TCU defeated Kansas State 26-6 on Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium.
Some lingering thoughts from the game:
1. Time remains for the Wildcats to turn the season around. But will they do it?
Kansas State is 3-3 for the third straight year. In 2015, it lost five consecutive games in the middle of the season and needed late wins over Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia to reach bowl eligibility and finsih 6-7. Last year, it got things going and won six of its final seven to finish 9-4.
So what happens this time around? Hard to say.
I asked K-State coach Bill Snyder if he thought this team could duplicate the 6-1 run last year’s group pulled off, and he didn’t sound optimistic.
“I think we have the capacity to be able to finish the season well. Now, whether we do or not is another story,” Snyder said. “I think they will be competitive. I don’t think they will give up. There is too much heart with most of the young guys we have. We need a couple more to climb on board. But, by the same token, I believe they will make the effort. There are a lot of things that need to be cleaned up that maybe weren’t as prevalent last year as they are right now.”
K-State’s defense has taken a step forward from last season, but the offense has taken a nosedive. The Wildcats certainly didn’t look good without starting quarterback Jesse Ertz against TCU, gaining a season-low 216 yards.
The remaining schedule also isn’t as friendly as once thought. K-State will be favored at Kansas, and maybe against West Virginia/Iowa State. But it is already a 13-point underdog against No. 9 Oklahoma. Trips to Texas Tech and Oklahoma State will be difficult. So will home games against West Virginia and Iowa State, which are both 4-2.
K-State fans entered the season thinking 10 wins or bust. Now, they’re just hoping for a bowl.
The Wildcats can still make the postseason, but they don’t have much margin for error.
2. K-State’s offense reached a new low.
The offense hasn’t looked good since K-State began playing real competition after a 2-0 start, but it hit rock bottom against TCU, failing to score a single touchdown on 216 yards.
I thought Alex Delton would provide a lift to the struggling offense, but it didn’t happen. It was only his first start, and brighter days are probably ahead, but on Saturday he showed why K-State coaches prefer Jesse Ertz, even when he’s not at full strength.
Delton completed 11 of 29 passes for 146 yards. Snyder said he struggled, but he never considered pulling him for freshman Skylar Thompson, much to the dismay of some fans.
K-State has a lot of work to do before it tries to outscore Oklahoma. The play-calling is too predictable, the running game has disappeared and the passing game is inconsistent. The Wildcats twice reached the red zone against TCU and walked away without a single point.
The only positive was Byron Pringle showing signs of life with three catches for 80 yards. If he avoids a pass interference penalty and catches a touchdown pass in the first half, things might have gone differently.
Still, it was an ugly game.
Here’s a stat that perfectly sums up the struggles of this offense: Vanderbilt held K-State to just 7 points in Nashville last month. At the time, the Commodores had one of the highest-rated defenses in the nation, so the disappointing effort seemed like an outlier for the Wildcats. It turned out to be a sign of things to come. Since that game, Vanderbilt has allowed 199 points to Alabama (59), Florida (38), Georgia (45) and Mississippi (57).
3. The defense continues to do its part.
Trent Tanking had 13 tackles and Tanner Wood had his first sack of the season. Will Geary is having a great season. TCU rushed for just 98 yards and K-State defenders broke up four passes.
The Wildcats could always be better on defense, but they are playing well enough to win games.
It is strange how wrong the projections were for this team. Everyone thought the offense would dominate, while the defense would do just enough to get by. Instead, the defense has flexed its muscles and the offense has tanked.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett