INSIDE SLANTMaybe Carson Coffman can play a little. Enough to keep Kansas State from ever considering a replacement for its starting quarterback, or feeling uneasy about an in-state showdown against Kansas.
Coffman, whose ineffectiveness as a passer led to backups Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur playing in a lopsided loss against Nebraska, went 15-for-16 through the air and accounted for five touchdowns as the Wildcats righted themselves with a 59-7 rout of the Jayhawks.
The only incompletion was actually a drop by Tramaine Thompson. It came with Kansas State still clinging to a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, but Coffman finished with 10 straight completions as the Wildcats scored 28 second-quarter points to take command. The only score they allowed came with 2:06 remaining.
With the win, Kansas State climbed within one win of bowl eligibility at 5-1. By improving to 2-1 in the Big 12, the Wildcats removed the sting of the Nebraska loss and re-established themselves as at least a potential spoiler within the conference.
"I'm confident that we have a group of young guys that can play well on both offense and defense," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "The important thing is they grow into that expectation. Sometimes a variety of different emotions take over and allow you to be more inspired to do certain things."
Coffman, for example, came in as an efficient passer, but he had not established himself as a dependable leader. Against Kansas, however, he simply took over after Snyder crafted a game plan designed to capitalize on the Jayhawks' inability to rush the quarterback or cover receivers.
It kept the Wildcats from relying as heavily on workhorse running back Daniel Thomas, who still managed 91 yards but got a significant amount of his carries after Coffman iced the outcome with his arm.
Whether the performance adds more dimension to the Wildcats' offense remains to be seen. Protection is essential if the immobile Coffman is to build on the performance at Kansas. Rest assured, however, that Snyder will account for all variables after doing a remarkable job regrouping, and remaking, his team.
"It speaks volumes for this coaching staff," center Wade Weibert said, "to be able to get waxed like we did against Nebraska and then come out (against Kansas) and play well. It says we're tough, we're pretty resilient and we're pretty coachable."
NOTES, QUOTES--Kansas State now has two playmakers wearing No. 8. Fans grew accustomed to RB Daniel Thomas making big plays after he enjoyed 100-yard rushing performances each of the first three weeks. He still managed 91 yards against Kansas, with one touchdown, though another Wildcat wearing No. 8, CB Stephen Harrison also scored on an 85-yard fumble return. Harrison added an interception to account for two of Kansas State's three takeaways.
--With his performance, Thomas became the seventh Kansas State back to crack the 2,000-yard mark during his career. All of those rushers except for Isaac Jackson (1971-73) played for coach Bill Snyder, who is in his 19th season.
--The win at Kansas was the first for the Wildcats since 2002. Each time they opposed a new Kansas coach, handing Turner Gill a 59-7 defeat in 2010 and Mark Mangino a 64-0 loss in 2002.
--The game in Lawrence was not sold out, and Kansas State fans contributed to the empty seats. Kansas State did not take all of the 3,800 tickets road teams that are allotted to Big 12 games. Those tickets cost $90 apiece, and some Kansas State fans found cheaper tickets through other sources.
GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Carson Coffman -- Maligned through much of the first half of the season for his inability to move the Wildcats through the air, Coffman went 15 of 16 for 184 yards and two touchdowns against Kansas. His efficiency rating was 231.6, with the only incompletion coming on a dropped ball. Coffman added 42 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
KEEP AN EYE ON: LB Jarell Childs -- The converted running back was moved to defense during spring drills and is becoming a valuable performer who covers the field well. The sophomore led the Wildcats with 15 tackles against Kansas, including nine unassisted stops. The count was one more than Childs' season total of 14 tackles coming into the game.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We made a lot of mistakes in the Nebraska game. We were just outplayed in that game. Coach (Bill) Snyder says the sun will come up again, and the next day it did. We were able to come out and play football again." -- Kansas State WR Aubrey Quarles.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNELLOOKING GOOD: Kansas State excelled in all phases against Kansas, and props understandably go to QB Carson Coffman, who accounted for five touchdowns. But the defense was equally good, clinging to a shutout until just 2:06 remained in the 59-7 romp. Although Kansas effectively moved the ball at times with some short passes, as well as decent gains from RB Angus Quigley, the Wildcats stiffened in the red zone and also produced three turnovers. A fumble return by CB Stephen Harrison went 85 yards for a touchdown, while another fumble return by S Ty Zimmerman was returned 24 yards to the Kansas 25-yard line and set up the Wildcats' second touchdown. Kansas State also recorded three sacks, including two by blitzing nickel back David Garrett.
STILL NEEDS WORK: The defensive staff will undoubtedly review whatever cracks existed, which permitted Kansas to total 331 yards of offense. That's not a huge sum by Big 12 standards, and it reflects the Wildcats' tendency to bend but not break in the games they've won. Still, after Nebraska ran wild while handing Kansas State a 48-13 defeat, the coaches will do anything to point out flaws that make the Wildcats vulnerable. Finding ways to combat speed remains an issue for that unit, though the secondary certainly regained some confidence by making so many big plays.
ROSTER REPORT:--WR Tramaine Thompson was shaken up in the third quarter after a vicious hit that drew a penalty against Kansas for helmet-to-helmet contact.
--DE Brandon Harold limped off early in the game after getting clipped, but returned later in the first quarter.
--QB Collin Klein remains the second-stringer after the Wildcats used both Klein and QB Sammuel Lamur as backups in the Nebraska loss. Klein played in the fourth quarter against Kansas and ran 51 yards on an option keeper for Kansas State's last touchdown.