Grading the game: freshman kicker gives a needed edge

(Parker Robb | The Collegian)

Offense: B-

This running game was not good, simple as that. There was one yard, just one lonely yard on the ground for the Wildcats. This is especially bad seeing that this Mountaineer defense was ranked eighth in the conference in rushing defense, allowing 181.5 yards coming into the game.

The top two running backs for the Wildcats, sophomore Charles Jones and senior DeMarcus Robinson, combined for -3 yards. This two-headed monster for the Wildcats have been a solid force for the team. With the struggles of these two, you would expect for senior quarterback Jake Waters to pick up the slack on the ground, but he had just 13 yards.

With 400 passing yards, Waters was the saving grace for the struggling Wildcat offense. This career high for Waters was the reason why an otherwise sloppy K-State offense was able to get along. The groove he got into was phenomenal, being able to thread the ball into holes that seemed impossible.

Now, not all the glory can be shined upon Waters. Senior receiver Tyler Lockett might be even more deserving than his quarterback. On the night, Lockett matched his season-high performance, which was a mark that he notched just last game. Lockett may be going into the best stretch of his season and it is coming at just the right time.

When you can’t capitalize when you get close to the end zone, bad things can happen. It is a given that no team wants to see their place kicker on the field unless it’s after a touchdown. For the Wildcats, they saw their kicker way too often, but more on that later.

Defense: B-

The defense had a very sound game until the second half. It seemed that late in the game the defense was flustered against the Mountaineers backup quarterback, sophomore Skyler Howard.

Howard came into the game and had instant momentum against an experience team and ended the game with 198 yards and two touchdowns in very limited minutes. He was the sole reason why the Mountaineers clawed their way back into the game. The defense could not handle the Howard-led unit in the second half.

Luckily, they seemed to close the door on the Mountaineers to start the game. The quick corners and solid safeties got into the head of senior Clint Trickett, forcing two interceptions and barely letting him get any form of momentum. This defense was so good that the Mountaineer offense was on the verge of a meltdown before the staff pulled Trickett with an injury.

K-State finished the night forcing four turnovers, two through the air and another two on the ground. They seemed hungry, which made life plenty hard for West Virginia’s offense.

Special Teams: A

Special teams once again played a significant role in the Wildcats’ win, but it was almost their downfall. Lockett again showed why he is the biggest weapon in the arsenal. He is not only a threat on offense, but he makes teams fear him in the return game.

Lockett had a 43-yard punt return in the second quarter, which served as the last touchdown for his team. Lockett is known to be one of the deadliest returners in college football, which leads to the question of why people still kick to him.

Let’s come back to the slight negative. K-State’s field-goal kicking has been consistent since the Auburn game earlier this season. However against the Mountaineers, freshman kicker Matthew McCrane missed a chip-shot field goal. It can also be blamed by the good jump that the West Virginia defensive line got during the kick.

It’s hard to fault this unit too much since they scored more points (12) than the entire offense could. Now that’s some good production.