he was used a lot in Snyder’s single wing quarterback running game running behind fullbacks and pulling linemen. The biggest change this week was going away from the delay/counter action that had so much success against Baylor, but was often blown up against WVU and ISU. Instead, Sams was attacking and hitting the hole much quicker (like the example above) and as a result he was much more successful on his runs.

The passing game against Tech was very limited, with only 11 pass attempts and 16 total pass plays called. 5 of the pass plays called were run/pass options and 3 of those turned into runs that gained 31 yards. While the passing game didn’t have the big down field throws that we’ve seen in other games, 5 of the 7 completions covered at least 10 yards with Waters’ TD throw to Thompson the longest at 20 yards.

Finally, this week the Waters/Sams play calls got bit out of balance, though 4 of the 5 touchdown drives in the first half saw both quarterbacks. Plus, the only offensive touchdown drive of the 2nd half was led entirely by Sams. The 2nd half was largely unsuccessful for Waters, but the play calling also got out of rhythm and the Cats were protecting a 3 score lead after halftime.

Conclusion

Continuing the offensive improvement of the season, the Tech game was the most successful first half game plan and payed big dividends in a blowout road win. The ability of both quarterbacks to a) limit turnovers and mistakes while b) accepting and thriving in a system that plays both of them is a credit to both Sams and Waters as well as the coaching staff. I never imagined this system working as well as it is right now. I’m sure we’ll see games the rest of the way where Sams ends up with more snaps than Waters and likely by the end of the season their snaps in Big 12 play will end up even. With continued solid play by the defense and improving offense, this team looks to be on pace to finish the season better than any K-State fan could have imagined following the disappointing loss to NDSU.

Row the boat, saw the wood, and (eventually) win football games.

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_FANalysis: K-State QBs Through 5 Big 12 Games

The quarterback issue at K-State has had plenty of discussion this season, and for good reason. A frustrating loss to begin the year which featured limited play from Daniel Sams only got things started. Then the infamous Waters’ butt fumble in Austin, followed by close losses to OSU and Baylor where Sams played a lot, and finally a couple league wins with nearly equal play from both quarterbacks. In spite of those wins, the Cats sit at just over the halfway point of Big 12 play and the quarterback situation has seemingly only become more muddied. Sams and Waters have both had their fair share of opportunities and through 5 conference games their snaps are nearly identical; 168 for Waters and 165 for Sams. This breakdown will look at how each has been used in conference games, give a glimpse of what appears to be their strengths and weaknesses, as well as what each has produced on a drive by drive basis.

Daniel Sams in Big 12 Games

Not surprisingly, when Sams is in the game, K-State is a run first team with the bulk of his snaps (over 40%) coming on some form of QB lead/power. In Sams’ best running game of his career against Baylor, 20 of his carries were on QB lead/power plays gaining 125 yards for nearly 6.3 yards per. However, he ran the same play type 11 times against WVU for only 8 yards, so he can bottled up. Sams has shown the ability to be effective in the option running game as well, with option runs (including Hubert/Rose) gaining 5.6 yards per carry.

Sams has also shown to be a more than adequate passer, completing 75.6% of his passes at over 8.4 yards per attempt and 4 touchdowns. Sams also has 4 interceptions on his 45 attempts. The biggest plays in the passing game have come from play action, namely a 67 yard touchdown throw to Gronkowski on Snyder’s new favorite play, the run/pass option seam route. Sams has also been excellent in avoiding sacks, plus has picked up an additional 70 yards rushing on scrambles and keeping the ball when the receiver is covered on the run/pass option seam route.

Finally Sams has been solid in generating big plays with over 1 out of every 5 plays at quarterback gaining at least 10 yards.

 

 

 

Jake Waters in Big 12 Games

Its also no surprise that the Waters ‘play calls have featured the passing game and nearly 40% of Waters’ snaps have been drop back pass attempts. However, he’s been solid in the running game with a near equal mix of option and power/lead running plays. His least effective play has been speed option, much of that coming against Texas when K-State ran it 7 times with Waters in the game for a total of -2 yards and a turnover. Waters has been effective in the QB power/lead running game, but has 50 fewer carries on those play calls compared to Sams. K-State has more power/lead runs with Hubert when Waters is in at quarterback compared with Sams, and while not quite as efficient, those plays have still gained a respectable 5.5 yards per carry.

Waters has been an effective passer in Big 12 games, completing 60% of his throws for 9.3 yards per attempt. However, his only 3 touchdowns came against WVU. While he has avoided the interception problems he faced early in the year, his passing game isn’t generating a lot of touchdowns. Also, Waters has been much more prone to sacks when compared to Sams.

One of Waters’ biggest strengths has been generating big plays in the passing game. His 39 plays of 10+ yards is similar to what Sams has produced, but 10% of his plays have covered at least 20 yards and 5% at least 30.

 

 

 

Drive Chart

Another effective way to compare the play of the quarterbacks is to compare not just play by play, but what each has produced on a drive by drive basis. This was somewhat difficult to assess as Snyder often rotates them in the midst of a single drive. To keep things somewhat simple, I gave each quarterback credit for a drive in the chart when they played 2/3 of more of the snaps, but there were also 4 drives where they nearly played equally. Sams had 19 total drives in which he was the only quarterback who played while Waters had 24.

While Sams led drives have been more prone to turnovers (to be fair, not all the fumbles were lost by Sams), Waters has definitely been more prone to have drives end in punts, especially the dreaded 3 and out drives. Sams hasn’t had one 3 and out in Big 12 play. Sams has also been more effective in finishing drives with points; scoring 10 touchdowns compared to 6 for Waters. Also, Sams has led more lengthy drives, with 10 of his drives covering at least 8 plays, compared to 5 for Waters. Probably more by coincidence than anything, 3 of 4 drives where the two quarterbacks played nearly equal snaps resulted in touchdowns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusions

Any set of statistics can be made to say whatever the interpreter wants to be said; the attempt here has been to present the numbers in an organized way with a few observations. Overall, each quarterback has had really effective stretches, but also plenty of mistakes. My conclusion (to this point) is that neither quarterback has done enough to win the job outright, even though I think the team will eventually be better off if one can do just that. Sams probably has the slight advantage through 5 games and I think the drive charts show that. However, I think he’s made enough mistakes combined with good play from Waters for the quarterback situation to continue to be unsettled. The key for the rest of the season starts with minimizing turnovers and if each quarterback can do that to an adequate level this team will likely be bowl eligible. Then, if each (or one) quarterback can go beyond that and improve efficiency in scoring, this season could see one of the best turnarounds by a K-State team ever.

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_FANalysis: Stillwater Change

I decided to be ready for whatever comes and a lot of playing time came today. It felt good to do it, but we came out with three interceptions so you can’t beat anybody doing that. - K-State quarterback Daniel Sams

K-State’s trip to Stillwater featured a significant change on offense with Daniel Sams receiving 86% of the snaps at quarterback. Many fans had been clamoring for the change and a lot of good things came as a result, namely K-State controlling the football for over 35 minutes. However, the turnover problems that have contributed significantly to K-State’s 2-3 start showed up again as OSU won the turnover battle 5 to 1. The Wildcats also committed 12 penalties for 92 yards (2nd worst since Snyder’s return) and largely due to Lockett and Thompson missing most of the game, averaged only 13.14 yards per kickoff return after averaging 23.8 coming into the game. K-State’s defense played well for most of the game, helping to overcome three 2nd half turnovers by forcing 3 field goals, but also gave up a 6 play, 75 yard touchdown drive that covered less than 2 minutes following Sams’ touchdown run to take the lead with just over 6 minutes remaining.

Personnel

The Wildcats were without Tramaine Thompson and lost Tyler Lockett to a hamstring injury early in the 2nd quarter, but even without their best 2 receivers, K-State still spread the field with 4 or 5 receivers on over 40% of the snaps against OSU. Curry Sexton, Torell Miller, and Kyle Klein all stepped up, combining for 13 catches and 134 yards. K-State used empty formations on nearly 20% of the snaps in Stillwater with modest results, but a nice variety of 1 back sets produced an impressive 6.1 yards per snap. Those 1 back formations provided nice balance between the run (4.4 yards per play on 25% of the total snaps) and the pass (7.6 yards per play on 30% of the total snaps). Once again, 2 back sets weren’t used much, and were mostly unsuccessful against OSU, only gaining 2.5 yards per snap on the afternoon (to be fair, 2 of the 2 back formation snaps were taking a knee before halftime). Waters’ limited snaps matched the percentages for the game, though 2 of those also included Sams on the field; once in shotgun as the running back, and once under center as the tailback. Those 2 plays only gained 1 yard, a short Sams run.

K-State’s mix of formations changed quite a bit as the game went along as well. For example, K-State used 1 back, 2 tight end, 2 receiver formations on 8 of 11 snaps on their final touchdown drive of the afternoon that ended with a Sams touchdown run in the 4th quarter. They had only used that formation on 2 previous plays, but they found success (much of it on QB power/lead) and stuck with it. It is clear that the preference with Sams in the game is to spread the field and create more vertical creases in the defense. Saturday brought mixed results, but if Snyder chooses to stay with Sams as his main quarterback, I would expect that trend to remain for the rest of the season.

Play Calls

Perhaps the biggest surprise from Saturday’s game came in play selection, as K-State used called pass plays on over half the possessions. To be fair, 9 of those snaps were from a new wrinkle that we’ve seen from K-State occasionally the last few years, a lead/run look with a seam route option (more coming this week in _FANframes). These plays had only been used a handful of times before Saturday, and its clear the coaching staff really likes these with Sams in the game because of the defensive tendency to put numbers in the box. 4 of those plays became Sams runs, but 5 were throws, including the big touchdown to Gronkowski. Sams really seems comfortable with these routes which feature one quick seam route, usually from the tight end or full back, but allow for a quick read and run option if the receiver is covered.

Snyder/Dimel/Miller still called a significant amount of drop back or quick passes with 29 calls resulting in 24 throws and 5 scrambles/sacks. This was the call on the majority of Waters’ snaps; on 7 pass calls he went 3 for 6 for only 11 yards and had the sack when he also fumbled. Sams had 22 drop back pass calls; he went 12-18 for 111 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions plus 3 scrambles for 14 yards and a -11 yard sack on a broken pass protection.

The running game was heavy with Sams running variations of QB leads and power plays, averaging 4.3 yards on 16 carries. 11 of those came from 1 back formations with Gronkowski leading and 5 from 2 back sets with both backs leading. Sams also carried the ball on a power play as the running back with Waters at quarterback in a 1 back formation. The majority of the carries for Hubert came on zone reads, gaining 4.8 yards per carry but only on 5 plays. K-State used 30 called running plays to gain 144 yards, a solid 4.8 yards per rush.

Conclusion

The switch to Sams brought some nice things to this offense, namely the ability to control clock and consistently run the football. Sams also showed that he can be very effective throwing the ball, especially on short and intermediate routes. His deep balls were not very good, though not having Lockett for 2/3 of the game didn’t help him. He took responsibility for the 3 interceptions as he should, but overall its hard not to come away from the game feeling positive about the offense if Sams gets the majority of the snaps the rest of this season (and his career). Similar to other young quarterbacks like Beasley and Roberson in Snyder’s system, Sams will have struggles, but the upside he brings is hard not to see and something this staff should use to K-State’s advantage.

_FANframes: Locked In

I just had to focus on getting open. It was little things. Jake was throwing me the ball. I had to make the most out of every opportunity. That’s what I did. – Tyler Lockett

237 Yards. 19 Targets. 18.2 yards per catch. 13 Receptions. 9 Formations. 6 Texas defensive backs. 1 Penalty drawn. 1 K-State game receiving record.

Unfortunately, Lockett’s record setting day wasn’t enough. Mistakes and penalties caused K-State’s offense to sputter in the first quarter when Lockett only had 2 catches for 16 yards. By the time the offense really got going K-State was already in a 17-0 hole. Lockett had 5 catches for 101 yards in the 2nd quarter, 2 of those for 69 yards on K-State’s first touchdown drive. In the 3rd quarter Lockett finished with only 3 catches for 24 yards and one drop. For the fourth quarter Lockett had 3 catches for 96 yards, but the Wildcats wasted his 52 yarder late in the 4th quarter when Waters later fumbled inside the 5.

This week’s _FANframes will break down the multiple ways K-State found to get Lockett open during the course of the game. Texas played a mix of man and zone defense, and throughout the game Lockett was matched up with at least 5 different defenders and no one covered Lockett well. Of the 5 incomplete throws, only 1 wasn’t close to being caught. That throw was the only miscommunication between Lockett and Waters on the day; Waters threw a backshoulder ball (which was the correct throw based on the coverage), but Lockett reacted late and couldn’t make the catch. One incompletion was a clear drop, one was high (but went off of Lockett’s hands), one was knocked down at the line of scrimmage, and one was on what looked like pass interference on the Texas defender that was not called.

Outside Receiver in Twins, Quick Screen

The opening play of the game (click for video link) was a play that K-State has used periodically over the past several seasons, a quick screen to the twin receiver side of the formation off of run action. Texas only had 1 defensive back directly over the two receivers with the safety 10 yards off the line of scrimmage. A quick throw to Lockett and solid block from Thompson started the game with a 9 yard gain.

Single Receiver Opposite of Tight End Trips, Out/Dig/Skinny Route

One aspect that has always been a staple of K-State’s passing game is the use of “read” routes. These routes rely on the receiver and quarterback being on the same page, and both reading the defense/coverage and adjusting their routes/throws accordingly. The clip above is one of 7 versions of this formation/route combination that K-State ran during the game. As Lockett began his route, the corner’s hips turned inside (cover 3 zone), so the route was curled outside at the first down marker. In addition to turning the corner, sitting outside gave Waters the window to throw the ball outside of the safety who dropped late into the flat trying to get underneath Lockett’s route.

Here is the 2nd example of the same route concept. The Texas defender is able to get the ball knocked down (even though Lockett was open) because a) Rooks whiffed on his cut block and then b) Hubert tried to take on the defensive end high instead of attempting to cut a 2nd time (which would also bring the defenders hands down).

Another version with an outside route, but Lockett catches the ball short of the first down.

Later in the 2nd quarter, K-State made an adjustment and swung Hubert out to the flat (again, same formation). This allowed an easy read for Waters to see man coverage, and Lockett made an adjustment by running a inside/dig route at the first down marker. Because the coverage was man, Texas didn’t have the defender underneath to help with Lockett’s route which made the inside/dig cut available.

On K-State’s first scoring drive, the same dig route defeats man coverage with a blitz. This time Texas tried press man, and Lockett still made the defender look silly.

Early in the 2nd half K-State used motion to isolate Lockett opposite a tight end trips formation, but this time Lockett had his only clear drop of the game.

The final example of using Lockett in this alignment resulted in a failed attempt at a back shoulder throw. Texas was in man coverage, but Waters and Lockett weren’t on the same page with the route. While throwing the fade (what Lockett appeared to be running) wouldn’t have been a bad option, Lockett also had the defender clearly beat with a good back shoulder cut. Its also possible that Waters made the throw a little too quickly, before Lockett got his head around on the fade, which made it too difficult to change his route.

Outside Receiver in Tight End Trips, Vertical Route

While this example wasn’t from K-State’s typical tight end trips alignment, its still essentially the same formation, the tight end was just lined up in the backfield instead of on the line of scrimmage. K-State ran 3 verticals, Waters did a great job looking at Sexton to pull the free safety, and then made a great throw to Lockett.

Slot Receiver in Tight End Trips, Vertical Route

Lockett’s final two catches of the game came from the slot receiver spot in the tight end trips formation. This time the outside receiver ran a short underneath route, and both times Lockett was able to get open on the fade. The first time Lockett made a great catch and nearly scored. Lockett’s last catch appeared to give K-State a chance to cut the Texas lead to 3, but Waters fumbled a couple plays later.

Outside Receiver in Tight End Doubles, Rub Route

Another favorite formation for K-State is basically doubles, but with a tight end and receiver to one side and twin receivers opposite. The next two examples used Lockett in the outside spot and Thompson inside. In the second half Lockett gained 13 yards and gained a first down. Thompson wnet first on the quick out and Lockett went underneath on a slant using Thompson as a pick to get open. On this play Texas was in a zone coverage though, the linebacker was just late getting out to Lockett. In the first half K-State ran the same concept, but against man coverage. The defender definitely contacted Lockett on the route, but no call was made.

Slot Receiver in Tight End Doubles, Slant Route

In the 4th quarter, K-State twice went to a formation/route combination that they’ve used with Lockett near the goalline in the past. This time Lockett lines up as the slot receiver in tight end doubles and runs a slant near the endzone. The first time Lockett was grabbed and pass interference was called, but the next play Waters fumbled. On K-State’s final desperation drive, the same route was called, but a high throw went off of Lockett’s hands.

Slot Receiver in Doubles, Out Route

K-State attacked the outside with Lockett a lot, and the next two catches were quick throws to the sideline. This example is a 4 receiver doubles formation and a quick out route underneath from the slot underneath a fade from the outside receiver.

Split in Diamond, Quick Curl

This example was one of two pass plays from K-State’s Diamond formation. Here they’ve already shifted; Nemechek is up near the tight end spot on the right, Hubert is on the left, and Gronkowski on Waters’ right. This is the same formation that Hubert scored on in the first half with stretch read. Lockett made a catch on a quick curl route here.

Outside Receiver in Trips, Deep Curl Route with Bubble/Slant

K-State only ran a handful of plays out of trips formations, this example shows a 4 receiver version of trips with a single receiver to the top. The two inside receivers in trips ran a slant/bubble combination which helped widen the zone for Lockett to sit down at the first down marker.

Outside Receiver in Trips, Curl Route

The final variation from the Texas game was again from a Trips formation, this time with a tight end to the top of the formation. Here the inside receiver presses vertical while Thompson and Lockett both sit on quick curls.

This game showed that there is a chemistry between Waters and Lockett and that K-State has a pretty diverse package in place to get them connected. However, the Wildcats still lost the game, finished -3 in turnovers, and only managed 3 scores, so there is a lot of work to do if Waters is going to be the main option at quarterback. Snyder still contends that this will be a 2 quarterback system, so we’ll have to see how the situation evolves. Overall, (assuming Waters remains the quarterback) this game could be a step forward if the offense continues evolve, but the efficiency of the offense must improve for this team to salvage something from a terrible beginning to the season.

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_FANalysis: Passed Up in Austin

We’ve got to do a better job. We didn’t coach this game very well. We need to do a better job being able to utilize both of them because they’re both going to play. It’s that simple, but we’ve got to do a better job utilizing them to their full capacity. - Bill Snyder

K-State’s first Big 12 contest saw more of the same struggles that have plagued this team all year; namely a -3 turnover differential leading to inefficiency on offense (.33 points per play) combined with an inability to get Texas offense off the field (UT converted 9 of 18 third downs and ran for 4.8 YPC). As a result, the Wildcats fell to .500 on the season and 0-1 to start Big 12 play. Snyder used a split quarterback rotation through K-State’s first 4 drives, but those 23 plays made just 101 yards and resulted in 4 Mark Krause punts. 10 plays for Sams resulted in 55 yards and 13 plays for Waters gained 46. Three of those drives were put into holes by penalties and by the time 4 minutes were left in the 1st half the Wildcats were behind 17-0. After that K-State turned the game over to Waters and Lockett and the passing game, and the offense scored touchdowns on 3 of the next 5 drives. However, 3 second half turnovers doomed the Wildcats despite Lockett setting the K-State single game receiving record. The most crucial turnover occurred with the Wildcats on the verge of cutting into Texas’ 10 point lead with just over 2 minutes remaining. On a designed quarterback run, Waters ran into his own lineman and committed a silly fumble inside the Texas 10 yard line ending any chance for a K-State comeback win.

Once again the play (or lack of playing) from the quarterback position was in the spotlight from the K-State fanbase. Sams’ 10 plays only included 1 pass play, and that was the quick play action to the McDonald down the seem that we’ve seen Sams run before this season. The problem wasn’t that Texas read it and was able to cover McDonald, but that Texas’ defensive tackle got penetration at the line of scrimmage which didn’t allow Sams any time to make the read and throw. Otherwise K-State’s running game with Sams was a nice mix of zone read, leads and power leads, and a counter trey power from a nice variety of formations. Also called was a speed option that was stopped by a penalty. Overall Sams played fine in his handful of snaps, although he made at least one error in zone read when he should have kept the ball. Also, there was a power read (called from a sideline check) in which either Sams or his backfield made a mistake as Sams ended up reading the wrong end of the line of scrimmage and a give to Hubert was stopped for a short gain.

Meanwhile, Waters dropped back to throw on 58% of his snaps and had a very good night passing the football. He completed 63% of his passes and averaged a very good 9.2 yards per attempt, however only one throw threatened the endzone; a great reception by Lockett a yard short in the 4th quarter. (Although Lockett did have a high throw go off his hands late in the 4th quarter) K-State used Waters in the quarterback run game, running 8 quarterback lead/draws to gain 23 yards, including his nice 17 yard run in the 3rd quarter. However, the insistence on running speed option (which appeared to be a check most of the time) was the biggest question from this game. Waters and Hubert ran it 7 times for a total 0f -2 yards and a lost fumble by Hubert on a pitch. Speed option is simply a play that Waters doesn’t appear comfortable running as evidenced by him pitching too early multiple times, plus Hubert didn’t appear to have the speed to get the edge against the speed of Texas even if he had executed it better.The rest of Waters’ rushes came from sacks or scrambles when Texas was able to get pressure, mainly from their front 4.

Personnel/Formations

While K-State used 1 back formations a majority of the time, the Wildcats also used a new wrinkle against Texas that we haven’t seen in the last 2 seasons. The Wildcats used their own version of the diamond formation (Oklahoma State runs this quite a bit) with 3 backs and the quarterback in a shotgun alignment along with 2 split receivers. Flanking Waters on either side were Gronkowski and Nemechek with Hubert in the pistol and Thompson and Lockett at split receivers. K-State often shifted into a heavy alignment, with Nemechek essentially moving to tight end while Gronkowski and Hubert flanked Waters. Hubert’s two biggest runs came from this alignment on stretch/power read plays, but K-State only used it twice. The other run from this formation was a lead play with both fullbacks leading for Hubert. K-State used fewer 2 back sets than we’ve seen in any game the past two seasons and plays from these formations had very little success gaining only 20 yards on 9 snaps.

As for 1 back sets, 20 snaps came from tight end trips alignments and the majority of Lockett’s big catches in the passing game came from this formation, including his catches of 31, 47, and 52 yards.  Note all of the sacks came from 1 back sets and these numbers figured into the 1 back passing numbers.

As for Sams, K-State used a different formation on nearly every snap he was in the game, including 4 different variations of trips. 3 snaps from from 2 back sets, 4 from 1 back/3 receivers, 1 from 1 back 4 receivers and 1 from 1 back/2 receivers/2 tight ends.

Play Calls

The Wildcat offense made an attempt to be balanced in the running game between power/lead and option, but the ineffectiveness of speed option really took away from the gameplan. Every other facet of the running game was decent, granted the QB run game was bolstered by Sams’ 2 big runs. Also, Texas again struggled with versions of read option, but K-State only ran it 6 times. To be fair, Hubert’s 2 big runs on stretch/power read made up most of those yards while read option with Sams only gained 7 yards on 4 snaps.

The passing game went away from play action, but the drop back passing game really gave Texas problems. K-State moved Lockett around to multiple spots in formations, from both the slot and the outside, and Texas didn’t find a defender that could cover him one on one. Unfortunately it took until the last drive of the 1st half for K-State to really exploit these match-ups.

Conclusion

Snyder and his staff must find a way to increase the efficiency of this offense. If they are going to give Waters 80% (or more) of the snaps, then the turnover problems must be fixed, while finding ways to get Sams involved in other ways. While there was an appearance of diversifying the package for Sams, the lack of including any drop back passes or developing play action takes tremendous pressure off of the opposing defense. Sams’ ability to make plays with his speed and athleticism was still shown against Texas, but it has to be more than a handful of snaps.  I was impressed with many of the things that K-State did in the passing game, the ability to find ways to get Lockett open, and the ability of Waters to get him the ball. This offense has enough to win several more games (at least to bowl eligibility), but the issues at quarterback and offensive line must be corrected, along with calling plays that give the personnel on the field the best opportunity for success.

Unfortunately for K-State fans, we have to wait another week to see if this team can and will improve, and that contest is on the road against one of the best teams in this year’s Big 12.

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_FANalysis: Waiting on the Pine

You probably think this is going to be about who is (and isn’t) playing quarterback for K-State, and in part it is. But overall, this is about what K-State football has become, and the issues at the quarterback position are just a part of that. In reality the struggles we are seeing from K-State football under Bill Snyder this season are nothing new, but will there eventually be a repeat of the last 2 seasons  (or the 2002 and 03 seasons) and double digit wins with plenty of success, or is this really the end of an era (again)?

Most well informed K-State fans know that one of the (many) quirky things Bill Snyder is known for is his favorite movie; Disney’s 1940 rendition of Pinocchio. So much so that still shots from the movie adorn the walls of his office. I’d imagine that in many ways Snyder views his ability to build football teams with many parallels to Mister Geppetto’s ability to create puppets out of pine or oak. The question for the Wildcat fan becomes will this team eventually come to life like past seasons of K-State football under Snyder?

The 90s spoiled K-State fans in this regard; every season those football teams gained life and 9, 10, and 11 wins seasons piled up. For an 8 year stretch, K-State never lost more than 2 games in conference play and won 82% of their games overall. Initially, 2001 appeared to be a fluke; a young team with quarterback issues struggled to win games, but the following 2 seasons brought back success and K-State’s 2nd conference championship. Then things fell off again, but Snyder’s retirement cut short another attempt at rebuilding his program and an attempt to repeat the success from the 90s. After Snyder returned, the process began again and a team with a developing QB in 2010 eventually became a highly successful team in 2011 and 12. Now it appears K-State is in the midst of one of those developmental seasons once again. The same quarterback issues exist that have been present before, but maybe even more pronounced are the losses on defense from the last 2 seasons.

As these charts show, the trend over the last 10 seasons for Snyder is very mixed success. Snyder’s rebuilding seasons have avoided the terrible 1-2 win failures that other programs might go through, but they have still been ugly. Its fair to critique the process and question whether or not repeating success will happen again. There was certainly carryover from the the 90s Snyder teams to the 02 and 03 seasons, but 2001 still shared some of the rebuilding traits that we’ve seen in Snyder’s other mediocre seasons. And the seasons from 04 and 05 didn’t appear to have the same success in store, but Snyder’s 1st retirement cut the process short. However, he was able to pick it up upon his return, and after 2 seasons found high success again.

Regardless, the seasons in which Snyder’s teams have struggled have had similar traits; offensive struggles, holes on defense, and mistakes and errors that don’t seem to be typical of Snyder’s best teams. Those issues have been discussed plenty this season, and much of the criticism from fans is well deserved, but K-State fans have to decide if they are willing to be patient with another cycle of the process.

Unfortunately at this point in the process there are more questions than answers. Will Sams be another duel threat like Roberson or Klein that Snyder will build a successful team behind? Will Snyder and his staff choose to go a different direction with Waters? Can that work? Can the holes in the defense be fixed by developing younger players and bringing in more talent from junior college or high impact transfers? Does Snyder have the time, ability, or coaching staff to repeat the process one more time?

_FANalysis: ReDunn or Samsing New?

The bottom line of it is Jake is a good, young quarterback, and Daniel is a good quarterback. You’ve got two guys that deserve and need to be on the field and we need to continue to find and cultivate ways to utilize both of them. I think it’s to our advantage to be able to do so as long as we do it the right way. That’s not the easiest task, but both of them are good enough to be on the field.

– Bill Snyder

So far the 2013 season has left K-State fans thinking they are seeing something that has happened before. A JUCO quarterback known for his arm comes in and displaces the young, dynamic run-first quarterback that has already been in the Snyder system. Granted, some of Waters’ early numbers are much better (70+% completions/9+ YPA compared to <50%/<6 YPA for Dunn), but the subpar TD to INT ratio (1:2) stands out. Plus the numbers show that good things happen more (like scoring) when Sams comes on the field (more on that later). Snyder insists that this is a different set of quarterbacks and that the plan and desire has always been to use both, but that won’t dispel a good fan generated controversy. The fact that Sams came in with just under 11 minutes left and led a fairly easy 6 play drive for K-State’s final score after a very sub par 3rd quarter didn’t do Snyder’s desire for no controversy any favors.

Personnel

In the K-State’s game against Louisiana the Wildcats used a lot of one back sets and specifically attacked with 3 WRs to one side of the Cajun defense. K-State specifically used 13 trips formations (either with 1 TE and 2 WRs or 3 WRS) to do so, but also used Hubert out of the backfield to 2 WR sides of formations. Mixed in was quite a bit of power running game.

1 back formations proved to be effective the entire game, averaging 7.5 yards per play and no 1 back set averaged less than 4.6 yards per play. The running game was most effective from 1 back sets at 5.8 yards per rush and not surprisingly all of Sams’ runs came from 1 back formations.

Not surprisingly, the the most dramatic difference came in the 2 back running game compared to 2 back passing game. Granted, a heavy used of 2 RB/2 TE formations (used 13 times) contributed because that usually means short yardage plays, but 2.5 yards per carry on 20 runs is still very poor output. Also, Robert Rose ran for 18 yards out of 2 back sets on K-State’s last 4 plays while running out the clock.

 

Play Calls

K-State did get back to a much more balanced approach between run and pass, and the running game was much more successful than last week’s poor performance. However, I don’t think anyone would claim that Louisiana’s defense is on par with NDSU’s, and neither is on par with the best defense’s K-State will see in the Big 12.

K-State relied heavily on the power/lead running game again and had much more success, but much of that is because of the success Sams had running the football. 2 back power/lead only averaged 3.2 yards per carry. The Cats used a bit more option; Hubert had a nice run to begin the game on zone read and scored on a speed option pitch, but other than that option football wasn’t very successful.

In the passing game play action was most effective, but Waters did a nice job in the drop back passing game as well. However, he seemed to get out of rhythm to start the 2nd half and the offense was largely ineffective until Sams 4th quarter scoring drive.

 

QB Production

That leads us to this week’s final breakdown; quarterback production. A play per play chart for the season favors Sams (7.9 yards per play on 15 plays to 6.1 yards per play on 109), but this chart breaks down even more simply to drives with Waters only and drives where Sams was mixed in (some of those are only 1 to 2 plays). Still, the production value thus far this season when Sams enters is clear; K-State has scored 3 touchdowns on 7 drives that involve Sams (with no turnovers and one drive to run out the clock) while 16 drives with Waters only at QB have led to 3 touchdowns, 2 field goals, and 4 turnovers. PPD in the chart is points per drive and the production is more than double when Sams is involved. Meanwhile PPP (points per play) on drives when Sams is used is .52 compared to .39 without. Rushing in drives with or without Sams are nearly identical, but just the 13 snaps this season that Sams was on the field for rushes are nearly twice as effective as without him.

Conclusion

Many will argue that the sample size is simply too small, and there is probably some truth to that. However, when one of the games resulted in one of Snyder’s most embarrassing losses as a head coach, that doesn’t matter much. The production value is evident and if Snyder insists on using a 2 quarterback system as his quotes suggest, then its clear that he and his staff must find a way to get Sams involved more than 1 out of every 5 plays (vs Louisiana) and definitely more than 1 out of nearly every 10 for both games combined.

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_FANalysis: Bohled Over

I think all the FCS head coaches and programs, we believe we play real quality football. And there’s somewhat of a movement or thought that college football needs to be more exclusive, with these hard-line divisions. We as FCS coaches, we don’t necessarily think that’s good for college football. - NDSU Coach Craig Bohl

Its been nearly 11 years since Craig Bohl made a trip to Manhattan, KS. That mid-November day in 2002, Bohl’s Cornhusker defense gave up 415 yards rushing and over 7 yards per carry. Ell Roberson rushed for a K-State quarterback record of 228 yards highlighted by a 91 yard touchdown run.

This year’s Wildcats, the defending Big 12 champions, didn’t even run for half of the yardage Roberson gained on that single carry this time against Bohl’s team.

Bohl landed at North Dakota State after being fired from Frank Solich’s sinking ship at Nebraska and now he coaches the best FCS program in the country, but no Wildcat fan feared his experienced Bizon bunch. However, NDSU dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage and came away with a last minute victory that soured the opening of K-State’s new West Stadium Center. K-State fans were left wondering “what went wrong?” In the days following the loss, the explanations for what happened last Friday night have been plentiful. This post won’t address all of them, but it will look at some of the trends that show up when looking at the use of personnel and play calling on offense.

Losing Snyder’s Staples

One of the staples of Kansas State’s terrific 2012 season was mistake free football; featuring great special teams, very few turnovers and penalties, and winning time of possession. Last year K-State controlled the ball for over 32 minutes per game. When combined with dynamic play on special teams and lack of turnovers, the Wildcats’ gained huge advantages over opponents. Friday night NDSU completely dominated TOP, holding on the ball for an incredible 36 minutes and running 73 offensive plays to only 52 for K-State. Turnovers essentially finished even (2-1 to NDSU with Waters’ late desperation INT) and penalties weren’t a huge problem for either team (NDSU 1 for 5 yards, KSU 2 for 10). NDSU’s outmatched K-State in converting 3rd downs (NDSU 10 of 17, KSU 2 of 10) with 4 on their final game winning drive. Finally, the game featured only 1 big play on special teams, and that was NDSU’s punt return to set up their first score.

Personnel

(Reminder; these numbers are based on play calls and not simply passes/rushes from the box score. For example, Waters’ longest run of 11 yards came on a scramble on a pass play, so that play is included passing plays in this breakdown, as are sacks.)

The variations were very balanced, and K-State primarily used the same 2 personnel groups as last year. (See last week’s _FANalysis) However, in this game Snyder and his staff relied much more on 2 back sets than last year, specifically 2 back sets with 2 receivers. One positive was that 2 back/2 receiver formations were pretty successful overall; gaining 149 yards on 19 plays for 7.8 yards per snap. However, the running game with 2 back sets was awful, gaining only 26 yards on 11 runs, good for 2.4 yards per carry. By comparison, the running game out of 1 back sets was slightly better; gaining 22 yards, but only on 6 carries (3.7 per). In the passing game, 1 back formations gained 135 yards on 18 snaps (7.5 yards per). One conclusion from this is pretty simple (as well as from watching the video); against 2 back sets NDSU loaded the box and brought pressure. If you watch the safeties, one or both was very quick on run reads, stacking in the box as soon as he saw run. Plus, in passing situations NDSU consistently brought 1 or 2 extra defenders on blitzes. Combined with inconsistent play from the offensive line (more on that later) that led to a disastrous game running the football, which contributed to K-State’s inability to control the clock and sustain drives.

Another conclusion was that K-State simply didn’t use formations to take advantage of match-ups. NDSU had pretty solid corners, but in twin receiver situations the Cats always had a distinct advantage in the match-up on the inside receiver, whether NDSU was in man or zone. On the 6 snaps that K-State ran doubles formation with 1 back and 4 receivers, K-State gained 72 yards (12 yards per snap). However, all were pass plays and K-State made no attempt to run the ball out of that formation. K-State simply seemed to refuse to use a formation that gave them better athletic match-ups in space and one that negated NDSU”s ability to bring pressure. Plus the large use of 2 back sets played right into NDSU’s aggressive defense,  especially when combined with the poor blocking for much of the game.

Play Calls

While the balance of run/pass calls was heavily influenced by K-State’s inability to run the ball, completely flipping the run/pass ratio from last season was a surprise. Even in the early 90s when K-State was successful but but before Snyder’s infusion of the QB run game, K-State still ran the ball nearly 60% of the time. It was anticipated that Waters would throw more than Klein, but 2/3 of the play calls wasn’t expected. Again, that largely came from the fact that K-State simply couldn’t run the ball; only 2 called running plays on the night gained more than 5 yards. A big contributor to K-State’s lack of running game was the fact that NDSU set the tone in the first half in stopping the run. On K-State’s first 4 run calls of the game, 2 K-State blockers on each play completely missed their blocks. The problem was it wasn’t just one position with mistakes; offensive linemen, tight ends, and receivers all contributed. Hubert simply had no chance and as a result gained 2 yards on those 4 snaps. Then on 2 of K-State’s next 3 running plays, NDSU used perfect run blitzes. By the midpoint of the 2nd quarter, K-State’s 7 run calls had netted only 10 yards, and the tone for the night was set. The next 5 runs were K-State’s most successful, gaining 37 yards, however 2 of those were 17 yard runs (each) from Hubert and Sams. K-State had only 2 more drives (not counting Waters last desperation INT) and one featured no run calls. The last one, while nursing a 4 point lead, had 4 run calls that gained no yards. When the game was on the line and the Cats had an opportunity to extend the lead, K-State simply couldn’t run the ball.

In the middle of the game, when Waters got some time, K-State was able to pass the ball well. K-State’s 2 quick scoring drives featured a few underneath route concepts and bubble screens that set up deep balls to Thompson and Lockett. After the NDSU INT, K-State was able to use some quick pass plays leading to Sams’ run for a score. The problems with the running game contributed to the final drive’s failure to score, but the other 2nd half drive that failed featured 4 straight passes. Besides the INT Waters’ threw in the 2nd quarter, this drive probably had his 2 worst throws of the game. Overall, Waters’ game throwing the ball was very good, but with the lack of a running game combined with a drive in a crucial situation where he missed some throws, it simply wasn’t enough to get it done.

Conclusion

With the inexperience K-State has on defense, the Wildcats simply cannot have games like last Friday’s on offense. The Waters/Sams debate will continue throughout the season, but regardless of who the quarterback is the offense has to get more consistent blocking and execution from all positions, especially early in the game. After watching four years featuring Daniel Thomas and Collin Klein, K-State fans are used to having an offense where the running game sets up the passing game. With Sams that would probably continue to be the case, but it appears in the near future Waters is going to be the starter and that philosophy on offense will have to be adjusted. Snyder stated that he expects to use more Sams this week, but regardless he and his staff will need to do a much better job of identifying the deficiencies on offense along with the match-up advantages, something they simply weren’t successful with against NDSU. Plenty of season still remains, and there is enough talent on this team to have a successful season, but the entire offense (coaches and players) are going to have to perform much better for that to happen and avoid a repeat of what we saw from Snyder teams in 04 and 05.

 

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