K-Stated

Kansas State Q&A: So you’re telling me there’s a chance

Kansas State's Ryan Mueller tries to fire up the crowd during the fourth quarter at Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan.
Kansas State's Ryan Mueller tries to fire up the crowd during the fourth quarter at Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan. The Wichita Eagle

It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

Let’s jump right into your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

In the classic comedy “Dumb and Dumber,” Lloyd Christmas grins ear to ear and tells the woman he traveled across the country for “So you’re telling me there’s a chance,” when she informs him they have a one in a million shot of being together. Now, picture him as a K-State football fan and imagine his reaction to the far better odds of 2.6 percent.

If you haven’t seen the chart, K-State has a 2.6 percent shot of reaching college football’s first playoff, according to the statistical site FiveThirtyEight.

I doubt there is any way the Wildcats can move from No. 9 to No. 4 in a single weekend. Even if Alabama, TCU, Florida State and Oregon (the current top four) all go down, K-State still has Georgia Tech, Missouri, Arizona and Ohio State to worry about. And there’s no guarantee the Wildcats could jump Alabama, Oregon or Florida State if they lose. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say K-State obliterates Baylor and chaos ensues and a top-four spot materializes.

K-State’s best matchups would be Florida State, Ohio State and maybe Arizona. It regularly struggles with fast, high-octane teams like TCU, Oregon and Baylor.

I wouldn’t say K-State has conceded anything in the national discussion. TCU and Baylor are simply what most outside the Big 12 want to discuss. It is a fascinating topic. Here you have Baylor with the same record as TCU and a head-to-head victory over TCU ranked behind TCU. And it only seems like one of them is going to make the playoff. Sure, K-State can crash the party and even win an outright Big 12 championship on Saturday. That’s a nice regional storyline. But it’s all about the playoff, nationally.

A little from Column A. A little from Column B. The biggest improvement in the running game was probably the play-calling. Instead of asking DeMarcus Robinson and Charles Jones to try and beat defenders to the edge (and fail) K-State had them running between the tackles and finding space in various ways. Jake Waters threw Jones a screen pass. Jones lined up in the wildcat formation. Joe Hubener took the field in what looked like the wildcat formation, though a timeout prevented him from actually running with the ball. The offensive line was also much improved. Kansas and its pitiful run defense helped, but if the Wildcats stay creative they can have success on the ground against Baylor, too.

Been getting the one on Braxton Miller a lot. Yes, I think K-State would be interested in him or any other talented quarterback transfer. Bill Snyder has some options at quarterback next year with Hubener, Jesse Ertz and Alex Delton, but no locked in starter. More competition would help. But they don’t need more competition so badly that they will try and re recruit Bender. He quit the team after one semester. No way K-State would want him back. No way he would want to return.

I interviewed Edwards and K-State basketball coach Bruce Weber about this very topic yesterday. Check back later today for my story.

K-State believes in its own recruiting rankings. Not the ones produced by Rivals, Scout and 247sports. That is part of it. Its coaches often see two-star players (Collin Klein) as five-star players. But I have also spoken with K-State assistants who say it’s not worth their time to try for five-star recruits. If they miss on a five-star guy, they also miss on the three-star player they could have realistically signed had they simply put more time in with them. Hard work means as much as talent in Snyder’s system, and they have been so successful developing overlooked talent that they aren’t about to change their recruiting system. Still, Snyder has done a decent job recruiting four-star players recently. Duke Shelley is committed for next year. Terrell Clinkscales and Dvonta Derricott signed this year. Tanner Wood had four-stars. Once upon a time, DeMarcus Robinson was a four-star recruit, too. But none of those players have done anything spectacular. Few players start immediately at K-State. They have to earn their spots the hard way. I’m sure that is part of it, too.

Good question. I could see some benefit in playing Stephen F. Austin in Week 11 instead of Week 1. You could conceivably get your backups additional work and your starters extra rest. It would also be hard for the opponent to put everything they have into the game the way they do at the start of the year. But focus could be a concern, going from Oklahoma to a lesser opponent and back to TCU. It might be easier to keep the guarantee games early. The trade off with a late guarantee game is K-State would have to play a conference game early to adjust the schedule. The Wildcats tried that this season with Iowa State as the second opponent, and things worked out. In the SEC, some teams open with difficult conference games. I don’t see Snyder ever signing up for that. He likes to play nonconference games at home and use them as dress rehearsals that build toward the Big 12. But it might be worth a try.

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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