After a near disaster over the weekend, Bill Snyder and the Wildcats are facing a lot of questions heading into conference play, when they make the trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma on Oct. 3. The Cats won the game, but a three overtime thriller against a Louisiana Tech team that has one of the worst defenses in college football isn’t exactly a confidence booster.
I really don’t know where to begin to address my concerns with the Wildcats. The defense looked solid through the first two games, only giving up three points against South Dakota and UTSA combined. On Saturday, Snyder’s defense took a major step backward, allowing LA Tech to rack up more than 450 yards of offense. To be fair, Bulldog quarterback and former Florida Gator, Jeff Driskel, was impressive throughout and deserves a lot of credit for nearly upsetting the Cats in the Little Apple. Having faced many talented defenses of the SEC, Driskel made himself look like a Heisman candidate against the pitiful Wildcat defense. This was just a small task when compared to some of the high-powered offenses that await the Cats in the Big 12. The defense also saw plenty of action and had little time to rest because the Wildcat offense struggled to move the ball. Looking down the road, I have a great amount of confidence in the K-State defense for the remainder of the season. If defensive coordinator, Tom Hayes, along with coach Snyder can get the team to rally behind the bend but don’t break defensive philosophy which has historically served K-State rather well, they will find success defensively.
What concerns me the most is the lack of offense the Wildcats have shown this season. In today’s day and age, most offenses, especially in the Big 12, prefer to have a high powered passing attack. While newly appointed starter, Joe Hubener, has impressed at times with his ability to throw the deep ball, the run game has been nonexistent. I have always believed the Wildcats are at their best when they can establish a solid run game, and go on those long methodical drives that chew up the clock. The offensive line must improve to help build confidence for Charles Jones, and the young Justin Silmon who has shown some potential his first year wearing the purple and white. Time of possession has always been a strong suit for the Cats, and will be vital for their success in conference play.
Another thing that really has me bothered is penalties. Thus far, the Wildcats have committed 190 yards in penalties, while at this point last year, the team only had 92. Giving up free yards drives coaches crazy, and the success the program found in recent years largely came from producing well-disciplined teams. If there is one thing coach Snyder doesn’t tolerate, it’s penalties. I will be shocked if this problem isn’t addressed by the time the Wildcats get to Stillwater.
A bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for Cats, as they will have an extra week to address the issues that have plagued them so far. To compete with the best of the Big 12 this season, the Wildcats must establish a run game to control the clock, limit the stress on the defense and eliminate penalty yardage. I still have high hopes for K-State this season, but it could be a rocky road ahead if these problems continue. I sure hope last week wasn’t a preview of things to come.
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