Room for improvement in the red zone

Jack Cantele, senior kicker, watches his kick go wide of the uprights on the point after attempt at the K-State vs. UTEP football game on Sept. 27, 2014 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (File Photo by Emily DeShazer | The Collegian)

The last time K-State held their first two opponents of the season to under three points was 1936.

This Saturday, K-State’s defense will be tested by Louisiana Tech’s offense, led by quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Driskel leads the nation in single game quarterback efficiency. As if that’s not enough, the defense will also have to keep an eye on running back Kenneth Dixon, the nation’s active career rushing leader.

Coach Bill Snyder said in a press conference Tuesday that he has been pleased with the progress of the defense but still believes there is more to offer.

“It gets tougher, tougher and tougher now,” Snyder said. “Here is a team that has over 1,100 yards of total offense in two games, and they can throw it in. I think before we pass judgment, we want to see how we play right now.”

Snyder said his concern is the performance of the offense in the red zone. K-State is 10-of-11 in red zone scores but has only scored five touchdowns in the red zone this season.

Junior quarterback Joe Hubener said he believes that one element the offense must improve on is discipline.

“Traditionally we haven’t been a team that’s hurt ourselves,” Hubener said at the press conference. “That’s what we’ve done through the first two games.”

Hubener added how frustrating it was to drive the ball down the field and then have to settle for three points instead of six.

“We’ve shown that we can move the ball,” he said. “We’ve just got to finish on it.”

Snyder said he agrees that penalties in the red zone have been forcing the team to kick a field goal as opposed to scoring a touchdown and getting the extra point.

“We’re just taking points off the board that way,” Snyder said.

Last game after sophomore place kicker Matthew McCrane was injured, senior place kicker Jack Cantele took over. Cantele went 3-for-3 on field goals and 2-for-2 on extra points kicked. Cantele said while kicks in the red zone are easier, that’s not the main concern.

“We want to put the ball into the end zone,” Cantele said. “We’re not thinking about the kicks we’re going to get. We’re thinking about what the final score’s going to be. Not every game is going to be 30-3.”

Junior linebacker Will Davis said he is ready to back up the offense as it continues to improve. He said the defense and offense feed off of each other during the game and that a scoring play can cause a big swing in momentum.

“We’ve got to go out there and make another stop,” Davis said at the press conference. “That’s what we say anytime the offense scores or makes a field goal.”

Hubener said he is ready to build on the offense.

“There is a lot of football left to play,” he said. “We’ve just got to continue to improve every day at practice and put it all together when game time comes.”