A bye week analysis on the state of K-State football

Quarterback Will Howard celebrates a touchdown with center Hayden Gillum and the rest of the offensive line. The Wildcats defeated the UCF Golden Knights 44-31 on September 23 in UCF's first Big 12 game in both team's 2023 conference play opener. (Haylee Haslett | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State football has a week off following its 44-31 victory over UCF at home. A win is a win, but that does not mean there isn’t room to grow. This upcoming bye week allows the Wildcats to address a few things before heading to Oklahoma State to take on the Cowboys.  

Let’s get healthy 

One of the first things the Wildcats will certainly address is getting the team healthy. Injuries have been persistent with K-State. Quarterback Will Howard went into last Saturday’s game still feeling the effects of a leg injury suffered against Missouri. The game against UCF also saw two key players return from injury: right tackle Christian Duffie and linebacker Jake Clifton.

An extra week of rest could help bring all three players back to 100% and hopefully have them playing even better next game. Wide receiver RJ Garcia and running back Treshaun Ward are expected to make a return to practice sometime this week which could help the offense flourish evenly instead of heavily relying on the ability of DJ Giddens.  

The X’s and O’s 

The Wildcats also have a chance to address some things in the film room. The past two games have seen the Wildcat defense allow 30 or more points. Looking ahead to the matchup against Oklahoma State, K-State’s defense has an opportunity to bounce back. Oklahoma State has the 12th-ranked scoring offense in the Big 12 whereas UCF is third. This could allow the Wildcats to impose its will defensively and help make better reads in coverage. UCF seemed to find ways to expose the defense in the passing game a lot more than the Wildcats would have liked, with 264 yards through the air. This bye week might allow this young K-State secondary to limit explosive plays from here on out.

There’s always room for improvement 

Because of Treshaun Ward’s injury, running back DJ Giddens was given the task of leading the Wildcats in the rushing game against UCF, and it proved to be lethal. Clifton’s return to the lineup can further improve the linebacker core with Daniel Green suffering a season-ending injury. K-State also has sophomore cornerbacks Jacob Parrish and Will Lee III who lead the team in interceptions at one apiece. The extra week off might allow some things to flow more efficiently for these developing pieces. 

K-State will travel with all these advantages at its disposal to face off against Oklahoma State on Saturday, Oct. 6, in Stillwater, Oklahoma. The Wildcats can continue to stay undefeated in Big 12 play and start the long push to the Big 12 Championship.