Grading the Wildcats: West Virginia

Head football coach Bill Snyder walks along the sideline during the football game between Kansas State and Missouri State in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sept. 24, 2016. (File Photo by Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

We took a look back at the Wildcats’ 17-16 loss against West Virginia and decided to hand out some grades. I have a feeling head coach Bill Snyder will not be happy with the team’s report card.

Rushing offense: D

Senior running back Charles Jones was the Wildcats’ leading rusher with just 53 yards, with the Wildcats finishing 120 total yards on the ground. Part of this grade can be attributed to the offensive line’s inability to create holes. Numerous times there was nowhere for K-State running backs to go.

A 2.9 yard-per-carry average is bad no matter how you look at it, especially against a defense that had struggled to defend the run in its first three games. K-State needs to find a way to give the ball to sophomore running back Dalvin Warmack, who had a limited workload.

Passing offense: D+

Accuracy issues plagued junior quarterback Jesse Ertz all afternoon. Ertz was only 10 of 30 for 166 yards. Many deep balls were nowhere near their intended targets.

Again, a lot of this grade can be attributed to the offensive line. The Wildcats were simply overmatched and unable to pick up numerous Mountaineer blitzes, and many times Ertz was forced to throw the ball up quickly.

Sophomore wide receiver Byron Pringle also dropped a critical ball in the end zone that would’ve put the Cats up 20-3. Ertz was impressive on the final drive that led to their field goal attempt, though.

Rushing defense: A

The Mountaineers finished with 124 yards in 35 carries as the shifty junior running back Justin Crawford ran for 104 yards and a touchdown. The front seven were stout throughout most of the game. West Virginia never really got in a rhythm on the ground and never broke any long runs, the longest being 21 yards.

Passing defense: B+

Senior defensive end Jordan Willis was downright dominant at times on Saturday. He was constantly shrinking the pocket and forcing senior quarterback Skyler Howard to make hurried throws, along with his two sacks of the night. With the exception of sophomore defensive back D.J. Reed getting burned on the deep ball a few times, the pass defense was great.

Junior linebacker Elijah Lee and senior defensive back Dante Barnett were everywhere. Lee also made a great play on the interception. The defense was only shaky late when the players were tired from being on the field for the majority of the second half.

Special teams: B

Usually when a kicker makes three field goals he’s had a good day. Junior kicker Matthew McCrane, however, missed on the biggest kick of the day.

Special teams were still solid for most of the day. Pringle had a few big returns and West Virginia’s returns were limited. The Wildcats need to find someone who can kick the ball off without kicking it out of bounds, as it has become a habit lately.

Coaching: D

K-State’s big strength is usually coaching, yet Saturday was certainly an exception. Offensive play calls and changes from the sideline need to come faster. Countless times K-State was either called for a delay of game or was forced to use timeouts.

Play calling also needs to be better. In the second half, all the Wildcats had to do was drive down the field a little bit to run some clock, but they were simply unable to do so. Offensive coordinator Dana Dimel’s solution to West Virginia’s pass rush was to chuck the ball downfield before Ertz could get set and before a receiver could get separation downfield.

Overall: C

The Wildcats were solid defensively throughout most of the game. The offense is what did them in, they simply weren’t able to execute enough to win the game. K-State will need to figure out its offensive issues quickly if the Wildcats want to be a threat in the Big 12.

I am a senior in Journalism. I like sports and things.