K-State football: “Delay of Game – Offense”

No. 8 Stanford Cardinal 26, Kansas State Wildcats 13.

The first-blush takeaway was that K-State did itself proud in Palo Alto. While not good enough to win — there simply wasn’t enough consistency from the quarterback position to overcome an early deficit — the defense’s performance in the second half had me thinking this team could wind up with nine wins if some things went right.*Coach_Bill_Snyder

*Actually, before the game, I told Danny Parkins and Carrington Harrison over at 610 Sports KCSP I thought if everything went right, K-State might even win 10. Chalk one up to over-optimism. It happens.*

Speaking of what went right, despite 26 points on the board, let’s start with that defense.

Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey broke loose twice for big runs, and Duke Shelley got burned on a long touchdown pass, but all in all, Dante Barnett, Jordan Willis, and friends were better than good for much of that ballgame.

Barnett was a sight for sore eyes — repeatedly assassinating running plays from his safety position. It will  be interesting to see how fast Big 12 offensive coordinators try to exploit Barnett’s dominant run-support mindset, but if they can’t or don’t, we may be watching an All-America campaign.

Willis and the defensive line showed impressive assignment discipline and consistency for it being the first game of the season. It led to a pretty solid showing in slowing McCaffrey, even if Superman finally won in the end.

Now, as for what didn’t go right.

“Delay of Game – Offense”

For the love of God — and, I know I’m asking an old-dog program to learn a new trick — why can’t this coaching staff figure out play clock management?

A lot can happen in 40 seconds – full meals can be warmed up; a Jamaican (or South African) can run nearly a quarter-mile; pregnancy (okay, that one is actually 30 min., but a risky decision takes far less time). So, why can’t a team of coaches assigned to coordinating plays avoid test anxiety and not repeatedly fail to answer in time, especially in inexplicable situations, like, say, in the red zone or after new quarter just began?

FOX Sports color analyst Joel Klatt said it best during Friday’s broadcast: When more than one quarterback has an issue getting the ball snapped on time, that’s not a quarterback issue; it’s a program failure. And, if you listened hard enough right after, you could almost hear a collective “amen” from the K-State congregation.

Here’s hoping, against all historic evidence and logic, things improve on this front as the season goes forward.

Byron Pringle/passing game

Up front, it’s unfair to pin a multi-person process on one player. But, there was a lot of hype on K-State’s shiniest new weapon heading into Stanford, and the result was disappointing. Pringle was targeted 10 times (by my count) and finished with one catch for 14 yards.

Is Stanford’s experienced defense great? Yep. Did K-State’s young, overmatched offensive line give up eight sacks? Yessir. Did KSU’s QBs — Jesse Ertz and Joe Hubener — struggle because of average protection, plus the fact they just aren’t that great of passers in general? Indeed, if you believe, like I do, what you read out of 19-of-41, for 243 yards, 1 TD and 2 INT.

So yeah, it’s not all on Pringle. A few passes were realistically uncatchable and others forced when they shouldn’t have gone his direction. But, one catch isn’t awesome. Still, the emergence of Isaiah Zuber should help loosen things up against defenses not named Stanford.

Alright, time to put the whip away for a bit. In all, K-State was competitive, trailing 19-13 with 2:20 remaining, and judging by reactions afterward, had K-State been ranked No. 15 going into that game, nobody would have blinked at it based on how things played out.

It’s a start. Not a fantastic one, granted, but if K-State plays at that level all season, eight wins seems well within reach.

Crowdsourcing: What K-State fans hope to see against Stanford

The Kansas State Wildcats open the 2016 season on the road against AP No. 8 Stanford on Friday. With good experience (and talent) returning defensively but questions at quarterback and on a new-look offensive line, it’s hard to say, exactly, what the expectation is regarding performance.*Coach_Bill_Snyder

*Unless you are a disciple of K-State’s 16 Goals For Success, of course, and choose to live by No. 13: “Expect to win.” For the sake of the rest of this piece, though, let’s leave that perfectly reasonable thought to the side for now.

K-State head coach Bill Snyder shared his thoughts with the media on Tuesday.

“Stanford is a great challenge, and our players are excited about playing the game, that’s a positive thing,” Snyder said.

As for his made-over young o-line?

“They will probably see the brunt of Stanford’s defense and movements and all that goes along with it,” Snyder said. “They’re drilling diligently on that right now and they’ve went through spring practice well. They’ve earned the right to be there.

“They don’t have the experience that you’d like, but they’ve had a significant amount of practice experience. So we’re doing the kind of work that we need to be doing and the practice with the environment and how we organize it. I think there will be some carry over for them into the ballgame.”

Snyder also laid out his thoughts on Stanford’s Heisman hopeful, running back Christian McCaffrey.

“I have not met him personally, but I like the way he conducts himself. I would say the hidden ingredient is his leadership on that team in a very humble fashion,” Snyder said. “I just like that nature of his character.

“Aside from that, on the football field, it’s just being able to identify where he is and why he’s there becomes important. He can line up in a lot of different positions and not get baited out of position because of where his linemen are.

“[Our players] have to understand what he can, but also equally important, what he can’t do from certain positions. He can be a deceptive runner, he can be a powerful runner, and obviously he’s got a good deal of speed. We have to be great on our cover units – our punt units and kickoff units – because he offers those things on the return units as he does in their offense.”

Outside of the team, as anyone would in today’s day and age, I asked Twitter what it expects.

“Competitive, with McCaffrey being the X-factor. K-State matches up well otherwise.” – @bclaymoore

“Think KSU defense can keep it close just not sure about how efficient KSU’s offense will be, too many unknowns.” – @jswabash

“Expect a competitive game but not a W.” – @bmalcolm88

“I like our team but I think we’ll struggle to stay in the game. Close at half but we fall 31-13.” – @MultiTodd

“Snyder Goal #13” – @MichaelKBerges

“To be competent and keep things close, IMO.” – @roh_tweets

“Get pressure with DL, keep McCaffrey contained and make someone else beat us, >55% completion rate, and competent OL play.” – @Tye_KC

And, finally, my current favorite …

“K-State 98, Stanford 2” – @Schmidtburgh