After a less than convincing win against South Dakota to open the season, Kansas State looked to make a statement against the 18th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs coming to Manhattan. However, things didn’t quite work out the way the purple faithful had hoped. The Bulldogs, favored to win by 8, showed that every bit of their bite was real and sent the Wildcats reeling with a 31-10 loss.
The Wildcats were able to hang tough through the first quarter and things looked promising as it both teams were locked up at 3 a piece. After that point though, the Bulldogs took a stranglehold of the game and never let go. The Bulldogs seemingly pushed the Wildcats around, something we seldom see.
Instead of answers, Bill Snyder’s Wildcats were left with many more questions to answer before the beginning of conference play.
The offensive line, the most vaunted of all K-State’s units, wound up allowing four sacks and seven quarterback hurries. It’s understandable that this unit would have their hands full with the talented Bulldog defensive line, but their performance was a huge letdown. There simply wasn’t much time for quarterbacks Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson to follow through their progressions and make plays as they finished with only 9 completions and 100 passing yards, collectively. The Wildcat offense finished the day with a pedestrian 213 yards of total offense for all their troubles.
Defensively, the Wildcats were not any better off as they allowed MSU’s offense to rack up 538 total yards. Despite an average passing performance from quarterback Nick Fitzgerald in his first start of the season, he still amassed 313 total yards and two touchdowns. What Fitzgerald may have lacked in showmanship, running back Kylin Hill provided in abundance. Hill ran for 211 yards and two touchdowns on only 17 carries against the Wildcats defense.
Kansas State has a lot of questions to answer going into week three. Can they rebound, or is this just who they are?
Who Are You?
Kansas State was left bruised and beaten, simply outplayed by a more physical and chippy opponent. Coach Snyder’s team needs to show that they can get up off the mat against UTSA. The Wildcats record may be 1-1, but on the ol’ eyeball test, they’re 0-2. We, along with the Wildcats, simply don’t know who this team is or what they’re yet capable of.
Is There A Quarterback On The Roster?
The saying that if you have two quarterbacks, then you don’t have one rings true in Manhattan. Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton have been underwhelming, but Snyder and Co.’s only option is tag team them in and out and just cross their fingers that one catches a spark.
Thompson is completing less than 50 percent of his passes on the season. He’s currently 15 for 31. That’s less than ideal. Unfortunately, Delton isn’t any better. In fact, he’s worse, because at 7 of 18 he isn’t even completing 40 percent of his passes.
Now, it’s not their arms that make Snyder’s offense work. It’s their legs. However, they were amputated on Saturday. Thompson averaged just 2.8 a carry against Mississippi State, and Delton recorded just four yards on six carrier.
If they can’t make anyone respect their passing ability, then they won’t get much done on the ground. Because, as good as Alex Barnes is, even his legs aren’t strong enough to run through a defense while dragging 10 guys behind him.
Where Did The Run Defense Go?
After only allowing South Dakota 77 yards on the ground the week before, the Wildcats gave up 384 rush yards against the Bulldogs. What happened?
Running back Kylin Hill went off for 211 yards and two touchdowns on just 17 carries. K-State also failed to contain Fitzgerald. He rushed for 159 yards on 19 carries. As a team, Mississippi State averaged 9.8 yards per carry. That’s insane.
We aren’t used to seeing a Bill Synder team so under prepared, but that’s exactly what they were on Saturday. If they can’t stop the run, with the running backs and mobile quarterbacks that are in this conference, it’s going to be a long season. Thankfully, UTSA isn’t any good, and if the Wildcats can make some adjustments up front on both sides of the ball, they will have a chance to regain some confidence next week.