After a lackluster start to Big 12 play, the Kansas State football team appears to have finally found a spark after defeating Oklahoma State, 31-12 on Saturday.
Earlier in the week, senior offensive lineman Dalton Risner held a players-only meeting to “get everything out there.” The meeting seemed to come at the right time, considering the Wildcats came into Saturday’s game 0-3 in Big 12 play, tied for last with the University of Kansas.
“That definitely gelled the team together pretty well,” freshman defensive end Wyatt Hubert said of the players-only meeting. “We played for each other today and that felt good.”
In the early portion of the second quarter, senior defensive back Duke Shelley had an impressive interception in the end zone, keeping the Cowboys and the Wildcats even at 3-3.
Head coach Bill Snyder seemed to be happy with Shelley’s performance, saying that he liked the confidence that Shelley played with.
While the Cowboys would go on to score another field goal to take the 6-3 lead at the half, the K-State defense gave up just six more points in the second half. The game being close at halftime can be credited to the strong defense and improvements on tackling.
Saturday was one of the best defensive showings from the Wildcats all year. At the end of the first half, the Cowboys only had 170 offensive yards, compared to K-State’s 151 offensive yards.
All in all, K-State gave up 311 yards of offense, a far cry from the 557 yards it surrendered to Baylor just one week ago.
“We’re getting better every single week,” Hubert said. “We’re definitely fixing the things that we’re struggling with and those things are starting to fade away, which is a good thing.”
The second half of the game is when the magic really began to happen. The Wildcat offense stepped up and matched the caliber of the defense, showing its ability to do big things for the second straight week.
The offensive duo of junior running back Alex Barnes and sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson made the Wildcat offense come to life.
In last week’s game, Barnes collected 250 yards and three touchdowns in the running game, while Thompson collected 149 yards and one touchdown passing, along with 50 yards and one touchdown rushing.
This week, Barnes collected 232 yards —181 rushing, 51 receiving— for four touchdowns, all on the ground. Thompson earned 210 yards—130 passing and 80 rushing.
After scoring seven touchdowns in the last two games combined, Barnes said that the game is becoming more fun for him.
“It’s a lot of fun, football is a lot more fun when you are successful,” Barnes said after Saturday’s games. “We really struggled during the early parts of the season, but we are finally getting the train on track and getting everything rolling.”
With a bye next week, the Wildcats will have time to continue working on tackling and the passing offense before taking on Oklahoma in their next game on October 27th in Norman, Oklahoma.