College Football News Preview 2020: Keys To The Season
Biggest Key To The Kansas State Wildcats Offense
Third down conversions mean everything to this offense. Time of possession has been one of the biggest Kansas State staples for decades – own the clock, control the tempo, keep things at the pace it wants to set. There’s taken a few detours here and there when the passing game found something that works, but for the most part, keeping opposing Big 12 offenses off the field turns out to be a really, really big deal.
That means the Wildcats have to own third downs.
Doing well on the money downs didn’t always equal success last year – K-State lost to Texas and West Virginia despite dominating seemingly every third down play – but when the production wasn’t there, it showed.
Navy controlled the game in the bowl win, helped by Kansas State converting just 1-of-8 third down tries. Going 1-of-13 was a huge factor in the loss to Oklahoma State. The program is 1-4 over the last two years when converting fewer than 30% of its tries.
Biggest Key To The Kansas State Wildcats Defense
Don’t let teams get into the red zone. To be fair to the Kansas State defense, it only allowed teams go score touchdowns 52% of the time – that’s really not bad – when they got inside the 20. However, last year, getting deep into Wildcat territory meant automatic points.
Considering the entire plan is based on controlling the clock, keeping down the score, and owning long drives, even field goals matter. To teams like Oklahoma – who also stunk in red zone D – three points here and there are no big deal. Kansas State isn’t high-powered enough.
West Virginia missed a field goal. That was the only empty trip by any offense in 34 tries – K-State had the worst red zone D in the nation, allowing points 97% of the time. By comparison, just two years earlier the defense allowed teams to score at just a 79% clip.
Key Kansas State Wildcats Player To A Successful Season
DT Drew Wiley, Sr.
Kansas State always has a way of plugging-and-playing linemen. For whatever reason, personnel turnover doesn’t seem to matter as much to this program. However, the defensive interior is going to need some work, and that’s where the 6-4, 300-pound Wiley comes in.
He was part of the rotation last season and made 16 tackles with two tackles for loss, but he has never needed to be the anchor. He’s a good athlete, and he’s been around the program for three years, but now he has to go from his role as a decent reserve to a key part up front.
Key Game To The Kansas State Wildcats Season
at West Virginia, Sept. 26
This is what we call a tone-setter in the old country.
Kansas State has to be 3-0 to start the season – going against Buffalo, North Dakota and Vanderbilt. It has Kansas coming up early October, and along with dates against TCU and Texas Tech, six of the first nine games – and five in six after the opener against UB – are against teams that didn’t go bowling last year.
For whatever reason, West Virginia has had Kansas State’s number lately with four straight wins. It’s the Big 12 opener, and with Texas up next – another problem for the Cats, losing four of the last five – a fifth straight loss will be a problem.
– Kansas State Wildcats Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2019 Kansas State Fun Stats
– Time of Possession: Kansas State 33:27 – Opponents 26:33
– Fumbles: Kansas State 22 (lost 9) – Opponents 10 (lost 4)
– 3rd Down Conversions: Kansas State 75-of-174 (43%) – Opponents 42-of-150 (28%)