Bill Snyder said he was not pleased with how his team defended the quarterback scramble after their 55-16 victory over Stephen F. Austin Saturday.
Even three days later at his weekly Tuesday press conference, the 74-year-old was as blunt as can be.
“It was as bad as I thought,” Snyder said.
Stephen F. Austin sophomore quarterback Zach Conque busted open the K-State defense for a 32-yard run in the second quarter. Junior quarterback Joe Minden followed with a score from 18 yards out on a broken play.
It was not just the quarterback scramble that hurt K-State. Senior running back Gus Johnson bolted for a 30-yard touchdown late in the third quarter. Junior wide receiver Aaron Thomas and sophomore wide receiver Robert Sylvester both hauled in catches of 30-plus yards a piece.
See the trend?
While the K-State defense held Stephen F. Austin to just 16 points and under 300 yards of total offense, the big play was an early achilles heel that the Wildcats will have to address prior to facing Iowa State Saturday in Ames, and Auburn at home on Sept. 18.
“As a defense, as a whole, I think we played well early on,” junior cornerback Morgan Burns said. “We had a few issues with the quarterback scramble and they had a few big plays. Me, personally, I had a deep ball thrown on me and missed a few tackles. Part of it was just first game jitters and working them out. I have a lot to improve on and I always want to get better.”
Snyder was not completely displeased with his defense Saturday, but he did note that consistency will be a key moving forward.
“Well, overall it was a passing grade,” Snyder said. “There are still, which is true on both sides of the ball, an awful lot of mistakes to get corrected. There are a lot of things that you have concerns about. I thought we played well, and maybe the best way to put it is perhaps not quite as consistent as you would like to be.”
Burns said that the defensive adjustments are not challenging, adding that the defense is already anxious to show improvement from week one.
“A lot of it is just being disciplined, staying in our lanes and containing the quarterback,” Burns said. “We will be preparing for that this week because the quarterback for Iowa State can run.”
Senior linebacker Jonathan Truman also pointed out redshirt junior quarterback Sam Richardson as a potential threat, but was quick to praise the entire Cyclones offense.
“They are talented at about every position,” Truman said. “They have a lot of returning guys on the offensive line who are tough-minded, hard-nosed guys who love to compete. They have two good running backs that change it up. Their quarterback can throw it up in the air and he is also shown that he bring it down and run. They have a bunch of wide receivers they can throw in there and keep them fresh. Their offense is very talented and we can see a lot from them.”
With the early Big 12 schedule and mid-week battle against Auburn, the defense has been forced to improve at an accelerated pace. If the big-play is to be addressed, it will need to show Saturday.
“I think it has caused us to improve really quick,” Burns said. A lot of people say from the first to the second week is the biggest jump for most college football teams. I think for a lot of the young guys including myself, since I’m young on the field, we have to grow up quick, learn from our mistakes, and mature quickly.”