Reasons to hope and mope: Week 1

September 3, 20170 Comments

Kansas State return specialist D.J. Reed (2) runs for a 96-yard kickoff return. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Kansas State opened its season with a blowout win that featured plenty of things to feel good about, while still leaving fans nervous about a couple other aspects. Here’s a breakdown of both sides. To read about the game and watch the Powercat Gameday crew’s video wrap-up, click here.

REASONS TO HOPE

1. The reports of Jesse Ertz’s deep ball appear to be true.

Bill Snyder praised his quarterback during the summer, saying he was throwing the ball better than he’d ever seen Ertz throw it. The senior delivered on the hype Saturday night, passing for a career-high 333 yards and four touchdowns on just ten completions. The performance set a new school record for passing efficiency in a game.

Ertz didn’t put every throw on the money, but he clearly has very good chemistry with his athletic receivers. That bodes well for K-State’s chances to be a dynamic offense.

2. Isaiah Harris looks like the real deal.

Perhaps this one could be filed under “1B” along with Ertz, but I’ll give Harris his own listing. The kid can simply fly, as shown by his three catches for 118 yards last night.

Harris was praised throughout the offseason, and at K-State media day a few weeks ago, many players told us that fans should be on the lookout for him.

3. K-State is still ‘Special Teams U’.

What a debut for the Wildcats’ premiere units. D.J. Reed and Byron Pringle looked unstoppable on kick and punt returns. Big 12 coaches are very frustrated by how hard it is to beat K-State on special teams, and it looks like that will be the case again this season.

Unfortunately, it wouldn’t surprise me if almost every punt against K-State went out of bounds from now on, and every kickoff pooched up to the 35 yard line.

REASONS TO MOPE

1. The Wildcats’ new linebackers have a long way to go.

I mentioned this a lot last week, but UCA is not a bad team. Their offense was by far the most experienced unit on the field for either team last night. That said, K-State should have done a better job stopping the Bears’ offense, and the Wildcats struggled in the second level of their defense, giving up 4.1 yards per carry.

Bill Snyder joked that his team would practice defending the option at midnight. To me, the biggest issues appeared to be over-pursuit from some players, and lackluster speed from others. We’ll have to see if these things can be fixed before the schedule picks up.

2. The running game left something to be desired.

How many people expected Skylar Thompson to be K-State’s leading rusher last night? That’s what happened, as Thompson finished with 49 yards.

The holes weren’t big enough on the offensive line, and both Alex Barnes and Jesse Ertz just weren’t quite what we saw from them last season. I wouldn’t call this an alarming issue yet, but it’s something to monitor.

3. A few notable players were nowhere to be found last night.

Running back Justin Silmon, receiver Dominique Heath and quarterback Alex Delton didn’t play against UCA. After the game, Snyder was asked about Silmon in particular, and said he is likely to miss two games. Nothing is official regarding if the absences were due to suspensions or injuries, but neither would be ideal.

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