K-Stated

Three K-State Thoughts: Joe Hubener improves, Cody Whitehair shines and the importance of a bowl game

K-State quarterback Joe Hubener celebrates a 34 yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter that put K-State within striking distance of Baylor(November 05, 2015)
K-State quarterback Joe Hubener celebrates a 34 yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter that put K-State within striking distance of Baylor(November 05, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

Three thoughts from Baylor’s 31-24 victory over Kansas State on Thursday at Snyder Family Stadium:

1. K-State needs more of this Joe Hubener.

Hubener rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns on a whopping 29 carries. He completed 12 of 21 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. He helped K-State dominate time of possession and gave the Wildcats plenty of chances to score.

It was his best game of this season and a huge step forward from hapless efforts against Oklahoma and Texas in which K-State scored a total of nine points and the offense appeared in desperate need of a need of a new quarterback.

The Wildcats can score and win when Hubener plays this well.

Was he perfect? No. Far from it. He threw a foolish pass into coverage that resulted in an interception. He lost a fumble. And he had made an all-time bad throw trying to hit an open Glenn Gronkowski, missing the open fullback by 10 yards without a hint of pressure in his face. Without those mistakes, maybe K-State would have pulled off the upset.

But those mistakes are fixable. If he can find a way to limit the bad and continue the good, the Wildcats will take their chances in their final four games.

"I think things are really starting to click on this offense and things are starting to come together," Hubener said. "Obviously we are still a work in progress, but balance is what we are looking for. We were starting to get that way. We need to continue to improve upon that."

2. A bowl game should be K-State’s new goal.

I asked several K-State players about what they will use as motivation during their next four games. Their answers ranged everywhere from pride, to Bill Snyder and simply ending their five-game losing streak.

Then, one by one, they said it would also be nice to reach bowl eligibility.

That should be the driving force moving forward. K-State hasn’t lost to any of its next four opponents – Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia – since 2009. Running the table is possible. Three victories and a 6-6 record is certainly attainable. That would get the Wildcats to a bowl for their sixth straight season.

Continuing that streak is important. So is earning more practice days. With a young roster, this team will cherish all practice time it can get. Plus, it would be a nice reward for a team that has fought to stay positive in difficult times.

3. Cody Whitehair never backed down against Shawn Oakman.

Have you ever seen Shawn Oakman?

Most of us would turn and run if we saw the gigantic Baylor defensive end coming at us, but K-State left tackle Cody Whitehair stood strong and took the fight to Oakman.

He limited him to three tackles, none for loss. He helped K-State’s offensive line protect Hubener (one sack) and pave the way for 430 yards of offense.

At one point, Whitehair got in Oakman’s face and let him know he wasn’t afraid of the Meme legend.

There were 31 NFL scouts in attendance Thursday from 21 teams. They had to like what they saw out of Whitehair.

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

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