If Kansas State defeats Texas on Saturday its all-time victory total will climb to 500.
That’s a milestone number for any football program, but it should carry extra meaning for K-State coach Bill Snyder and Wildcats fans.
Here’s why: Before Snyder arrived at K-State in 1989, the Wildcats had won 299 football games in their first 93 seasons. In other words, they were averaging 3.2 victories a year.
At that pace, it would have taken them another 31 years (2020) to reach 400 victories and another 63 years (2052) to reach 500 victories.
Snyder sped up the process significantly, delivering a nitrous oxide boost to the K-State football engine. Since his arrival, the Wildcats have averaged 7.7 victories -- including the three Ron Prince years -- advanced to 16 bowls and won two Big 12 championships.
There are countless reasons why Snyder was a worthy inclusion on the 2015 College Football Hall of Fame ballot as an active coach. K-State’s rapid march to 500 victories could be paramount among them.
Now on to your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.
My sense on Jake Waters was that his shoulder was sore, and it would continue to be sore for a little while. But the injury didn’t seem like something that would hinder his performance in future games. He didn’t miss a snap against Oklahoma, completing 6 of 11 passes for 70 yards after he was awkwardly tackled early in the third quarter. He also ran for a touchdown in the second half. He was in noticeable discomfort, but he clearly has a high pain threshold. Teammates are beginning to compare him to Collin Klein on the toughness scale. I don’t see a sore shoulder slowing him down.
I’m predicting K-State to beat Texas rather comfortably 34-17. I’ve noticed many of my media colleagues calling for this to be a close game, and there are certain scenarios in which the Longhorns could pose an upset threat. They have averaged more than 500 yards in their past two games, and their defense has been mostly strong under Charlie Strong. But they also allowed 45 points to Iowa State at home last week. I think turnovers will turn this into a double-digit victory for K-State. Texas will cough up the ball, while K-State will hang onto it.
That’s a good question about K-State’s point guard situation. Ideally, I think Bruce Weber wants to give Jevon Thomas the most minutes. He is the team’s only pure pass-first point guard, and his speed and defense will help an athletic lineup run. But Nigel Johnson proved he could score last year against Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament, and he has the better overall combination of skills. Then there’s Marcus Foster, who says he wants to play point guard and run the second K-State gets a rebound. It’s an intriguing option that would get Foster, Justin Edwards and Wesley Iwundu on the perimeter. There will definitely be a time share. My guess is Thomas splits most of the work with Johnson, while Foster handles the ball for short portions of every game.
Impossible question to answer before we see this roster in action. And I think the starting lineup that opens the season will look different than the lineup that finishes the season. But here’s my best guess for opening game: 1. Jevon Thomas. 2. Marcus Foster. 3. Wesley Iwundu. 4. Thomas Gipson. 5. Stephen Hurt.
That is the million-dollar question moving forward, isn’t it? K-State’s secondary did not look good against Oklahoma. Trevor Knight went from barely completing 50 percent of his passes before the K-State game to completing nearly all his passes for 318 yards and three touchdowns against K-State. His job seemed as simple as spotting cornerback Morgan Burns and safety Dylan Schellenberg and then throwing the ball to the receiver they were defending. Makes you wonder what Oklahoma coaches were thinking when they asked Knight to challenge Danzel McDaniel with a swing pass in front of the Sooners’ end zone, resulting in a pick six, and called a wide-receiver pass, resulting in another interception. The good news is K-State’s defense stayed confident and made opportunistic plays throughout. But there’s no doubt Burns and Schellenberg need to improve. If another team, such as Baylor, West Virginia or TCU, keeps things simple, turnovers might not be so easy to come by in the secondary.
The biggest stat for Iowa State in its 48-45 loss against Texas last week was the amount of plays it ran -- 93. The Cyclones turned those opportunities into 524 yards, with 345 coming through the air. K-State managed 55 plays against Oklahoma, so there is no way the Wildcats can duplicate Iowa State’s offensive game plan. That’s probably for the best. K-State has a great track record against Texas, winning five of the last six, playing its own style. No reason to change that now.
Well, John, that game will be a big one for K-State and Baylor, but I think K-State’s trip to TCU will have more meaning in the conference race. They seem like the league’s top two contenders, at the moment. Really, though, there are a lot of games that could end up having the feel of a championship game. Oklahoma and West Virginia are both in the mix, too.
I haven’t asked specifically about Tanner Wood since K-State held its media day in the preseason, but the coaching staff still seems high on the former four-star recruit. He has played in all six games this year, making two tackles. Defensive ends Ryan Mueller and Laton Dowling are both seniors. Expect Wood to challenge for increased playing time, and possibly a starting spot, at that position next season.