K-State football turns attention toward defending option run game

Linebacker Da’Quan Patton redshirt candidate

MANHATTAN — Kansas State coach Bill Snyder didn’t follow through on his postgame threat to send his defense back out on the field at midnight after last Saturday night’s game to iron out the kinks on defending the option.

 

“I couldn’t get our coaches awake,” Snyder said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “They were all sound asleep.

“No, we didn’t, but we’ve invested a decent amount of time so far making sure that we can correct the mistakes.”

Time has been invested physically and mentally.

“(Monday) we went over it for about 30 minutes in practice and we watched film for about an hour,” said defensive end Tanner Wood. “We covered it quite extensively so we should have things corrected.”

K-State beat Central Arkansas 55-19 but was caught off guard by the Bears’ option run game that produced 223 rushing yards with running back Carlos Blackman going for 114. It was an offensive scheme the Wildcats didn’t see on the Bears’ 2016 game tapes.

“The coaches told us they’d give us something new we had never seen and we’d have to get it adjusted on the fly, so we were kind of expecting it,” said linebacker Jayd Kirby. “They schemed us pretty good so hat’s off to them, but they showed us some new things we hadn’t seen so we had to get that adjusted on the sideline. Once we got the adjustments, I think we did pretty good.

“They hurt us with the option but in practice we’ve fixed that.”

The Wildcats, up one spot to No. 19 in this week’s Associated Press poll, will see if the problem is fixed when they play Charlotte at 11 a.m. Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The 49ers are coming off a 24-7 loss to Eastern Michigan but quarterback Hasaan Klugh rushed for a career-high 101 yards.

“Last week we had some difficulty with a few of the scrambles from the quarterback and this young guy (Hasaan) will pull it down and go in a heartbeat,” Snyder said. “We have to be more responsible in regards to what one’s responsibilities happen to be.”

A lot of the responsibility falls upon the new linebacker corps featuring Kirby and Trent Tanking.

“We’re definitely going to be ready for the option,” Kirby said. “They have an athletic offensive line and quarterback and a good running back. We have to be ready for whatever they give us.”

Kirby and Tanking both made their first start against UCA and backups Elijah Sullivan and Justin Hughes — both sophomores from Tucker, Ga. — performed well enough to give Snyder an optimistic outlook.

“I thought we identified the fact that we have depth that we thought we had but were uncertain about because they hadn’t been on the field before,” he said. “I think some of our number twos that came in played well, as well as our front-line group.”

PERSONNEL MATTERS — Snyder said wide receiver Dominique Heath, last year’s team leader in receptions, could play Saturday after sitting out last week but backup quarterback Alex Delton is questionable.

“I think he’s getting close,” Snyder said of Heath.

As for Delton, Snyder said, “I’m not sure, yet. I’m hoping so but we’ll see.”

Snyder also said junior college transfer linebacker Da’Quan Patton is a redshirt candidate.

“It’s early in the season,” he said. “Yes, we would like to redshirt him and he’s interested in that, but he knows if the need is there we certainly would draw on him, but that would have to be early in the season.”

SKY HIGH — Highly-touted redshirt freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson impressed Snyder in his debut when he took over for Jesse Ertz at the start of the fourth quarter.

“The physical things he did, I think we’ve seen those,” Snyder said. “I wasn’t totally certain how he would handle being on the field for the very first time and I was very pleased with the poise he demonstrated. When we put him in the ballgame, it was the change of the quarter and he went on the field and TV takes 2½ hours between quarters. I was concerned about leaving him out there during that period of time to do nothing but stand around and worry about his performance. I thought about bringing him over and then I thought, well, let’s give him the true test and he came through it well.

“His demeanor and command of the offense wasn’t perfect but it was awfully good. He was very poised, which was significant and important.”

REED NABS BIG 12 HONOR — D.J. Reed was named Big 12 special teams player of the week with 181 return yards against Central Arkansas.

Reed returned the game’s opening kickoff 96 yards to the UCA 4-yard line, setting up the Wildcats’ first touchdown, and returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown. On defense, the junior cornerback had seven tackles and one interception.

BARRY’S BIG MOMENT — Brogan Barry, the backup free safety, made a big play near the end of the game when he sacked quarterback Hayden Hildebrand for an 11-yard loss and forced a fumble.

“It was pretty sweet,” said Barry, the former walk-on from Hayden now on scholarship for his senior year. “I had a couple of mistakes early in the drive that I wanted to make up for. Coach (Tom) Hayes had a great call on fourth-and-short so it was absolutely a great feeling.”

OFFENSIVE TACKLE COMMITS — K-State picked up its ninth player in the 2018 recruiting class with an oral commitment from Kaitori Leveston.

Leveston is a 6-foot-5, 290- pound offensive tackle from Waco, Texas, where he attends Midway High School, the same school as former Wildcat running back John Hubert. Leveston, a two-star recruit by Rivals.com., also had offers from Texas Tech, Missouri and North Texas.

 


 

Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.

 


 

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