Lingering thoughts from Oklahoma State’s 43-37 victory over Kansas State on Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium:
1. K-State’s secondary is worse than it was a year ago.
Dante Barnett is back and the unit has been healthy aside from Duke Shelley’s second-half exit against Oklahoma State, but the Wildcats are no better defending the pass than they were a year ago. They are actually worse.
That may be hard to believe given the revolving door approach K-State had to take with its secondary a year ago, playing new lineups in seemingly every game because of injuries. But the numbers don’t lie.
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In 2015, K-State allowed Big 12 teams to throw for an average of 298.4 yards while completing 64.8 percent of their passes.
In 2016, those numbers have climbed to 369.5 and 68.9.
K-State ranks last in the conference in both statistics.
Throw in nonconference games, and the numbers improve to 281.9 yards with a completion percentage of 66.3. Still, those numbers rank near the bottom of college football. K-State ranks 118th nationally in passing yards allowed.
The Oklahoma State loss highlighted K-State’s weakness against the pass. Though Shelley (pick six) and D.J. Reed (one-handed interception) both delivered a highlight play, OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph completed 29 of 38 passes for 457 yards and five touchdowns.
His longest play, an 82-yard bomb to James Washington, was far too easy. Washington beat backup corner Cedric Dozier on a double move and had nothing but turf between him and the end zone when Barnett bit on a play-action fake.
There is no telling how long Shelley will be out. He appeared to injure his foot in the second half, but Reed said it was an ankle injury. For what it’s worth, Reed also said he expected Shelley back against Baylor on Nov. 19.
With or without him, K-State’s secondary will need to play better down the stretch if the team hopes to finish strong.
2. Alex Barnes is K-State’s best running back.
K-State’s top three running backs all looked good against Oklahoma State. Charles Jones had 70 yards on seven carries and Justin Silmon had 29 yards on five carries, but Alex Barnes looked best gaining 72 yards on eight carries, including a gorgeous 27-yard scamper in which he showed speed and power.
He also flattened an Oklahoma State defender with a block that sprung fullback Winston Dimel for a 10-yard touchdown run.
Barnes is now averaging 7.8 yards per touch without losing yardage on any of his 27 carries.
It may be time for K-State to increase his usage. He looks like the best running back on the roster.
3. Two thumbs up for K-State’s alternate uniforms.
The Wildcats should wear alternate uniforms every year on Fort Riley Day.
They serve a good purpose (saluting the military) and they look good. What’s not to like?
4. K-State is recruiting a Stoops.
Among the many high school football players to visit Manhattan on Saturday was Isaac Stoops, a junior defensive back.
You probably know him best as the son of Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.
He shared a photo of his unofficial visit in which he posed with three-star defensive back Evan Fields, another K-State recruiting target.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett