MANHATTAN — Even with Daniel Thomas on the roster, Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder insists it is his desire to have a balanced offense.
Running the ball for huge yardage, as the Wildcats did in their season-opening victory against UCLA, is all well and good. But there will be games when gaining 313 yards on the ground isn't feasible, and K-State will need to take pressure off him by throwing the ball.
Snyder knows this. That's why he shook his head after looking at the 64 passing yards his team managed Saturday.
"We need to have more than what we got," he said.
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Well, if balance is what the Wildcats seek, they will have a great opportunity to pursue it this Saturday against Missouri State. The Bears, of the Football Championship Subdivision, will bring a much less daunting defense to Manhattan than UCLA did. The Bears surrendered 315 passing yards to Eastern Kentucky in their opener.
If ever there was a time to take chances with the passing game, this is it.
Think what a strong performance could do for senior quarterback Carson Coffman, who completed 11 of 16 passes for 66 yards against UCLA.
Think what a few big catches could do for the Wildcats' receiving corps, which couldn't spring a play for more than 13 yards.
Think what it could do for the Wildcats' offensive line, which allowed six sacks.
"A big emphasis of ours is we want to balance our offense," senior offensive lineman Zach Kendall said. "We need to be able to throw."
While everyone on the team would like to see an improved passing effort this week, Snyder said the Wildcats won't simply throw the ball for the sake of throwing the ball.
Besides, some members of K-State's offense didn't feel like the passing game was that far off in the opener.
"We were real close to having a couple big plays," senior wide receiver Aubrey Quarles said. "Unfortunately we weren't able to come down with them."
Some of those plays could have been touchdowns. On one long pass in the first half, Brodrick Smith had his defender beat by two yards, but Coffman lofted the pass past Smith's right shoulder instead of in front of his left, and Smith caught the ball a foot out of bounds.
On a quick pass to Chris Harper, the Oregon transfer had enough space to break a long gain, but was tripped up by the only defender with a chance of stopping him.
"I'm still kicking myself for that catch," Harper said. "I should have scored on it, but he got me. I wanted to make a statement play with it and was trying to be physical. After looking at it I could have just run around him."
Tweak those two plays, and the offense looks more balanced.
More than anything, those are the type of improvements Snyder wants to see against Missouri State.
"I'd always like to throw the ball down field just to have the balance in your offense," Snyder said. "When you talk about balance, all the time it relates to so many things. It's relative to throwing the short passing game, the intermediate passing game, the deep passing game. The opponent dictates the balance more often than not."
Big 12 honors — Daniel Thomas and Anthony Cantele were honored by the Big 12 for their performances against UCLA.
After rushing for 234 yards and two touchdowns, Thomas was named the conference's co-offensive player of the week along with Oklahoma State's Kendall Hunter. Cantele, a Wichita native who played at Kapaun Mount Carmel, shared special teams player of the week honors with Oklahoma punter Tress Way.
Making his collegiate debut, Cantele connected on four extra points and a 35-yard field goal. He also boomed four of his six kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks.
"He did really a nice job," Snyder said of Cantele. "He hit the ball with confidence... I don't think he showed the effects of being out there basically for the first time. Where I was really impressed was how he kicked the ball into the wind on kickoffs. He placed the ball really well."
Hanson adjusts — Senior offensive lineman Zach Hanson is listed as the starting right tackle for the Missouri State game. He was the backup left tackle heading into last week's game, but was thrown onto the right side when starter Ethan Douglas went down with a knee injury. Snyder said he does not expect Douglas to return immediately.