Passing game coming of age
Passing game coming of age Questions about Dylan Meier answered
By Herbie Teope
The Wildcats (2-2) didn't leave College Station, Texas empty handed despite their conference opener loss against Texas A&M (3-1). On the contrary, the team left Texas knowing they had a passing game, and more importantly, a quarterback to lead them the rest of the season.
The questions surrounding the Kansas State offense were answered when sophomore quarterback Dylan Meier completed 29-of-45 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns against two interceptions in the 42-30 loss. Showing off his versatility and mobility, Meier added 62 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
Moreover, Meier's leadership was on display to a national television audience during the team's attempted fourth quarter comeback. Down 35-17, Meier led two scoring drives to cut the lead to 35-30 before Texas A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal's 62-yard touchdown run sealed the deal for the Aggies with :48 remaining in the game.
"I think Dylan matured a great deal and made some positive choices and decisions during that particular point in time," head coach Bill Snyder said about his quarterback during Tuesday's press conference.
Meier effectively spread the ball and connected with eight different receivers throughout Saturday night. His favorite target down the stretch was sophomore wide receiver Jermaine Moreira, who caught two touchdown passes finishing the game with five catches for 32 yards.
"Jermaine played well in the ballgame, and we've known all along that Jermaine has the capabilities that would allow him to do some of those things," said Snyder. "His inconsistency is probably what has held him back more than anything else. He put himself in the position to have the opportunity, and consequently it was fruitful."
Senior running back Darren Sproles led all receivers in receptions with six. Sophomore wide receiver Yamon Figurs contributed five catches for 50 yards.
"I just try to get the ball to whoever is open and let them make plays," Meier said about his receivers. "If I get the ball to only one receiver and we win, I'm happy. Distributing the ball around is nice, but getting the win is most important and we didn't accomplish that."
While Meier's performance Saturday night surprised many around the country, senior tight end Brian Casey, who caught three passes for 37 yards, has nothing but support for his quarterback.
"I wasn't surprised at all," Casey explained. "I knew he could do it, he just hadn't had the opportunity to do it because we hadn't thrown that many passes in the games before that. In practice he does it all the time. He had a couple of wrong checks, but he'll make those corrections and do better this week."
The success of the passing game should provide the offensive balance that was missing the first three games, which featured a heavy dose of Sproles, who rushed for 66 yards on 20 carries but lost two fumbles against the Aggies.
Even with the lost fumbles, Sndyer ensured Tuesday that everyone knew that the offense will continue to run through his star running back.
"The answer presently is no," Snyder emphatically answered when asked if he would take some of the responsibility away from Sproles. "My decision is not to. My decision is based on what Darren has done in the past and what we believe his capabilities are."
Keeping Sproles as the main focus of the offense is a strategy that makes perfect sense. Moreover, Sproles will continue to be heavily involved because of his versatility out of the backfield.
Should opposing defenses contain the vaunted Kansas State running game, they must now account for a passing game that put the rest of the Big 12 Conference on notice it has arrived.
"I think we took a step in the right direction," said Meier. "It wasn't great because we didn't get the win, and that's the most important thing right now."
The Wildcats look to continue that step, and get back on the winning track on Oct. 9 when they travel to Lawrence to face in-state rival Kansas (2-3).
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