K-State ended its nonconference slate on Saturday with a 37-7 drubbing of the UMass Minutemen. Senior running back John Hubert returned to prime form in the game, rushing for 118 yards and hauling in another 50 receiving.
Senior running back Robert Rose also had a breakout game, racking up 39 yards on just five carries, including a 26 yard touchdown run.
“Ever since North Dakota State, we did not do too good with the run so we kind of took that personal and kind of made it our business to be effective with our ground game because at K-State, that is what we do, we run the ball,” Rose said.
Head coach Bill Snyder said after the game that it was because of his team’s offensive line that the Wildcats were able to rack up 329 yards rushing as a team, a season high by nearly 200 yards.
“John [Hubert] and Robert [Rose] both ran the ball well,” Snyder said. “There was more balance in it. But at the end of the day, if the five guys up front are blocking then you will get some yardage in the run game. If not, then it doesn’t matter who has got it.”
Against UMass, the Wildcats saw the most improvement on the offensive side of the ball. Not only did the running game finally get going for the first time this season, but the now famous two-quarterback system of junior Jake Waters and sophomore Daniel Sams continued to develop.
The two quarterbacks combined for 127 yards passing and two touchdowns on just 12 pass attempts. Waters was the primary passer, completing 5-of-10 attempts for 115 yards and both scores.
Both quarterbacks also proficiently ran the ball. Sams had 77 yards rushing on 11 attempts while Waters showed a good ability to scramble out of trouble, picking up 74 yards on nine carries.
Snyder said that having that balanced attack is a goal of his team.
“You want to go into it with a mindset that you want to be balanced,” Snyder said. “Defenses usually dictate the direction that you move, and that was true tonight. We had some opportunities after the first drive to have some success running the ball. Part of that came from that we completed some passes anyway.”
Sams said that he likes the direction of the two-quarterback system.
“I like the way it is going right now. We both get more time in there,” Sams said. “We get to find our confidence and just let the game come to us.”
Waters said that Snyder has a good grasp of when to either plug-in Sams or himself in as quarterback.
“He has been pushing all of the right buttons so far with us,” Waters said. “We are ready every play whether he is calling my number or Daniel’s number. Coach Snyder knows what it takes to win and we are all for it. I am cheering for Daniel when he is out there and he is cheering for me, so it is good and it is working so far.”
Defensively, the Wildcats saw senior cornerback Kip Daily take a huge stride against the Minutemen. Daily had two interceptions on the night and took one of them back for a touchdown.
Daily said that his progress as a player has been a steady process this season.
“I feel like it is going pretty good. I am just trying to get better every week,” Daily said. “I really cannot speak on it too much because we are only three games into the season. I am just trying to get better right now.”
The Wildcats will take on University of Texas next on their schedule on Saturday in Austin at 7 p.m. The Longhorns are reeling from two straight losses, so their head coach Mack Brown is sure to have his players fired up.
Waters said that he, along with the rest of the team, will have to continue to improve at adjusting to the defenses they’re facing.
“The defenses are just a lot better from top to bottom,” Waters. “You have got your pick of who you want to throw to in JuCo but here you cannot force stuff and you cannot make a play every single time. I am learning that I cannot force anything and sometimes you have to take a throwaway. For the most part, it is just the speed and the quality of the players.”