As Kansas State players walked off the field at Memorial Stadium Thursday night, their starting QB Carson Coffman had to be smiling. Coffman and the Wildcats had just finished pounding the Kansas Jayhawks, 59-7, and the senior signal-caller had just played the best football game of his life. Despite a 4-1 start before last night’s decisive victory, there’s been strong criticism of Coffman’s play, including a woeful performance last week in a blowout loss to Nebraska. Battling inconsistency, Coffman looked lost at times earlier in the year, showing below-average arm strength and poor decisions in the pocket.
Not on this night.
Coffman responded to his critics with an outstanding performance, going 15-16 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 42 yards and another three scores. After an initial three-and-out series to start the game, Coffman proceeded to complete eight of his first nine passes for 80 yards in the first quarter. The K-State offense took charge for good in the second quarter and never looked back with four scores, including two Coffman touchdown runs, a 9-yard run from RB Daniel Thomas and a 13-yard strike to tight end Travis Tannahill for a 31-0 halftime advantage. The Wildcats continued to score at will in the second half, as Coffman hit his other tight end, Andre McDonald, for a 29-yard touchdown throw. The play-action fake to Thomas and roll-out by Coffman completely fooled a worn-out Jayhawk defense and capsulized the evening. These were two, fairly equal Big 12 football teams going in completely opposite directions, at least on this night.
Meanwhile, the Kansas State defense also performed at their highest level of the season, albeit against a depleted, inexperienced Jayhawk offense. The Wildcat defensive line went after Kansas freshman QB Jordan Webb throughout the contest, forcing errant throws and hounding Jayhawk running backs into two fumbles, including one returned 85 yards by CB Stephen Harrison for a third quarter touchdown. This was an extremely active defense, forcing turnovers and making tackles in the open field, something Wildcat fans really haven’t seen over an entire 60 minutes at all this year. Kansas State relinquished 20 first downs and 330 yards of total offense to Kansas, but it was certainly a “quiet” 330 yards. The Jayhawks never really threatened to put points on the board, and should have been shutout if not for a late 4th quarter fumble and a subsequent 40-yard touchdown drive against Wildcat backups.
Have Legendary Head Coach Bill Snyder and his Wildcats turned the corner on the season with this decisive victory? Probably not, although the remaining games on the schedule are winnable, with the exception of a trip to Missouri later in November. Thursday night’s win was all about regaining the confidence that was lost after the Nebraska debacle a week ago. Similar to last year, on a weekend when Kansas State was hammered by Texas Tech, they came back the next week with a blowout victory over Texas A&M. What makes Snyder the Hall of Fame coach that he is, is his ability to get his team focused and ready to play in the face of adversity. After Kansas State’s “less-than-spectacular” first four wins, followed by the Nebraska beating, this team could have mentally cashed it in for the year.
Not on this night.
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.