Kansas State is going to have another outstanding football season. The Bill Snyder Football Factory is running smooth, even as the coach himself trudges into his mid-70s.
There’s no end in sight for Snyder, at least from the outside. He might have a clearer view of when it is he’s going to stop, but he’s not tipping his hand. He never does.
If K-State can win two more games, Snyder will reach double figures in wins for the 10th time in his 23 seasons. That’s remarkable, especially considering the Wildcats had won 10 or more only once in history before Snyder arrived from Iowa in 1989.
The 1910 Kansas State football team, coached by Mike Ahearn, went 10-1. It was the year before my father was born.
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Under Snyder, the Wildcats have won 11 games seven times, including six times during a seven-season span from 1997-2003. Those were undoubtedly the glory years for Snyder and Kansas State.
They have a chance to get to 11 wins this season if they can beat Kansas (it’ll happen) and Baylor (hold your horses) to close out the regular season, then win a bowl game.
K-State’s only two losses in 2014 are to Auburn and TCU. I think it’s been an over-achieving team, one that has had to produce offense without a standout running back and defend with a former walk-on from Kapaun Mount Carmel, Jonathan Truman, leading the way.
I expected huge seasons from quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett. And while they’ve been really good, they haven’t lit it up the way I thought they would.
Opposing defenses are doing their best to take away Lockett, and have done a so-so job in doing so. Lockett does have 70 catches for 1,074 yards and is on pace to do as well or better than last season, when he caught 81 passes for 1,262 yards.
The receiver who has exploded on the scene is senior Curry Sexton, from Abilene. Sexton caught 39 passes for 346 yards last season, but didn’t get into the end zone.
He has four touchdown receptions in 2014 to go with 58 catches good for 799 yards.
Snyder has never given up on the running game and early on it was Waters doing much of the damage. But he suffered a shoulder injury in K-State’s 31-30 win over Oklahoma on Oct. 18 and hasn’t been the same runner since.
Waters rushed for 371 yards on 79 carries in K-State’s first six games, but has only 48 yards on 35 carries in the past four games.
Both Charles Jones and DeMarcus Robinson have had their moments running the football. Jones has rushed for 11 touchdowns. But the Wildcats, who have never rushed the ball exceptionally, have really struggled to get anything going on the ground in three November games, averaging just over 56 yards.
I thought Waters might get his name into the Heisman Trophy discussion, but that won’t happen. He’s had another really good season, though, especially considering that 128 of his 195 completions have been to Lockett and Curry.
It’s not difficult to know what Kansas State wants to do in a particular game and to Waters’ credit, he’s been able to at least match his outstanding passing numbers from his junior season.
And, as usual, the Wildcats don’t beat themselves. They usually find a way to hang in games – their 41-20 loss at TCU being an exception this season – and often overcome teams with more physical talent.
That’s Snyder’s way. It’s been working for years. There are no signs that it’s going to stop working. Kansas State and its wise coach keep chugging along.