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Kansas State Midseason Report: Best plays

Grant Flanders10/15/22
Article written by:On3 imageGrant Flanders

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Phillip Brooks/Getty

SOUTH DAKOTA AT KANSAS STATE

KNOWLES TOUCHDOWN

In what is probably Kansas State wide receiver Malik Knowles’ best play of the season so far, he took the first play from scrimmage to the house on a jet sweep. His breakaway speed has always been apparent and it gave the Wildcats a jolt to begin the 2022 campaign.

BLOCKED PUNT

The K-State special teams has struggled to find a footing as of late, but they made a giant impact in the first week against South Dakota. Seth Porter easily blocked a punt by blowing past the Coyotes’ three-man wall. Redshirt freshman linebacker Desmond Purnell was alert enough to scoop the football up and and walk in for an easy score.

MASON’S INTERCEPTION

Cincere Mason has sneakily been a productive defender for Kansas State when he has been on the field. One of the safety’s two interceptions on the season came in the first game. It was a risky pass by the South Dakota quarterback and Mason made sure to make him pay by under-cutting on the route over the middle of the field at the right time and not dropping the ball.

DEUCE’S TOUCHDOWN

It was a product of incredible blocking up front that included at great pull from center Hayden Gillum who took out two defenders to clear a wide open path for K-State running back Deuce Vaughn. The All-Big 12 running back did the rest. The Coyote secondary had a chance to tackle him, but his speed was just too much to handle.

MISSOURI AT KANSAS STATE

MARTINEZ TOUCHDOWN RUN

Another example of great blocking came on the second Kansas State touchdown of the second game of the season. It was a designed quarterback run for Adrian Martinez who ran behind pulling guard Cooper Beebe and center Hayden Gillum, with an extra lead blocker in Vaughn to help spring Martinez into the end zone untouched.

PUNT RETURN FOR SCORE

On the second and only other K-State special teams score of the season, Phillip Brooks broke an initial tackle on a punt return, sped past another Tiger and Kade Warner and Desmond Purnell helped seal the edge for an easy cruise to the end zone. It was Brooks’ third career punt return touchdown.

FOUR INTERCEPTIONS IN A ROW

Things really started to unravel for Missouri in the third quarter when they threw four interceptions on four straight pass attempts spread between two quarterbacks. The first was when Kobe Savage read Brady Cook like a book and made a great play on the ball 25 yards downfield.

The second was maybe the most impressive interception of the season when Kansas State linebacker Daniel Green picked Cook off at point blank range. That was followed up by a very poor short pass from backup quarterback Jack Abraham that bounced off the receiver’s hands right into linebacker Nick Allen’s lap.

The final one was also an Abraham pass and one that was further downfield. Both cornerback Julius Brents and Mason had a chance at it, but Mason made the grab while falling down since Brents ran into him also trying to make the play.

The most impressive part of it all was Mason didn’t have his head turned around until the ball was about 10 feet away in the air and coming in hot.

VAUGHN FROM 24 YARDS

It was a 150-yard and two-touchdown kind of day for Deuce Vaughn. His first score was from one yard out. The second was a 24-yard scamper off the read-option give and yet anther example of the great run-blocking ability from the offensive line as the K-State back found pay dirt untouched.

GIDDENS FROM 28

There may have been an Andrew Leingang hold that went uncalled that helped spring the hole that Kansas State redshirt freshman running back DJ Giddens ran through for the second touchdown of his career. However, he went untouched into the end zone for a 28-yard score, his longest of the season.

MOTT’S TFL

Daniel Green was the first to reach the backfield and meet Missouri running back Nathaniel Peat behind the line of scrimmage. Peat broke that tackle and reversed course only to find defense end Brendan Mott not far away to make the tackle 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

TULANE AT KANSAS STATE

MARTINEZ TO WARNER

If you don’t want to watch the highlight but still want a clear picture of what Martinez’s toss to Kade Warner against Tulane looked like, google ‘drop in the bucket’ in football terms and you will have your painting.

From the far hash, the quarterback slung the ball into the right side of the end zone into his wideout’s bread basket. It was also an incredible catch by Warner because a defender nearly took his head off right after he secured it.

FORCING TURNOVERS

Green did all he could to set his offense up for success versus the Green Wave. Right before halftime, the K-State linebacker picked a pass off and returned it 49 yards to the opponent’s 23-yard line.

He later stunted another good-looking drive from Tulane by playing perfect coverage on a pass over the middle of the field, knocked the ball into the air with his hands and Kobe Savage finished it off with an impressive diving interception.

KANSAS STATE AT OKLAHOMA

BEN SINNOTT’S RECEPTIONS

The performance against Oklahoma was the best game from Ben Sinnott or any other Kansas State tight end this season. He caught four passes for 80 yards in Norman. His longest was a 27-yard completion, but the most impressive was his 25-yard reception where he broke two tackles at the same time and picked up extra yardage.

KNOWLES’ KICKOFF RETURN

It didn’t go for a score but Malik Knowles did set the Wildcats up with great field position with the game tied early in the second quarter. Almost 60 yards on any return is worth mentioning, but it was the move he put on right before the 30-yard line that gives you a great idea of just how dangerous Knowles can be with the ball in space.

MARTINEZ’S 55-YARD RUSH

The most eye-popping run of the season for quarterback Adrian Martinez came versus Oklahoma. In what wasn’t a designed quarterback keeper on third and long, the pocket collapsed and Martinez shot through the middle of the offensive line, angled toward the sideline and turned on the jets to squeeze every bit of yardage he could out of the scramble.

I knew he was fast, but that was the moment I realized just how fast. It didn’t go for a score, but he was able to punch it home from five yards out on the next play and give a bow to the crowd in Norman.

TEXAS TECH AT KANSAS STATE

ADRIAN’S 57-YARD RUSH

On the first play from scrimmage, K-State called a read-option in which Martinez kept it and great blocking sprung him for a 57-yard run. He scored from 18 yards out on the next snap.

DEUCE’S 69-YARD RUSH

170 yards on the ground was a single-game career high for the elite Deuce Vaughn. He did it without scoring against Texas Tech, but it included a 69-yard run in the third quarter. Vaughn had a heck of a time rushing for over seven yards per carry on 23 attempts.

BROOKS’ TOUCHDOWN GRAB

I didn’t love seeing Kansas State wideout Phillip Brooks bobble the touchdown toss, but he made it look difficult and easy at the same time. When he did secure the catch, a defender was right there, but he spun off of him and pranced into the end zone for his first scoring grab of the season.

MARTINEZ FOR 69

The long run was way too easy for the K-State quarterback. You don’t see many untouched 50-plus yard rushes, but that is exactly what it was for Martinez right up the gut. The blocking was impeccable at the line of scrimmage and the Red Raiders did not have any deep safeties in the middle of the field to contest him.

DUKE AND FELIX COMBINE FOR SIX SACKS

Kansas State linebacker Khalid Duke and defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah were enormous versus Texas Tech. They brought the quarterback down three times apiece. It earned Duke Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors since it was also associated with his eight total tackles. Anudike-Uzomah even stripped the quarterback that resulted in a turnover.

INTERCEPTIONS

Linebacker Austin Moore’s interception rivals Green’s and Mason’ as the best of the season so far for the Wildcats. He tracked down a deep ball from Donovan Smith and made a diving grab. It was yet another pick stolen from Brents who was right there on the play, too.

However, the cornerback redeemed himself with one of his own later in the game for his first interception of the season. Coincidentally, Moore was right there at the play as well. But No. 23 escaped with the intermediate pass into double coverage.

KANSAS STATE AT IOWA STATE

MARTINEZ TO BROOKS

This is my favorite play for the offense midway through the season. Not only was it a score on the first drive of the game and also the longest play from scrimmage this year, but it was impressive on multiple levels.

First, Hayden Gillum’s blocking broke down when a linebacker came flying into the backfield untouched. Somehow Martinez shakes the tackle, quickly re-sets his feet and finds Phillip Brooks about 30 yards downfield who catches it with a defender draped all over him.

The K-State receiver shed the defender, put his arm in the ground and sped away over 50 yards for the score. Kade Warner made sure his buddy wasn’t shoe-string tackled by blocking a Cyclone defensive back and preventing him from chasing down Brooks.

Warner has been quietly very good all season at blocking downfield for his teammates.

THIRD DOWN TACKLE

Safety Josh Hayes has been solid throughout the year for Kansas State, but he played his best game against Iowa State. He collected eight total tackles in the first half and finished the game with a massive tackle on third down on the final Cyclone possession of the game.

Iowa State would fail to move the chains on the following play, ultimately making Hayes’ effort the most important of the game on that side of the ball.