K-State players celebrate with quarterback Jesse Ertz after his 4th quarter touchdown against Baylor(September 30, 2017) Bo Rader The Wichita Eagle
K-State players celebrate with quarterback Jesse Ertz after his 4th quarter touchdown against Baylor(September 30, 2017) Bo Rader The Wichita Eagle

Campus Corner

The Star's blog on college sports, featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri

Campus Corner

K-State Q&A: Alex Barnes, Byron Pringle, Austin BBQ and a very important Texas game

By Kellis Robinett

krobinett@wichitaeagle.com

October 06, 2017 09:24 AM

UPDATED October 06, 2017 10:46 AM

It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

One of these weeks I will get back to writing some type of longer introduction here at the top, but now isn’t the time. This blog is only as good as the questions you ask, and we’ve got some great ones this week. No need for extra words to get in the way. So let’s get right to them. Thanks, as always, for your participation.

Is this the biggest game of the season as far as momentum goes?

— Chris McLain (@chrismclain10) October 5, 2017

It’s the biggest game of the season as far as a lot of things go.

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K-State players entered the season saying things like they expected to win every game on the schedule. To start 3-2 would be very disappointing. Obviously, the Wildcats would still have opportunities to contend for a Big 12 championship even with a loss in Austin, but they would be fighting an uphill battle. The next three games (at Texas, TCU, Oklahoma) will likely define the season.

Win all three, and fans can start booking trips to the Big 12 championship game. Win two, and K-State controls its own destiny. Win one, and fourth seems more probable than first.

Lose all three, and bowl eligibility becomes the new goal.

K-State isn’t the favorite in this game, but it is only a 3.5-point underdog on the road. If the Wildcats are going to be a player in the Big 12 race, they need to win this game.

I have a sick feeling in my stomach that this will be a 7-5 year if we lose this weekend. Tell me I'm wrong.

— Ep (@johny_epleseed) October 5, 2017

Can’t. That’s a legitimate fear. K-State’s next three games are all going to be hard, and Texas is arguably the most winnable one of the bunch. A win gives the Wildcats margin for error as the season winds down. A loss, and they will have to win at least one game against No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 8 TCU or No. 15 Oklahoma State AND take care of business against Texas Tech and West Virginia just to reach eight victories. I don’t want to scare you too much here, but 6-6 would be in play.

Bill Connelly projects 7-5 as K-State’s most likely record, followed by 8-4 and then 6-6. That sounds about right, but the Wildcats traditionally peak late. There’s no reason they can’t win eight games, regardless of what happens in Austin.

Still, for a team already trying to make up for losing to Vanderbilt, winning at Texas is crucial.

Has Kstate regressed from last year or is the big 12 better? Many people have us finishing 5th in the conference

— Darin Engel (@DarinEngel) October 5, 2017

The jury is still out on K-State, but the Big 12 has definitely improved.

The conference wasn’t very good outside of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and K-State last season. There’s a reason the Sooners went unchallenged in league play.

Now, TCU is in the top 10 and Texas seems to be headed in the right direction. And the four teams mentioned above are still pretty good. Everybody is playing a tougher slate this season.

Just where is 2016 Alex Barnes and what did 2017 Alex Barnes do with him?

— ew (@ew2x4) October 5, 2017

Alex Barnes averaged 7.9 yards per carry last season. This season, that number is down to 5.3.

Still good, but not give-him-the-ball-every-single-time-or-it-is-a-wasted-play good like last season. Personally, I don’t think Barnes is to blame. He could be better, sure, but he had a career-long 38-yard scamper last week and has made good things happen in open space. He’s just not seeing a ton of it. K-State did a better job of setting him up for success last season. With more and better opportunities running between the tackles, I think he will start putting up better numbers.

What do you consider to be the biggest disappointment from an individual production perspective on this year's football team?

— Heath Freeman (@Feddyvon) October 5, 2017

Byron Pringle ended last season on a tear and was supposed to dominate this year. It hasn’t happened.

He has completely disappeared since catching three passes for 121 yards and a touchdown against Central Arkansas. He didn’t play against Charlotte, and dropped as many passes as he caught against Vanderbilt and Baylor. Jesse Ertz has targeted him 16 times, and he only has six catches. His catch rate has dropped to 37.5 percent. Dominique Heath is even worse at 33.3 percent. These were the top two receivers on the team a year ago, and now they can barely be trusted in the passing game.

What’s the biggest matchup problem for ksu vs ut? Would guess our WR vs DB (and heightened by stone hand receivers)

— Tod Cordill (@ksu4tc) October 5, 2017

Yeah, that’s probably the key matchup in this game.

Texas has one of the nation’s best run defenses and allows 96.5 rushing yards per game. K-State will need a balanced offense on Saturday, and that means throwing the ball for at least some success. The Longhorns have a big, physical secondary and a defensive back that already has four picks this season.

The drops that have plagued K-State receivers the last two games can’t continue.

Will our butterfinger issues improve? pic.twitter.com/a7j0wfqWl3

— K-Stated (@kstated) October 5, 2017

I think so. K-State receivers have got to be sick and tired of hearing about their drops. They should be very motivated to catch the ball, or at least cover their receiving gloves with stickum.

Franklin or Salt Lick?

— T-Smitty (@TXwildcat43) October 5, 2017

Let me start by saying they are both fantastic barbecue joints and you can’t go wrong with either one.

But Franklin’s is in a class all by itself. I was heartbroken to read about the fire that temporarily closed the restaurant. Let’s hope it is up and running again soon! You won’t find a bigger Aaron Franklin fan than me. He makes the best brisket on the planet. His lean meat tastes better than most place’s moist meat, and his moist meat tastes better than any other kind of BBQ. Brisket is the hardest piece of meat there is too cook, and he does it perfectly. There’s no need for sauce. It’s that good.

His ribs are also amazing. You will like the turkey, too. The sides are weak, but that’s just Texas BBQ. If somehow we could combine Kansas City sides with Texas meat we would have the best of both worlds.

I’m an amateur smoker, and all of the mediocre barbecue I smoke in my backyard is based on his recipes. I have probably read his cook book more than anything else on my book shelf. Got the chance to meet Franklin while eating at his restaurant this summer and acted like a total fan boy when he signed my copy.

Obviously, Franklin’s isn’t a place you want to regularly visit. The line is monstrously long, and the food (while delicious) is expensive. I’ve been twice, and loved it twice. But it takes some planning.

The Salt Lick can’t compare to Franklin’s (or La Barbecue or Terry Black’s) in terms of quality, but it makes up for it in atmosphere. You won’t find a better environment for eating BBQ. It’s the only restaurant in the world where you hope there is a wait. They have a BYOB policy, and you are encouraged to drink out of your own cooler. Quantity is also a nice perk. If you go big and order family style, you can eat all the food you want for as long as you want. Whatever you don’t eat, you can take home. It’s not the best BBQ in the world, but the food is still pretty good. Definitely worth the drive to Driftwood.

What is your favorite chuck Norris fact? Would the purple wizard beat chuck Norris??

— Jeremy Hilt (@Bannor95) October 5, 2017

Chuck Norris has 17 goals for success and sends hand-written thank you notes to Bill Snyder.

What's your gif reaction to Fast & Furious 9 being delayed another year?

— Tyler Nattier (@TNattier18) October 5, 2017

pic.twitter.com/HPKydq7URh

— Kellis Robinett (@KellisRobinett) October 5, 2017

Why is The Rock doing this to us? At least I have digital copies of the first eight to watch until then!

Hey K-Dawg, will this be the most disappointing season since 2004 if K-State ends up 7-5 or 6-6 after we lose to UT this weekend?

— scottwildcat (@scottwildcat) October 5, 2017

Let’s take a step back from the ledge for a minute. K-State started 3-3 last year and rallied to finish 9-4.

Just because things aren’t going perfectly at the moment, doesn’t mean the Wildcats are destined for disappointment. The loss at Vandy was bad, and it keeps looking worse. But K-State is 3-1 and receiving votes in the top 25, not 1-3 and in the Bottom 10. Let’s wait a few weeks before we rank the season on a misery scale.

Are we seeing the limited side of Dana Dimel play calling that was maybe balanced better in previous years ? Or is it simply poor execution?

— Larry Ross (@BowTieMetal) October 5, 2017

K-State radically altered its offense against Texas last season after Jesse Ertz injured his throwing shoulder, and won with a series of runs and short passes. The Wildcats went on to use that offense the rest of the season and finished 6-1, decimating everyone they faced with their rushing attack. I’m still a little confused as to why they shifted so far away from that approach this season.

I understand the want/need to throw down field now that Ertz can do so, but I think a throwback to that type of strategy would help. Still, it’s hard to put all that much blame on the OC right now the way K-State receivers are playing. Execution has been very bad.

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett