Kansas State’s hot start to the season under new football coach Chris Klieman is beginning to look like fool’s gold following a 31-12 loss to the Baylor Bears on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The Wildcats have lost each of their first two Big 12 games by double digits. Their offense is sputtering and their defense is struggling to make tackles. They will need to come up with some answers over the next two weeks before they play their next game against TCU.
Until then, here are some awards and grades from the Baylor game, as well as a look ahead to the Horned Frogs:
Player of the game
Baylor defender James Lynch had his way with K-State’s offensive line, finishing the game with three sacks and a forced fumble. The Bears practically lived in the Wildcats’ backfield, as they recorded a whopping 15 tackles for loss, but Lynch led the way.
The Bears did enough to pull away on offense, but they won this game on defense.
For K-State, MVP honors go to senior punter Devin Anctil: He booted six punts for 245 yards and pinned Baylor in front of its own goal line on three different occasions. His best punt a 55-yarder that bounced out of bounds at the Baylor two in the second quarter. The Bears scored on a 98-yard touchdown drive 2 minutes, 28 seconds later, but it was a beautiful punt.
Play of the game
The Bears clinched victory when R.J. Sneed caught a pass near the left sideline, bounced off two K-State defenders and then slipped past a third for a 38-yard gain early in the fourth quarter.
K-State trailed 17-6 at the time and had just knocked Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer out of the game. The Bears faced third-and-22 from the K-State 42 with their backup quarterback needing to throw for a first down, and they got it.
On the next play, Baylor QB Gerry Bohanon found the end zone on a four-yard run that made the score 24-6. The Wildcats weren’t coming back from that deficit.
Stat of the game
Fifteen of Baylor’s 68 total tackles dropped K-State behind the line of scrimmage for a loss, meaning one out of every 4.5 plays the Wildcats tried went for negative yardage.
Ten different Baylor players recorded a tackle for loss.
That was the story of the game.
Quote to note
“We all have to be better and it starts with me. I’ve got to be better and make sure to push the right buttons. The seniors have to be better, everybody’s got to get invested a little bit more so that we can get this thing turned.” — Chris Klieman.
Offense: F. What has happened to K-State’s power running attack? The Wildcats ran at will in their first three games, but averaged just 3.1 yards per attempt against Baylor. K-State’s offensive line has looked confused and overmatched in each of its Big 12 games, making it difficult to pick up first downs, let alone sustain drives. The passing game took a step in the right direction this week, with Skylar Thompson throwing for a career-high 218 yards. But the Wildcats aren’t explosive enough to make plays without better rushing numbers. Something has to change. They have scored a total of 25 points in Big 12 play.
Defense: C. K-State surrendered 426 yards and held Baylor to just two third-conversions. The Wildcats did a lot of things right against the Bears, but they also made big mistakes. Eight different Baylor players picked up gains of 23 yards or more. Klieman was critical of K-State’s tackling. Coverage was also lacking on Baylor’s biggest passing plays.
Special Teams: A. Blake Lynch connected on field goals of 29 and 31 yards. Devin Anctil booted six punts for 245 yards. They were two of K-State’s best players.
Coaching: F. The last two games have raised concerns about K-State’s ability to compete in the Big 12. Baylor and Oklahoma State both rattled the Wildcats with a defensive front that featured three linemen and blitzing linebackers. Baylor and Oklahoma State both won handily. Klieman will need to change some things up over the next two weeks.
K-State will be back in action against TCU on Oct. 19. Game time and TV info will be announced early this week.
That game might feel like a must-win for the Wildcats with Oklahoma next on the schedule. TCU is a hard team to figure out at the moment. Gary Patterson’s squad is off to a 3-2 start that features a road win over Purdue and a lopsided home victory over Kansas. But the Horned Frogs are coming off a 49-24 loss at Iowa State.