The Daily Texan spoke with Cameron Bradley, sports editor of The Kansas State Collegian, ahead of this weekend’s matchup between Texas and Kansas State.
The Daily Texan: Kansas State got off to that awesome 4–1 start and beat Oklahoma early in the season, but it’s lost four in a row and is out of the Big 12 Championship race. What happened?
Cameron Bradley: It was really weird at the start because there was that nonconference game against Arkansas State, and they lost that one, which was a really weird way to start the season. Then going back and beating Oklahoma after that, I wasn't really sure what to think about the team. Then they rattled off three straight wins against Texas Tech, TCU and Kansas. But really I think the pivotal moment in the season came against Texas Tech when they lost senior quarterback Skylar Thompson, who they really base a lot of the offense around. After that, the offense kind of just really struggled, minus the Kansas game. But Kansas, I mean, they really struggle everywhere. So it wasn't surprising that they put that many points up on Kansas, but if you look after that game, they scored a total of 28 points going into the Baylor game (last week).
DT: Speaking of quarterbacks, freshman Will Howard came on after Thompson was lost for the year due to injury. How has he filled Thompson’s spot, and does the offense miss its starter?
CB: Will (Howard), he started off well. He just doesn’t really have that explosive playmaking ability that Skylar (Thompson) has. He's had a couple big plays here and there, but like I said earlier, his youth really shows on the field. (Kansas State) trusted Skylar with the offense, and he made some great decisions on the field. He was able to try and take off and run whenever on a passing play whenever he didn’t see anyone. Will, on the other hand, I feel like he doesn’t make the decisions as well as Skylar. It just kind of shows he’s just young. Going from a senior quarterback that has had all that experience and going to a true freshman who’s never started a college game in his life, there's definitely going to be some struggles on offense.
DT: Freshman running back Deuce Vaughn has been a jack-of-all-trades rushing and receiving. How much does this offense lean on him?
CB: A lot. When you look at the stats, it’s pretty much Deuce Vaughn up there leading everywhere, with the rushing game, with the passing game. I believe the first three plays of the Baylor game were all (designed for) Deuce Vaughn, if that tells you anything about how the offense relies on him. He’s a vital part to the offense. He’s a jack-of-all-trades. He can kind of do it all, and they utilize him to be able to do it all.
DT: Do you feel like Kansas State’s season has slipped away a little bit, and what would a win on Saturday mean for the team?
CB: (The season) 100% slipped away. They were coming off of a four-game win streak going into the game against West Virginia, ranked in the top 20 had a really good shot at possibly playing for the Big 12 title, and (those losses) to West Virginia and then to Oklahoma State really just kind of killed it. To end a season on a five-game losing streak compared to winning that last game, it’s a massive difference going into the offseason.