Though they couldn’t topple TCU or Baylor on the road, the Kansas State Wildcats established themselves as the clear No. 3 team in the Big 12, with dominating victories over Texas and Oklahoma State, and a second straight victory in Norman over Oklahoma.
Below, we continue our team-by-team season report card series with Kansas State:
Quarterback Jake Waters delivered an efficient senior season, placing second in the Big 12 with a completion rate of 66 percent. He also threw 22 touchdowns and didn’t commit a single turnover through K-State’s first five conference games. The receiving duo of Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton was as good as any in the league, with both topping the 1,000-yard receiving mark. Only a below-average running game kept this unit from garnering an “A.”
Beginning with a stalwart showing in a narrow loss to Auburn, the Wildcats were stout defensively for most of the season. Linebacker Jonathan Truman anchored the front seven, while Dante Barnett emerged as one of best cover safeties in the Big 12. Cornerbacks Danzel McDaniel and Morgan Burns also held up well in their first season as starters. Limited athleticism, however, caught up with the Wildcats in losses in TCU, Baylor and UCLA, in which they surrendered 553, 584 and 467 yards, respectively.
Special Teams: A-minus
The special-teams unit got off to an inauspicious start, when Jack Cantele missed three field goals against Auburn. Freshman Matthew McCrane, however, replaced Cantele and led the Big 12 in field goal percentage, making 18 of 19 attempts. In the return game, Lockett was unstoppable, leading the nation in average yards per punt return. The Wildcats held the special-teams advantage over every Big 12 opponent they faced.
Once again, Bill Snyder maximized a roster full of former and current walk-ons, putting the Wildcats in position to contend for a Big 12 championship up to the final weekend of the season. The Hall of Famer continues to show why he's a Hall of Famer.
The Wildcats were ranked in the top 10 of the polls for much of the season, and came within a hair of reaching one of the coveted New Year’s Six bowls. Had it not been for the miscues against Auburn, K-State might have been playing for a playoff berth on the final weekend, too. All in all, a quality season from a quality team.