For the second straight week, UTSA plays the Wildcats. But unlike Arizona, the Kansas State Wildcats pose a more methodical approach.
2015 Record: 1-0, 34-0 Win vs South Dakota
2014 Record: 9-4, National Ranking No. 18
Non-Conference Warriors: K-State is 70-9 in regular-season non-conference games in the Bill Snyder Era. In 15 non-conference road games, the Wildcats are 9-6.
Returners/Loss: Starters Returning (O/D/S) 16 (6/6/4), Starters Lost (O/D/S) 11 (5/6/0)
Offensive Scheme: Pro-set
Defensive Scheme: Base 4 down/Multiple
Series History: First all-time meeting is Saturday.
Kansas State is replacing a record-setting QB and two 1,000-yard receivers from last season’s offense. Through the course of their spring and into the fall, the Wildcats had a legitimate QB competition. Sophomore Jesse Ertz won out the job late last week. But on the first play from scrimmage vs South Dakota last week, he injured his right knee and did not return to the game. On Monday, Coach Snyder announced that Junior backup Joe Hubener would make his first-career start. Hubener, who is was a former walk-on and the primary backup in 2014, played well vs FCS-South Dakota. He completed 9 of 18 passes for 147 yards a 1 touchdown. At 6’5” and 211lbs, Hubener showed good poise in the pocket and nice accuracy on some balls. While he Hubener doesn’t strike you as a dual-threat, he did leave the pocket 9 times vs SD racking up 38 yards. Backing up Hubener will be redshirt freshman Alex Delton. Another name to know at QB is sophomore Jonathan Banks. A four-star recruit out of Houston by way of Contra Costa JC, Banks is a dual-threat QB that requested to be redshirted this season.
Kansas State is the opposite of the up-tempo offenses UTSA is use to seeing in non-conference play. The Wildcats are much more methodical in their attack. Like UTSA, K-State will use multiple offensive sets. And while a lot of focus will be on the Wildcats’ QB, K-State will likely run more than they pass. Against South Dakota, Snyder’s offense ran 40 times to just 18 passes. The Wildcat rushing attacked is comprised of some very different types of backs. At tailback, K-State features two players: Junior Charles Jones is the starter with redshirt freshmen Justin Silomon backing him up. Jones, who is a speedy prototypical tailback, carried the ball 9 times for 39 yards last week. Silomon is a more shifty/physical back but amassed 51 yards on just 6 carries, including an 18 yard run where he made several defenders miss. The Wildcat offense also features a fullback at times. Starter Glenn Gronkowski had a relatively quiet day carrying the ball just twice for 18 yards. His backup redshirt freshman Winston Dimel had a huge day. At 6-1 and 235lbs Dimel was a bruiser for K-State. He rushed 8 times for 29 yards but was their go-to guy in short yardage situations. He scored two touchdowns vs South Dakota.
While the wide receiving corps didn’t put up big numbers, they did have a handful of game-changing plays. Dominique Heath, a redshirt freshman, was K-State’s leading receiver with three catches for 54 yards, including a long 43 yard reception. Mainstays Kody Cook and Deante Burton also caught a pair of passes including long balls of 35 and 24. Burton had the only receiving touchdown of the day. There were no pass completions to any RBs or TEs.
The biggest take away from watching K-State’s defense on film is their strength upfront. The Wildcats front seven are big and physical. Their defensive scheme works around that. Against South Dakota, the Wildcats’ defense gave up just 61 yards rushing on 36 carries, that’s an average of just 1.7 yards per rush attempt. Essentially, K-State shutdown the running game in their season-opener. Keep an eye out for DE Marquel Bryant and DT Travis Britz. Each had a handful of tackles, recorded big-time tackles for loss, and generally created havoc along the line of scrimmage. Also, LB Elijah Lee is going to be a handful. The 6’3”/218lb sophomore was flying around the field Saturday. He led K-State with six tackles but seemed like he was involved in many more plays than he was credited for.
One of the notes made watching the game live was that the secondary was “kind of porous.” But after reviewing the stats, many of South Dakota’s receptions were very short. Intermediary passing routes appear to give K-State a little trouble. They gave up 18 catches for 205 receiving yards to nine different receivers. The longest reception was just a 26 yarder that was more catch and run. While the Wildcat secondary is fairly young, they did defend the long-ball pretty well, although South Dakota didn’t really have time to attack because they were being constantly beat upfront.
One word: Dangerous. Not only did Kansas State return a kickoff for a touchdown, they nearly broke free on several other kick and punt returns. Their kickoff and punt coverages were also very stingy.