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2018 Week 6

What We Learned From Baylor’s Home Win Over Kansas State

Suddenly things are looking up for the Bears, not so much for Kansas State.

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The Baylor Bears made postseason play more of a reality on Saturday, as they defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 37-34 in a thrilling matchup. The game started well for the Wildcats, who made some mistakes and gave up some yards to Baylor, but managed to hold the Bears to field goals. Kansas State was up 14-12 at halftime, but the second half belonged to Baylor.

In the end, the difference in this game was Baylor making plays when they needed them. Connor Martin struggled with his kicks on the day, but with eight seconds left, he put the game out of reach for the Wildcats. Here’s what we learned from these teams on Saturday.

HAVE THE WILDCATS FOUND AN OFFENSIVE IDENTITY?

After all of the controversy over who would start this week, those discussions went out the window when Alex Delton came out without his pads on. The good news for the Wildcats was that the offense probably benefited from having a consistent play caller.

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The bad news? The offense still didn’t look great for most of the day.

The Wildcats had issues most any time they dropped back to pass. The Kansas State offensive line couldn’t consistently protect Thompson, but the quarterback had his share of bad throws. At one point in the middle of the third quarter, Skylar Thompson overthrew a wide open Alex Barnes, who had slipped out of the backfield and was streaking up the sideline all alone.

Kansas State’s strategy for much of the game appeared to be to try and set up the play action passing game, but the Wildcats’ ability to complete those plays was hit-or-miss for most of the day.

When the running game got going, however, it really got going:

The Wildcats ran the ball for over 300 yards on this game. Alex Barnes absolutely gashed the Bears, rushing for 250 yards total. If Kansas State can begin to form an offensive identity that more clearly features Barnes and Thompson, they might be able to progress through their next two or three games:

BAYLOR IS IMPROVED ON OFFENSE

The Bears are undeniably better this year on offense. Charlie Brewer is really the engine that makes this offense go, having thrown for over 296 yards and run in a touchdown against Kansas State.

Most impressive, though, is probably Brewer’s 68.2 completion percentage, a statistic that speaks to his accuracy.

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All of the running backs also had a good day against a shaky Kansas State defense. Baylor racked up 261 yards on the ground, 100 of which was the product of Trestan Ebner’s 5.9 yards per carry. JaMycal Hasty was highly effective as a change-of-pace, and Jalen Hurd is becoming a player that can always pick up tough yards when needed.

Speaking of Hurd, this was by far his best game. This was his third game of the season with over 100 yards receiving, and his development as a wideout is definitely beginning to throw. Denzel Mims also showed why he was put on so many preseason lists, especially with catches like this one:

KANSAS STATE IS PLAYING VERY UN-KANSAS STATE FOOTBALL

What’s most disturbing about the Wildcats’ poor showing in the first half of this season is the mistakes that they’re committing, many of which are uncharacteristic of other Bill Snyder-coached teams.

Sophomore Skylar Thompson threw two costly interceptions on the day, one of them into triple coverage. Those turnovers contributed to the three the Wildcats had all day, making them the second-worst team in the Big 12 in that category.

Special teams was also a problem throughout this game. Kansas State missed the only field goal they attempted on the day, and junior Nick McLellan had a PAT blocked. In a game that was decided by three points, those kicks could have made all the difference.

Isaiah Zuber had a rough as a returner. Up 14-12 coming out of halftime, Kansas State looked poised to add to their lead since they got the ball back in the third quarter. Zuber would fumble on the opening kickoff of the half, however, setting up an easy Baylor touchdown.

Early in the fourth quarter, Zuber almost made another such mistake, bobbling a punt return before falling on it.

These may seem like small issues, and most people would point out that Baylor – a team that missed three of the six field goals it attempted – actually had a rough day on special teams as well. Not to mention, the Bears turned it over twice in this game.

Those are exactly the kind of mistakes we’ve come to expect other teams to make against the Wildcats, and it’s usually Snyder’s team that exploits those mistakes. By taking care of the little things, most of his teams have managed to win more than they lose, even in down years.

There must be something in the water in Manhattan, though, that is making this 2018 squad so mistake-prone.

THIS WAS NOT CONNOR MARTIN’S DAY…UNTIL IT WAS

Credit Matt Rhule for sticking with kicker Connor Martin, who nailed the game winner. Before that, Martin had only made two of his five field goals and missed a PAT.

Martin is normally a reliable kicker, and one of the best in the Big 12. Saturday was just not his day, however, as he had issues angling kicks too far to one side, causing a couple to actually hit the upright.

At the end of the day, though, he was sure-footed when it counted:

BOTH OF THESE TEAMS HAVE DEFENSIVE QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

From a defensive standpoint, this was a really sloppy game all around. Certainly, the offenses for both teams played hard in this one and made plays to get things done.

The tackling in this game was atrocious, though. There were poor angles taken and just an apparent lack of understanding from both teams of how to execute a tackle in football.

Here is an example:

And that’s not to pick on any single player from Kansas State, because the Bears had their issues as well. Together, these defenses gave up 570 total yards on the ground. If you are the defensive coordinator for either of these squads, you are not happy going into next week.

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