Heading into last Saturday's game against Texas, I thought Kansas State backup quarterback Daniel Sams—though he's really more of a second option to Jake Waters—would be an X-Factor against a struggling Longhorns run defense.
Sams put up good enough numbers with six yards per carry, including a 23-yard run, but his snaps were limited and the Wildcats couldn't consistently run the ball effectively.
There were a lot of reasons for that; first, and foremost, being that Texas showed significant improvement in run defense. Open field tackling, assignments, push up front—those were areas that were much better than they were the past couple of weeks. Texas deserves credit for that.
Mack Brown said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference that defensive coordinator Greg Robinson kept the game plan simple, which "freed their minds" and "allowed players to play."
Kansas State kept things simple as well. Perhaps a little too simple. Sams didn't attempt a pass the entire game.
Waters is considered the better passer of K-State's two quarterbacks, but it's not as though Sams can't throw at all, even though he's only attempted four passes on the season.
He wouldn't even had to have been that effective doing it, either. Former Wildcats quarterback Collin Klein wasn't the greatest looking passer, but the threat of it was enough to make his rushing efforts even more effective.
Two weeks ago, BYU quarterback Taysom Hill completed roughly one-third of his 27 pass attempts for 129 yards and an interception against Texas. But it was enough that the Longhorns had to account for it.
With Sams, there was no question for Texas' defense what was coming: either a designed quarterback run or a zone read. And Kansas State doesn't look as good up front as they've been in the recent years. After a couple of big runs early, Sams was kept mostly in check.
It would have been different if Sams was getting a first down every time he ran the ball, but he wasn't. Even a one-read pass may have helped. With 13 receptions for 237 yards, receiver Tyler Lockett basically was Kansas State's only target in the pass game and it worked out just fine for Waters.
Sams wasn't a huge part of Kansas State's offense Saturday night, but that's par for the course. He's certainly not the reason the Wildcats lost, either. Three turnovers, mental errors and playing from behind the entire game will take care of that.
By Bill Snyder's own admission Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference, this is an offense still looking to find itself.
But for Sams to not even have a pass attempt, considering how focused Texas was on his running ability and how well they were stopping it, was too predictable. And unlike before, the Longhorns defense was stopping the same play.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes and information obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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