Kansas State may be under new management, but the program hasn’t shifted too far from its Bill Snyder roots, according to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.
“There’s a lot of similarities in everything they’re doing,” Gundy said. “Concepts, 21 personnel (two running backs and one tight end), 22 personnel (two backs and two tight ends), a lot of pull plays. It’s essentially the same.”
And looking at the numbers through three games, it’s easy to see where he’s coming from.
It’s not as if the Wildcats have joined the air-raid craze of the Big 12 Conference.
Junior quarterback Skylar Thompson has thrown for just 486 yards – which ranks ninth out of the 10 starting quarterbacks in the conference – and four touchdowns – which is the fewest in the league.
There has been a shift in the schemes, however, in the Kansas State rushing game.
Kansas State hasn’t relied as much on the quarterback in the run game through its first three games.
Thompson, who averaged nearly 10 carries per game last season, has only 10 rushes for 76 yards early this year.
“They had two blowout wins, I’m guessing that played a role,” Gundy said of Thompson’s limited use in the run game. “I would say he would rush the ball more than three times against us – because that’s been his average. In blowout wins, you just don’t see it as much.”
The Wildcats have relied more on a trio of tailbacks – James Gilbert, Jordan Brown and Harry Trotter – who have combined for an average of 176 yards per game with Gilbert averaging 92.3 on the ground.
Kansas State has run more out of the I-formation behind fullbacks Nick Lenners and Mason Barta, who have been used exclusively as blockers – with neither of them having a carry on the season.
“You don’t see it a lot, but at the end of the day we are here to play football and got to stop it,” Cowboy linebacker Kevin Henry said. “We have to be very disciplined at the end of the day because it’s not what we are used to seeing in the Big 12 so we have to be hard-nosed and play football.”
One difference under K-State coach Chris Klieman could be the hidden yards that former coach Bill Snyder always preached.
Kansas State has been flagged 13 times for 114 yards – an average of 38 penalty yards per game.
The Wildcats have still had some success in the return game, averaging 34 yards per kickoff return – bolstered by a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that sparked K-State’s rally over Mississippi State two weeks ago. They have averaged just 7.63 yards a return in the punting game, where they had two muffed punts lost in the road game against the Bulldogs of the SEC.
Follow News Press sports editor Jason Elmquist on Twitter @jelmquistSW for updates on Oklahoma State football.