It is funny how fans and head coaches sometimes dismiss or excuse problems with football teams early in the season. When K-State quarterback Adrian Martinez passed for 53 yards in the season opener against South Dakota, fans shrugged it off as, “they didn’t have to pass the ball in the game. Why give away your playbook to future opponents?” When Martinez threw for 101 yards against Missouri, head coach Chris Klieman pointed to the weather (rain) as the reason the passing game never got going. This past weekend there were no excuses, as Martinez passed for only 150 yards, with a long of 21 yards, in a 17-10 loss to Tulane. The Wildcats could never get anything going offensively in the game. In Klieman’s weekly press conference yesterday, he said he met with Martinez and told him to relax, not to worry about making mistakes, and try to get the ball downfield more. They will need to do that this weekend to have a chance against Oklahoma.
I have other concerns with the Wildcats, but the passing game has to be issue number one. Here are five things that concern me the most going into the game this weekend.
1.) The K-State passing game
Adrian Martinez has to show that he can move the offense through the air against Oklahoma. Oklahoma will score and K-State will have to try to keep pace with them. I am worried that if Martinez takes Klieman’s advice and is more aggressive in the passing game, does that result in a bunch of interceptions? If so, this game could get ugly.
2.) K-State’s rushing defense against Oklahoma’s rushing offense
Oklahoma has been running the ball very efficiently in its first three games. They have the 15th-best rushing offense in the country. K-State’s rush defense, on the other hand, is ranked 60th in the country right now. We only have a small sample size to analyze these numbers, but the numbers tell a story nonetheless. If K-State cannot handle Oklahoma’s running game, it will be a very long night for the Wildcats.
3.) K-State is a streaky team under Chris Klieman
Following K-State football in the Chris Klieman era has been a roller coaster ride. It seems like every time the fans get excited about where the team is headed there is a head-scratching loss, or losses, that follow.
In Klieman’s first year, 2019, the Wildcats won their first three games, then lost two games, then won three games, then lost two games, then won two games before finishing the season with a loss in the Liberty Bowl to Navy.
In 2020, after losing the first game to Arkansas State, the Wildcats won four in a row before losing their final five games.
In 2021, the Wildcats won their first three games, then lost three in a row, then won four in a row, then lost two in a row before beating LSU in the Texas Bowl.
The only time in Chris Klieman’s tenure that K-State did not follow up a loss with another loss was in 2020 when they opened the season with a loss to Arkansas State. The opponent in the game after that? Oklahoma, whom they beat 38 to 35. A good omen? Perhaps.
4.) K-State’s offensive line
The Wildcat offensive line did not get much of a push against Tulane on Saturday. K-State was awful in third and fourth down situations, going two of fifteen on third downs and one of five on fourth downs. Many of those downs were short-yardage run plays that were stuffed by the Tulane defense. K-State will have to figure something out against Oklahoma. If they can’t, they will not have a chance to win the game.
5.) Oklahoma has blown out everyone they have played
Oklahoma is 3-0 on the year. They beat UTEP 45-13 in week one, Kent State 33-3 in week two, and Nebraska 49-14 in week three. Granted, UTEP and Kent State are not great, and Nebraska is a trainwreck right now, but the Sooners looked like quite the juggernaut. On the other hand, perhaps the fact that K-State has played in a close game and Oklahoma has not will play to their advantage. We will have to see.
My prediction? I think K-State starts the game airing it out downfield and scores a few touchdowns early to keep pace with Oklahoma, but I think the Sooners will pull away in the third and fourth quarters to win. Something like 41-24. I hope I am wrong, but I can’t find many reasons to predict a K-State victory in this one.