Three thoughts from Oklahoma’s 55-0 victory over Kansas State:
1. K-State lost its identity on offense.
How bad was Kansas State’s playcalling on Saturday?
Bad enough for former star receiver Kevin Lockett to question it publicly on Twitter.
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Bad enough for Oklahoma defensive end Matt Dimon to question it with media after the game.
“I am not a game planner, but if you saw the game last week I would have run the ball,” Dimon said. “That is what we thought they were going to do, but they came out slinging it. They had the wind. I didn’t get a run block until the eighth or ninth play. It was surprising, but I’ll take what they give us.”
Bad enough for K-State fans everywhere to wonder when something is going to change.
The Wildcats have looked completely out of sync on offense in their last six quarters, blowing an 18-point lead in the second half against TCU and then getting shutout for the first time since 1996 against Oklahoma.
Both games included far too much passing, which led to three-and-outs and pick sixes.
K-State is at its best when it runs the ball. Joe Hubener likes to lower his shoulder, Justin Silmon is a talented running back, Charles Jones is capable. Even fullbacks Winston Dimel and Glenn Gronkowski can handle carries. The offensive line is a strength. Against weak run defenses, such as TCU and Oklahoma, the Wildcats would have been wise to lean on a run-oriented attack.
They used one in the first half against TCU, and good results followed. They threw more in the second half and lost. Against Oklahoma, they attempted to throw on their first six plays, waiting until they trailed 14-0 to try a run.
It doesn’t make sense. Fans have been second-guessing K-State’s playcalling all season, a rarity for Bill Snyder’s coaching staff.
Silmon’s usage is especially bizarre. The redshirt freshman may be the team’s best playmaker, yet he got three carries against Oklahoma. Was he banged up? If so, why not give Dalvin Warmack a try? Tyler Lockett, Curry Sexton and Jake Waters are long gone. This team should run first and pass second.
To be fair, things could have gone much differently had Hubener connected with Deante Burton for a potential touchdown pass in the first quarter instead of over throwing him. A field goal from Jack Cantele in the second quarter would have helped, too. Still, the Wildcats managed six first downs and 110 yards on 53 plays.
They never had a chance.
2. K-State has been here before and turned things around.
The last time K-State lost three games in a row, the Wildcats bounced back with four-straight victories. It was 2013 and they rallied from a 2-4 start to an 8-5 finish, including a convincing win over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
In 2003, K-State lost three straight games and then bounced back with seven straight victories and a Big 12 championship.
Can the Wildcats finish strong again this season? It’s certainly possible. The schedule is about to soften. After Texas and Baylor come games against Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia.
K-State looked hapless against Oklahoma, but it also nearly beat Oklahoma State and TCU. It’s hard to get a read on how good this team truly is. But there’s no reason it can’t win the majority of its remaining games with the proper adjustments.
Players cited those previous comebacks as motivation Saturday.
“A pretty good team in 2003 won the Big 12 Championship after three losses,” quarterback/receiver Kody Cook said. “It can be done. We’re going to bounce back. Coach Snyder will have us ready.”
3. The Texas game will be crucial.
K-State’s next game at Texas is enormous for the Wildcats.
It would be cliche to describe it as a must-win, but it is very important. Bill Snyder hasn’t lost four games in a row since 2005, when the Wildcats went 5-6.
Lose at Texas, and K-State is staring 3-5 in the face with Baylor up next. That would make the margin for error razor thin in K-State’s final four games as it chases bowl eligibility.
This is a game K-State can win, and it needs to do exactly that to stay above .500, boost morale and keep motivations high.
The Longhorns don’t pass well enough to exploit the Wildcats’ secondary. K-State’s run defense will be prepared to stop Texas on the ground.
Texas is a slim favorite, but it should be an evenly matched game.