Growing up in Florida and playing junior college football in Mississippi, Daniel Thomas, Kansas State’s dynamic running back, is used to performing in the heat. On Saturday in Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium and home to the NFL’s Chiefs, Thomas and the Wildcats ignored the sweltering conditions and rumbled to a 27-20 victory over the Iowa State Cyclones. With temperatures well into the 90′s, Thomas carried the ball 34 times for 181 yards and scored twice as once again, the Wildcat passing game was for the most part, a non-factor throughout the afternoon. This Kansas State offense continues to be one-dimensional, relying heavily on Thomas and the ground game, a philosophy that simply cannot be sustained with the Wildcats about to begin Big 12 play in earnest in a couple of weeks. Senior quarterback Carson Coffman continues to do just enough to keep Kansas State’s young, undefeated season in check, running the option well while picking up timely first downs with surprising quickness on the ground. But it’s Coffman’s performance through the air that continues to worry Wildcat fans, as demonstrated by an untimely interception he threw early in the third quarter to Cyclone LB A.J. Klein that was promptly returned for a 69-yard touchdown giving Iowa State a momentary 14-10 lead. The pass was poorly under thrown despite having plenty of time to set in the pocket on that particular play. As a senior and leader of this offense, Coffman’s decision-making simply has to improve, especially with match-ups against tougher Big 12 foes Nebraska and Texas on the horizon.
But the story of the day was Daniel Thomas and his ability to make plays against defenses that know he’s the one they have to stop. Thomas combines power with just enough ellusiveness that makes him truly unique and very difficult to bring down. While not have true ”breakaway” speed in the open field, he does display a very quick burst as he hits holes opened by an improving Wildcat offensive line. In addition, Kansas State successfully ran several reverses for significant yardage with Thomas on the sidelines. While there were some suspect calls made by Legendary Head Coach Bill Snyder, such as a fake field goal attempt in the second quarter that had absolutely no chance of succeeding, the Wildcat offense played well and moved the ball well (at least on the ground) throughout the afternoon.
The Kansas State defense continues to have a “bend, but don’t break” look about them. While there were plenty of missed tackles and blown secondary coverages, when a big play was needed, a big play was made. None any bigger than DE Brandon Harold’s sack and fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter, preserving a tenuous Wildcat lead. Iowa State’s senior quarterback, Austen Arnaud, along with running back Alexander Robinson presented problems for the K-State defense on the ground all day long. But it was a miscue on their part through the air that put an end to the Cyclone’s final opportunity to tie the game at the end of regulation. Arnaud’s overthrown pass to Robinson, who had cleared the linebacker coverage and was wide open in the center of the field, had to leave Wildcat fans concerned about the progression of this defense. Not having starting safety Emmanuel Lamur in the lineup for the second straight week certainly didn’t help matters. Lamur, who played sparingly last week against Missouri State but wasn’t a factor, didn’t suit up for the Cyclones with an undisclosed injury but is expected back next week.
Nevertheless, the Wildcats moved to 3-0 on the young season and await the Knights of Central Florida in Manhattan next Saturday.
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.