Sunday Seconds: Baby Steps Mike Tufano October 6, 2013 Features, Sunday Seconds For the past two seasons K-State football has played above their talent level, and surprised those on a national level (and sometimes even us) by playing skillful and mistake free football. As K-State continues the step back that is 2013 football, turnovers and penalties are a huge problem. K-State now averages a -2 turnover margin EACH GAME. Almost a complete turnaround from last year’s +1.5 per game. You don’t win football games when you keep handing the ball to the other team. In addition to the turnover problem, penalties have been a huge killer this year, when virtually non existent last year. At this point K-State now averages 6.9 penalties for 55 yards a game. That’s almost doubling last year’s average of 3.9 penalties for 32.5 yards per game. Quote of the game: Wide Receiver Kyle Klein On issues at the line of scrimmage… “Honestly I think it’s just communication. The coaches are calling one thing and then half the line is calling another thing, Quarterback is saying something different and the wide receivers are getting a different signal so we just need to communicate better as a team.” There’s a lot to unpack from that quote. Communication was brought up by Daniel Sams and others in the post game as well. So how does it happen that the entire unit can’t be on the same page? Without being inside the program it’s incredibly difficult to make statements about who can and can’t manage the offense from a mental standpoint, but 5 games and a bye week into the year this has me scared. Opponent quote of the week: Oklahoma State Safety Daytawion Lowe On being able to force five turnovers… “That was right at the quota. We strive to force five turnovers per game. When we get that done, we’re achieving a lot. We’re putting our offense opportunities to score when we succeed.” When the season began we ran a poll that asked who people would like to see as the starting QB. The results were nearly 50-50. Before starting conference play we ran the same poll and this time it was slanted 2/3 towards Daniel Sams. I suspect if we did it again today we’d be looking at 95% Sams, if not more. Watching the K-State fan base is turning into an interesting sociological experiment. The vast majority of fans wanted to see Sams start (he basically did, coming in after one play by Waters), play the majority of snaps (he did, and Waters basically got the Sams treatment this game), and throw the ball (he connected on 15/21 for 181 yards, 2 TDs, and 3 INTs). So what did we learn? We learned that Sams isn’t a great quarterback. He did great things. He did really horrible things. As someone who is rooting for K-State and not for a particular K-State quarterback, I’ve long said that I think Jake Waters is the better quarterback, but I want what is going to lead K-State to wins. That battle, to me, has been close to that 50-50 standpoint all along, and continues to be. Both quarterbacks have a lot of upside and a lot of downside. They just happen to be in very different ways. When I said “we learned” in the last bullet point I should probably rephrase that. It’s what I learned. From the social experiment side it’s fascinating to me that when Waters struggled the vast majority on twitter screamed about how terrible he was and that he shouldn’t be in the game. As Sams turned the ball over 4 times yesterday I saw twitter go crazy with lines like “if the play calling were better he wouldn’t do that!” When you want to see things a certain way, you’re going to see them a certain way. Thankfully our coaching staff isn’t looking through the lenses that the fans are looking through. So my answer? It remains what I’ve been saying for weeks. They need to be on the field together. What we’ve known all along remains true. Waters is a phenomenal passer. Sams is a phenomenal athlete. They both have a ton to learn, and I hope they both get a chance to do so. We saw 2 plays yesterday in which both were on the field. This is a development that needs to be expanded. We all know the best thing would be to combine their skill sets into one. That’s the the closest we have to doing so. After Waters fumbled the ball the cameras found Daniel Sams encouraging him on the sideline. Perhaps there’s a lot the fan base could learn from watching two guys rooting for each other and for the team. The women’s volleyball team won in 5 sets over TCU yesterday in a great comeback win to get their first Big 12 win. The #4 Equestrian team also found success in a 17-2 win over #6 Texas A&M. Both the men’s and women’s cross country teams finished 3rd in their invitational yesterday, and the rowing team had 2 boats finish in the top 10. BAYLOR BEARS4-0 (1-0 Big 12)2012: 8-5 (4-5)Coach: Art BrilesTwitter: @BUFootballLast year: KSU 24 BU 52All time: KSU leads 7-3 Next week’s opponent, Baylor, put on an offensive clinic yesterday in their first conference game, hosting West Virginia. After non-con wins over Wofford, Buffalo, and LA-Monroe, it was their first game of the season against an FBS team, but they’ll come in with the #1 passing offense, #2 rushing offense, and #1 scoring offense in FBS football. And given the competition they’ve faced, they’ve managed to stay 14th in overall defensive scoring as well, even after West Virginia managed to score 42 points on them last night. All in all this week it felt like K-State has taken some steps forward, but they were baby steps. The defense looked better, but they’ll face the toughest test of the season at home on Saturday. Come out of that with a win and it can salvage a lot for the season. A loss, as most of us expect, and we’re in the position of needing to win 4 of the last 6 games just to be bowl eligible. Rebuilding indeed.