It has been an odd year for Bill Snyder’s Kansas State Wildcats, who sit at 2-2 heading into Saturday’s matchup against Texas. The Kansas State offense has been embarrassed by the two most competitive teams on their schedule so far — Mississippi State and West Virginia. The Wildcats have been unable to move the ball or put points up on the board. Things are so bad that Snyder called out his players after last Saturday’s loss to West Virginia. Despite all the struggles, the Wildcats seem to always play their best game when Texas comes to town. The Longhorns have not won in Manhattan since 2002, so the opportunity is there for the taking as Texas looks to start 2-0 in Big 12 play. Let’s take a look at the Kansas State offense:
The Wildcats entered fall camp with two capable quarterbacks in Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton. Thompson ultimately got the starting nod the first 4 games of the season, but that will change on Saturday. It is expected that Delton will take over and try to spark an offense that mustered only 6 points against West Virginia last weekend. Delton is no stranger to Texas players or fans. The junior ran for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns in relief of Jesse Ertz in Austin a year ago. His running ability gave Texas fits, but his ability as a passer leaves a lot to be desired. In 31 pass attempts so far in 2018, Delton is completing 48.4% of his passes for 1 touchdown and a pair of interceptions.
Long-time offensive coordinator Dana Dimel is now the head coach at UTEP, so Kansas State has been breaking in new play-caller Andre Coleman. The Wildcats offensive philosophy has remained largely intact. They love the QB run and will test defenses heavily on their ability to fill gaps and play assignment football.
Alex Barnes handles the majority of the work at running back. Barnes is in his second year as the full time starter after rushing for over 800 yards and 7 touchdowns last season. Through 4 games in 2018, Barnes has totaled 277 yards on the ground and 1 touchdown. His running style is reflective to the Kansas State style of play: patient, methodical and solid between the tackles.
If Kansas State chooses to test Texas through the air, it will almost assuredly be to Dalton Schoen or Isaiah Zuber. Schoen torched Texas for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns in last year’s matchup in Austin and gave the Longhorns a defense a lot of trouble out of the slot. Zuber leads the team in receptions so far this season with 24 and was the go-to target for Skylar Thompson. He has very good hands and the offensive staff for Kansas State does an excellent job of getting him mismatches. With an increased emphasis being put on the quarterback run game, Schoen will see a lot more targets in the short passing game.
Despite returning all 5 starters from 2017, the Wildcats have allowed 15 sacks through 4 games, good enough for 125th amongst FBS teams. Tackles Dalton Risner and Scott Frantz are NFL caliber players, but the unit has a whole has been downright awful. Bill Snyder’s decision to make quarterback change is his attempt to try to spark the entire offense. Delton’s ability as a runner should help an offensive line that is struggling to win the battle in the trenches.
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