K-State’s passing offense struggles as Barnes’ running success continues

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Freshman running back Alex Barnes runs the ball during the football game between K-State and KU in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 26, 2016. (George Walker | The Collegian)

The Kansas State offense was the hot topic at head coach Bill Snyder’s press conference Tuesday. Here are two things that stood out:

1. Alex Barnes is the real deal.

Redshirt freshman running back Alex Barnes is the first K-State running back in three years with consecutive 100-yard rushing games. The kid is good.

Barnes is averaging more than 7 yards per carry. He is also K-State’s third-leading rusher despite seeing just 56 carries so far this season.

“(Barnes) is a little bit like Jordan (Willis),” Snyder said. “He is learning the value of extreme hard work and preparation and that is one element. The other element is physical capabilities. He can be physical and stay on his feet and he has good low-body strength.”

“I have seen all of those plays where (Barnes) dives at the pylon and that goes with the territory, but what impresses me is he gets hit again and again and stays on his feet and pushes the pile,” Snyder continued. “He gets those extra 2, 3 and 4 yards on snaps that a lot of guys will go down at that time. He makes a big difference.”

Barnes said everything has really come together down the stretch this season.

“I have always felt that I have the ability,” Barnes said. “It is just having everything come together, bringing together practice reps and getting game reps, too. It is just about getting more experience and being confident in myself to go out and perform.”

Barnes will have another opportunity to be successful Saturday against a TCU team that allows 168.8 yards per game on the ground. Snyder said Barnes should start against the Horned Frogs.

2. The passing offense is still struggling.

K-State has been maddeningly inconsistent through the air all season. At times, the Wildcats have thrown the ball efficiently and effectively and at times they haven’t been able to complete a pass if their life depended on it.

The deficiency hasn’t really affected the Cats in the win column lately because of their success on the ground. Snyder said the running game as well as junior quarterback Jesse Ertz’s inexperience and matchup problems have contributed to their passing struggles.

“If we have the capacity to run the football, then we will do that,” Snyder said. “There are some other things as well but initially, it was (Ertz’s) experience. Even though we said he was a returning starter, he really was not. It took time on the job for him, and I think he has made that improvement during a period of time.”

“Sometimes it is also the defense that does not match up and play well, so it is a combination of things,” Snyder continued. “Choosing not to has probably kept the overall numbers down. I am a little bit more interested in terms of numbers and the efficiency of our passing game. Those numbers are not where they should be, so there is work to do.”

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