Last week we learned that Kansas State has a great deal of room for growth over the course of the rest of the season, and that that growth needs to occur sooner rather than later in order to compete with the upper half of the Big 12 this season.
On a positive note,
We also learned that the pass defense has the potential to be very good. The Wildcats held Spencer Sanders, the Cowboys' starting quarterback, to only 153 yards passing and one score, while also forcing two interceptions.
On the flip side, one of the reasons why Sanders only passed for 153, is that he only attempted 25 passes in the game. He completed 16, for a 64% completion percentage, which is decent. The reason threw the ball less than 50% of the time on Saturday was because the run game was running all over the Wildcat defense.
Specifically, redshirt sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard was a one man wrecking crew against the Kansas State defense. He carried the ball 25 times for 296 yards, a staggering 11.8 yards per carry average. According to SI's own Zach Lancaster, the performance has catapulted Hubbard in to the national conversation for the Heisman Trophy.
Time will tell how accurate that is, but two realities exist: first, if OSU commits to running Hubbard 25 times per game, he'll have ample opportunity to build a strong resume against the soft defenses in the Big 12.
Second, Kansas State must improve its rush defense moving forward to give the team a fighting to chance to remain competitive.
The problem with giving up so many yards on the ground is that it limits the Cats time of possession. For a team that wants to run the football 60-70% of its offensive snaps, allowing the other team to control the clock is not a winning formula.
Second, Kansas State must improve its passing game in order to remain competitive in the Big 12. On Saturday, quarterback Skylar Thompson passed only 23 times, completed only 11 passes, and averaged a shade over 10 yards per completion. Those numbers are not enough to keep opposing defenses honest enough to allow Kansas State run game to continue thriving.
If head coach Chris Klieman can correct these two issues, Kansas State will stand a fighting chance in nearly every contest moving forward.
But it won't be easy. To a degree, Oklahoma State may have created a blueprint for how best to approach game-planning against Kansas State. And, if the opposing quarterback can complete 60%+ of their passes, it will be difficult to slow down opposing running backs if the team commits to giving them the carries.
It is not time to hit the panic button in Manhattan. Chris Kleiman has a history of making strong in season adjustments to improve the competitiveness of his teams - and fans should expect to see the same thing moving forward.
With the Baylor Bears coming to town this weekend, for fans' sake hopefully Kleiman and Co. can correct these sooner rather than later. If not, they'll risk watching the Bears take a big bite out of the Little Apple.