Continuing our weekly series checking in with the beat writer who covers Oklahoma State’s upcoming opponent.
Kellis Robinett covers Kansas State for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle. You can read his work here or follow him on Twitter at @KellisRobinett
1. How would you assess the two-quarterback system with Jake Waters and Daniel Sams so far? How much do you expect them to rotate Saturday? Is there a chance Sams gets an increased look?
It seems like K-State hasn’t figured out how it wants to use its two-quarterback system yet. Jake Waters is the starter, and he has seen close to 90 percent of the snaps. He is the best pure passer the Wildcats have had in years, but he has lost seven turnovers in four games. Good things have happened when Daniel Sams has played. He is averaging 7.1 yards per carry and he has scored three touchdowns. But coaches seem hesitant to let him throw or use him in an expanded role. The quarterback rotation caused a rift in the locker room after the Texas game, with receiver Tramaine Thompson openly questioning why the coaching staff wasn’t better utilizing Sams. My guess is both quarterbacks will continue to be used the way they have so far.
2. Coming into the season, John Hubert was regarded as one of the Big 12′s best returning running backs. Why hasn’t he been able to get going this season?
Hubert is a fine player, but it was unfair to put him in that conversation. He ran for 900-plus yards in back-to-back seasons next to a Heisman finalist quarterback and a standout fullback. K-State’s offensive line has regressed this season, and Hubert simply hasn’t been able to gain yards with limited running space as the team’s main ball-carrier.
3. Lots of folks around these parts are familiar with Tyler Lockett. Where has he most improved from last season to this season that has helped him continue to develop into such a dynamic offensive and special teams weapon?
His routes are much more precise than they were last year. Lockett has always had deep-threat speed, but now he is using it as a returner and receiver. He has established good chemistry with Jake Waters, and that has led to some massive gains.
4. Defense has obviously been a big issue this season. With Arthur Brown and Meshak Williams gone from the K-State defense, who has become the leader of that unit? Ty Zimmerman? What’s most behind the problems, besides a lack of experience?
Ty Zimmerman remains K-State’s best defensive player, but I think linebacker Blake Slaughter might be the new leader. He leads the team in tackles and has embraced the role of team captain. The problem is many of his teammates haven’t stepped up in the same way. K-State had speed and leadership everywhere on defense last year. That is no longer the case. K-State’s biggest problem is defending the middle of the field. Its zone coverage formations leave it vulnerable to both the run and pass, which has made life difficult on third down.
5. Where do you think the Wildcats have a chance to exploit OSU? And is there an under-the-radar player that could make a big impact Saturday?
Oklahoma State ranks ahead of K-State in most statistical categories, so I’m not sure the Wildcats have a distinct advantage at any single position. But I could see both Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson having big days if the Cowboys try to take one of them away. As far as an under-the-radar guy, keep an eye on Dante Barnett. The free safety is from Tulsa and has been looking forward to this game all season.