K-State opened the 2022 football season with a 34-0 victory over South Dakota at Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan on Saturday night.
Although South Dakota was over-matched, I liked what I saw from the Wildcats. A 75-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Malik Knowles on the first play from scrimmage set the tone, and the K-State defense got its first shutout since 2019 against Bowling Green.
Here’s the good, and the bad, from the Wildcats’ victory on Saturday.
The first thing I noticed on the 75-yard touchdown run by Knowles was the block by Deuce Vaughn. If Vaughn did not make that spectacular block, Knowles would not have gone for a touchdown. It was a great play. Vaughn can do it all for this team. He ran the ball 18 times for 126 yards and a touchdown, an average of seven yards per carry. On his 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, Vaughn saw the hole open up, made one cut and a little juke, and took it to the house. It was a thing of beauty.
After a nasty face mask in the second quarter, Vaughn left the game, and backup running back DJ Giddens came into the game and performed admirably. Giddens finished the game with six carries for 57 yards, a 9.5 yards per carry average. I thought he ran the ball well and appears to be a solid backup to Deuce Vaughn.
Felix Anudike-Uzomah bull-rushed and overpowered the South Dakota left tackle on a sack of South Dakota quarterback Carson Camp early in the game. The play led South Dakota to punt, resulting in the blocked punt for a touchdown that put the Wildcats ahead 14-0. Felix is picking up right where he left off last season.
The K-State Defense
Congratulations to the Wildcat defense on the shutout. In the second quarter, South Dakota had a 4th and one near the K-State 20-yard line and decided to go for it, but the Wildcats stuffed the run at the line of scrimmage. South Dakota had some opportunities to score, but the K-State defense stepped up and stopped them every time.
Martinez did not put up any gaudy numbers in this one, but he did not have to. He was 11 of 15 passing for 53 yards, and his longest pass completion was for 10 yards. He also ran the ball 13 times for 39 yards and a touchdown. I thought he was mostly efficient in running the offense. He fumbled once on a sack by South Dakota as he was hit and blindsided by an unblocked defender. Most quarterbacks would have fumbled getting hit like that, so I do not fault him for it. He appeared to view the field well, found his open receivers, and successfully scrambled when he had to. I didn’t have any problems with his play.
Backup quarterback Jake Rubley came into the game in the fourth quarter to get some snaps and looked pretty decent in the limited time he was out there. He had a couple of really nice pass completions. We
did not see Will Howard play, so does this mean that Rubley is the number two quarterback? I think so, but stay tuned.
Kicker Chris Tennant missed the extra point attempt after Deuce Vaughn’s touchdown run and also missed a 43-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. Can’t afford to miss kicks like those against Missouri.
Green led with his helmet on at least one tackle that I saw. While he did not get a targeting call, it had the potential to be one. Green had a problem last season with targeting calls, and I did not like seeing him continuing to lead with his helmet on tackles. K-State cannot afford him getting a targeting call and missing playing time.
K-State lost its starting right guard for the remainder of the 2022 season after it was reported that Taylor Poitier tore his ACL on Saturday. Sophomore Hadley Panzer is expected to step into a starting role in Poitier’s absence.
This week’s game against Missouri should be fun to watch. Missouri has a lot of talent, starting with stud five-star freshman wide receiver Luther Burden. Missouri not only lines him up at receiver, but they will hand the ball off to him and run the Wildcat formation with him taking snaps. He is the real deal. We will see if the Wildcat defense can contain him.
K-State is currently a seven-and-a-half to eight-point favorite against Missouri, depending on which sportsbook you look at. At first, I thought that spread was a little high, but after thinking about it, a touchdown spread in this game seems about right. I am picking K-State to win around a score of 30-23.