KSU Defeats Sputtering Cardinal

Kansas State starts the season fast by defeating a quality Stanford team. The Wildcat Defense blanked the Cardinal until the last 3 minutes of the game. KSU’s grizzled 6th year veteran, Skyler Thompson, led the offense to victory with two rushing touch downs and another 144 yards thru the air. Deuce Vaughn slashed the Cardinal defense for 124 yards on 13 carries. Those are the highlights.

Stanford never established an offensive rhythm. Their uninspired play was in part self-inflicted. The Cardinal Offense had a multitude of false start, illegal formation, and delay of game penalties. Coach Shaw couldn’t decide which quarterback to start. Neither quarterback was in long enough to get into a rhythm. What is worse, is the Cardinal offense schemed receivers open in the first half but neither quarterback could consistently deliver the ball effectively. Finally, Stanford played with a severe lack of discipline. They looked lost. As the game progressed, it became clear that the Kansas State Wildcat defense had the Cardinal figured out. Receivers stopped getting open, and the Kansas State defense started feasting.

The Wildcat Defense brought their lunch pail today. They showed that this Big 12 team hasn’t forgotten how to play defense. The squad has multiple new faces in all three defensive units. They all played together like a well-oiled machine. While their run defense was stifling in the first quarter, the Wildcat coverage was a bit inconsistent causing the team to bend, but they didn’t break. Except for a few plays, the KSU secondary executed blanket coverage over the Cardinal receivers from the 2nd quarter on resulting in two interceptions and a third interception that was called back due to a penalty. Russ Yeast looks like a great acquisition for the Wildcats. He was all over the field today. The defensive line and linebackers feasted most of the game logging at least 4 sacks and multiple quarterback pressures. At seemed like the defense lived in the Cardinal backfield.

Deuce got loose today! With a little over 6 minutes to go in the second quarter, Deuce burned the Cardinal defense for a 59-yard touchdown. Malik Knowles was also a key contributor with multiple runs and catches for first downs. What is clear is that the offense runs thru Skyler Thompson and Deuce Vaughn. What may not be as clear is that Skyler Thompson has A LOT of room to grow.

Thompson had an okay game today. As usual, he relied on his legs to get him out of trouble. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. What concerns me about Skyler is that he is a 6th year senior plagued with the same deficiencies he has always had. He is an inconsistent thrower from the pocket. He looks for the big play instead of finding a check down. He holds the ball too long instead of throwing it away. Both his touchdown runs were designed zone read plays. However, his would be touchdown throw was overthrown into an interception. His athleticism keeps him alive and allows him to make plays. However, big plays don’t occur as often as he scrambles. He had one 56-yard throw to Philip Brooks. The rest of the time he takes a sack, or just takes off and hopes to get a few yards. In a few cases he ran for first downs putting himself at risk for injury. He has outlet receivers, but he fails to find them. Thompson gets the job done but will need to improve significantly to compete with Oklahoma, Texas, and Iowa State.

Kansas State offensive staff needs to spend some more time on the pass game. The run game is set. The pass protection is set. Thompson has plenty of time to get rid of the ball. What is deficient is the lack of complexity and variety in the receiver routes. This year the Wildcats have a stable of receivers who can contribute at a high level. Malik Knowles, Daniel Imatorbhebhe and Phillp Brooks need to be more involved. 7 catches between the 3 of them isn’t good enough to compete with the big boys. All three are above average receivers. The offensive staff needs to dial up more short and intermediate routes. Finally, the offensive staff needs to spend more time with Skyler Thompson on the issue of finding his outlet and hot receivers. Executing a dynamic passing attack only makes the Wildcat rushing attack better. It also helps keep their signal caller on the field. While Skyler Thompson has a lot to improve on, there is no doubt that the KSU offense is better with him on the field than without him.

All in all, this is a great first game for the Wildcats. There is much to be proud of. There is also a lot to work on. I look forward to watching the Wildcats grow this season!

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