Five takeaways from slugfest loss against Missouri

Ben Sinnott catches a jump pass from Will Howard in the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter against Missouri, putting the Wildcats up 24-17 after the extra point. K-State fell to the Missouri Tigers 30-27 on Sept. 16 at Memorial Stadium/Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri. (Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Favored by less than a touchdown, the overwhelming majority gave the edge to Kansas State to take down Missouri. In a game featuring fantastic plays and poor ones as well, the Wildcats could not manage to pull away with the win.

Takeaway #1: Offensive line play needs to improve

The offensive line was thought of as the team’s strength in the offseason. Through three games, especially against Missouri, it has not lived up to expectations. Without right tackle Christian Duffie, the line struggled against the Tigers. 

Head coach Chris Klieman said the Tigers were blitzing heavily and it showed. Quarterback Will Howard was constantly under pressure and the run game was near ineffective at times. With many different five-man fronts, it could be expected for the unit to gain consistency moving around positions. As the year continues, the offensive line should and must improve.

Takeaway #2: Defensive weakness lies in the big play

The reason the defense struggled was not due to losing plays consistently. Four of the six Missouri drives saw the Tigers averaging more than 10 yards per play. This does not include the game-winning drive which was sprung by a 36-yard run. 

The defense starred on non-scoring drives. Missouri had 31 plays on drives without a score. Those seven drives mounted 57 total yards. Scoring 30 points with seven specific drives averaging less than two yards per carry is not conventional. K-State can not continue this play against the Big 12.

Takeaway #3: Ben Sinnott’s importance to the offense can’t be forgotten

The star tight end had two major drops, but he was still pivotal to the offense. The tight end caught five passes for two touchdowns and 78 yards. His role grew in the second half when he scored one touchdown and racked up the majority of his yards. Whether he stars or drops passes, the passing offense goes through him first.

Takeaway #4: Will Howard was hurt throughout the second half

Howard battled. It was clear he was suffering from a leg injury in the second half, and Klieman said this led to the extra usage of backup Avery Johnson in running plays. The injury will be something to look at for next week against UCF.

Takeaway #5: Starter or not, Avery Johnson has a role on the team

While the freshman may not start as long as Howard is healthy, he has a role on the team. Klieman said the plan was to always use him but it increased with Howard’s injury. Johnson saw snaps late and on crucial downs. The offense clearly trusts him and he will likely continue to be used as a runner to throw defenses off.