Mac Stevenson
Kansas State’s football team greatly enhanced their opportunity to secure another bowl bid with the 42-35 OT win at Texas Tech. It was a big game for the Wildcats and Coach Bill Snyder was highly pleased and said, “To see the offense be down 10 points, come back, get the field goal, and then come back and get the touchdown and the 2-point conversion . . . I thought there was a lot of want-to, a lot of passion involved in that. A lot of confidence involved in it as well.”
K-State moved their record to 5-4 with three games left on the regular-season schedule; the Wildcats need one more win to obtain their coveted bowl bid. K-State plays an improving West Virginia at Snyder Family Stadium this Saturday (Nov. 11); after the Mountaineers, the Wildcats play at Oklahoma State (Nov. 18) and conclude the regular season against Iowa State (Nov. 25) in Manhattan.
The final three games will be challenging, but Kansas State gained confidence with their come-from-behind win at Texas Tech. The Wildcats also gained confidence in their two young quarterbacks; in the first half, Alex Delton completed 13 of 20 passes for 167 yards and one TD and redshirt sophomore Skylar Thompson took over in the second half and completed 5 of 8 passes for 96 yards and one TD. Delton sat out the second half after taking a vicious hit late in the first period.
Here’s a prediction concerning Skylar Thompson: He’s going to develop into the best passer that K-State has had since Lynn Dickey was calling signals for Coach Vince Gibson. Thompson is going to be a unique QB that can carry a team; he has everything it takes.
Next season Kansas State will return everyone that was on the preseason two-deep offensive depth chart. QB Jesse Ertz will graduate, but Thompson and Delton are waiting in the wings to take over the QB position. It might be a year late, but next season could be extra special.
Many young Wildcat fans feel this season has been a disappointment; however, there are those among us, myself included, who can remember the time when a 5-4 record and a good chance to go to a bowl game would have been a wonderful and miraculous event.
Kansas basketball coach Bill Self was recently inducted into the college basketball hall of fame, an award that was certainly justified. Coach Self is coaching his 15th team at KU and in many ways this 2017-18 team will be the most unusual of all his ballclubs.
Self has a backcourt that is talented and among the most experienced in college basketball. Senior Devonté Graham (6-2, 185) is an established star at point guard; Mississippi State transfer Malik Newman (6-3, 190) is a proven performer at shooting guard; junior LaGerald Vick (6-5, 175) is fast becoming a special player at both guard positions and small forward; senior Svi Mykhailiuk (6-8, 210) will play at small forward and some power forward in emergency situations; and freshman Marcus Garrett (6-5, 180) will add depth at guard.
At center and power forward, the experience factor is a stark contrast to the perimeter players—there isn’t any. And KU has no depth in the pivot. Sophomore Udoka Azubuike (7-0, 285) will play center. He has ability, but very little experience. Freshman Bill Preston (6-10, 240) is a McDonald’s All-American, but he’s just another raw freshman with vast potential. Sophomore Mitch Lightfoot (6-8, 210) will have to play at both power forward and center and he is ill-equipped for either position. He’s too small.
Self has limited depth on the perimeter and no dependable reserves for the inside positions. Kansas cannot afford serious injuries to Azubuike or Preston; if that happens, the Jayhawks will be in a precarious situation. However, if the Jayhawks avoid any serious injuries and Preston and Azubuike play up to their potential, KU will become a formidable team.
Kansas completes their exhibition season with a game against Fort Hays State on Tuesday, Nov. 7; the regular season begins against Tennessee State on Friday, Nov. 10. And then the highly rated Jayhawks jump into the deep end of the pool with their Champions Classic game against Kentucky in Chicago on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
Kansas will have a chance to defeat Kentucky because the Wildcats’ coach, John Calipari, has a team that is far more inexperienced than KU. As usual, Calipari has a deep and highly talented group of freshmen that will be hard to handle late in the season, but the Champions Classic game will be their first taste of competition in a big game that’s nationally televised. KU’s seasoned backcourt could carry the day.