The Hangover: A closer look at the Wildcats’ win over Stanford

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(Illustration by Sarah Unruh | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State put it all together in its 24-7 season-opening win over the Stanford Cardinal at the Allstate Kickoff Classic in Arlington, Texas.

The Wildcats dominated both sides of the ball, outgaining the Cardinal 344-233. The offense put together an efficient 10.3 yards per pass attempt, 6.5 yards per rush attempt and .53 points per offensive play.

Meanwhile, the defense got into Stanford’s backfield and wreaked havoc for both quarterbacks to the tune of four sacks and eight tackles for loss.

KEY MATCH-UPS:

In the weekly Know Your Opponent preview, I identified three key match-ups for K-State. Let’s look back and see how well K-State did in those spots.

Three-headed monster:

Deuce Vaughn, Jacardia Wright and Joe Ervin all saw the field, with Vaughn getting the lions’ share of the touches, yards and the lone touchdown from the running back position.

The Wildcats also turned to Skylar Thompson, who ran from the quarterback position and gave the ball to wide receiver Malik Knowles on outside runs to stretch the defense. K-State ran for 200 yards and 3 TDs despite only one head of the three-headed monster showing up.

K-State’s secondary:

The Wildcat secondary was a key part of K-State’s success on Saturday. TJ Smith and Russ Yeast had a pair of interceptions, and Reggie Stubblefield had a key third-down pass breakup during the game.

Yeast’s interception stonewalled a Stanford drive into Wildcat territory at the end of the first half, and Smith returned his pick to the Cardinal 20, setting up an easy two-play touchdown drive for the K-State offense.

West Coast:

This key match-up focused on the uncertainty at quarterback for Stanford, which I thought might make or break the game. Starter Jack West struggled, but sophomore rotation quarterback Tanner McKee wound up having a strong game.

The K-State defense had a field day with Stanford’s offense, using aggressive blitzing and sure tackling to neutralize McKee’s 15/18 passes for just 118 yards and a garbage-time touchdown.

I initially predicted a 31-28 win on K-State running the ball. The Wildcat defense made sure K-State did not need to score that many points, but they probably could have if not for some self-inflicted first-game wounds.

POSITION GROUP OF THE GAME

How could it not be the K-State defensive line? They set the tone early when defensive end Bronson Massie shot upfield to force the Stanford running back to cut back into the teeth of the K-State defense.

The big nasties upfront bullied Stanford’s offensive line from a four-man front and a new-look three-man front. They generated pressure on key downs with three rushers so K-State could drop eight into pass coverage.

Next for the Wildcats is a home date with the Southern Illinois Salukis at 6 p.m. on Sept. 11 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

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Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, a graduate student from Olathe, Kansas, working on a Masters in Mass Communication. I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. This is my fourth year covering K-State sports for the Collegian.