The Kansas State Wildcats defeated the UTSA Roadrunners 41-17 on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Here are some thoughts, awards and grades from the game.
Player of the game
K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson was the star of the game. A case could also be made for Isaiah Zuber after the receiver caught seven passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns, but Thompson was the one who set the tone. Days after Bill Snyder gave him a public vote of confidence as the team’s top quarterback, Thompson played one of the most complete games of his college career. He completed 13 of 18 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 66 yards and a score. Any remaining talk of a quarterback controversy in Manhattan needs to stop.
Play of the game
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Thompson’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Zuber at the end of the first half all but clinched the game for K-State. It was only 20-7 when Kendall Adams recovered a fumble at the UTSA 25 with 34 seconds remaining in the second quarter, but the Wildcats showed some killer instinct and turned a close game into a rout.
Stat of the game
7. As in the number of different K-State players who caught a pass against UTSA. Even tight end Blaise Gammon got involved. The Wildcats showed their versatility on offense.
Quote to note
“I wanted to come into this game, play loose and have a lot of confidence. We have a big game next week, going at West Virginia, starting Big 12 play. I knew it was really important for our offense to get going and build some confidence going into that game.” — Skylar Thompson.
Offense: B+. The Wildcats needed a confidence boost on offense. Amassing 449 yards and scoring 41 points against UTSA certainly did the trick. Thompson looked sharp and led K-State on six scoring drives (and only one punt) before exiting the game in the third quarter. Zuber was great and Alex Barnes got his first rushing touchdown of the season. Thompson has now connected with Dalton Schoen for a touchdown in consecutive games. That’s a duo to keep an eye on as the season continues. The offensive line played better, but still struggled at times as run blockers.
Defense: B. K-State held the Roadrunners to 300 yards and 17 points without the services of safety Denzel Goolsby (out for at least a few games while he recovers from injury) and linebacker Elijah Sullivan (dressed but not play while dealing with a knee issue). That’s not bad. But UTSA scored the final 10 points of the game and threatened to make it 17 on the final series. K-State still looks a step slow at linebacker and surrendered some long plays. Eli Walker had some hard hits filling in for Goolsby.
Special Teams: B. It was a mostly quiet day on special teams, but Blake Lynch connected on two field goals and the Wildcats benefited from good field position most of the day.
Coaching: B+. Offensive coordinator Andre Coleman moved out of the press box and called plays from the field in this game, while quarterbacks coach Collin Klein surveyed the field from above. It was a good switch. Snyder said offensive communication was much improved. Thompson said speaking with Coleman face-to-face had a big impact on his performance. “I think that made a difference with Coach Coleman,” Thompson said. “That is where he is used to being at and his view point of the game. That helped a lot for Coach Coleman calling plays and for our offense with Coach Klein up in the box, because he sees the game so well. That allowed them to make adjustments and checks that we previously missed earlier in the season.”
The warm-up games are over. It’s time for K-State to begin Big 12 play. The Wildcats start with a difficult challenge at West Virginia.
After Oklahoma, the Mountaineers were the trendy pick to win the conference this season. They certainly have the best offense in the league with quarterback Will Grier and receiver David Sills leading the way.
This will be a new, difficult test for K-State’s defense.
But West Virginia has a lot more than an explosive offense. This looks like the most complete team Dana Holgorsen has coached in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers are off to a 2-0 start with victories over Tennessee (40-14) and Youngstown State (52-17). They were scheduled to play North Carolina State on Saturday, but the game was canceled because of Hurricane Florence.
It’s unclear whether that will work as an advantage for West Virginia. On one hand, coaches had extra time to devote to K-State last week, and players got the weekend off. On the other hand, an unexpected bye week could disrupt the team’s momentum.
Snyder said he doesn’t think the cancellation will have much of an impact on this game.
West Virginia will be favored at home. K-State won its first four games against West Virginia after the Mountaineers joined the Big 12, but WVU has bounced back to win the last two in this series. West Virginia won 28-23 in Manhattan last season.