The atmosphere was electric in The Bill Snyder Family Stadium as the Kansas State Wildcats kicked off the 2010 season against the UCLA Bruins. There were questions about K-State on both sides of the ball for this game and to be honest, a few still remain. But no one was questioning the Cats 1st quarter performance as they held UCLA to a three-and-out on the Bruins first series. After a UCLA punt into a stiff wind, K-State had good field position for their first drive that began on their own 40. Led by RB Daniel Thomas, the Cats scored on their opening possession and clearly looked in control. Unfortunately for the remainder of the first half, the offense stalled and the Bruins took advantage of the wind in the second quarter to take a 10-7 halftime lead. QB Carson Coffman looked shaky throughout the first half and at one point in the third quarter, had to leave the game due to leg cramps. He later returned and eventually led the Wildcats on an 80-yard drive to extend their lead to 24-16 on a 5-yard touchdown toss to WR Brodrick Smith with just over two minutes remaining in the game. But UCLA came right back in only 40 seconds as Bruin QB Kevin Prince hit WR Ricky Marvray for 29 yards and a touchdown that cut the Wildcat lead back to two. UCLA missed the ensuing two-point conversion and KSU recovered the on-side kick, much to the relief of an anxious Wildcat crowd. Thomas then proceeded to put an exclamation point on the game with a 35-yard touchdown run as the Cats were running out the clock.
So, Wildcat fans, here’s what we do know. We know Daniel Thomas is a beast. Thomas, along with RB William Powell, give the Cats a very formidable running attack. Thomas combines power with ellusiveness and was literally dragging Bruin defenders for extra yardage throughout the afternoon. This young man is a load and can make things happen from the “Wildcat” formation as well. Everyone in the stadium knew UCLA was going to do all they could to stop Thomas and make Coffman beat them in the passing game and at a certain point in the second quarter, that strategy seemed to be working. But barring injury, this running game looks extremely solid yet is one that can’t be relied upon every week, especially as KSU heads into October and Big 12 play kicks into full swing.
Conversely, this is what we don’t know. Does Carson Coffman have the ability to lead this team for an entire season? He looked indecisive in his reads, took too many sacks and looked a step slow in the pocket. One particularly frustrating moment came in the 2nd quarter when the Cats had a 1st and 5 after a Bruin penalty. On the ensuing play, Coffman went back to pass, was forced out of the pocket and then took a sack for a five-yard loss rather than throwing the ball away. Thus the Wildcats were faced with a 2nd and 10 rather than 2nd and 5 if only he had thrown the ball away. Coffman admitted after the game that he needed to be more aware of situations like that and take fewer sacks. But while a nervous Wildcat crowd was yelling for a new quarterback during the game and probably many here in Wildcat Nation may still feel that way today, I disagree. Coffman clearly showed more confidence when he returned to the game and later proceeded to lead K-State on that 80-yard touchdown drive in the 4th quarter. Will 60 yards passing on a week to week basis cut it? Of course not. Coffman HAS to improve and hopefully this Saturday against Missouri State we’ll start to see that improvement. He has to “believe” in the play that’s called in the huddle, know that his receivers will run the routes they’re supposed to and throw the ball when it’s supposed to be thrown. He can’t continue to hesitate that extra second or two and let the pocket collapse in around him. Clearly, backup QB Colin Klein didn’t look ready, albeit he was thrown into the game without any preparation when Coffman left with the leg cramp problem. So this is Carson Coffman’s team and his alone, at least for now.
Look for more questions to be answered on Saturday against Missouri State.
About the Author
Written by Chad Craghead
A 1988 graduate from Wichita State University, Chad has followed WSU as well as Kansas State athletics for over 30 years, along with being a lifelong Boston Red Sox and L.A./St. Louis Rams fan.