By Jeff Burkhart
How many times can I recycle the ‘well, they did it again’ lead? It’s unprecedented, especially at a school that has had the kind of fortune that
has had over the years. It seems like this season is retribution for every close loss K-State coach Bill Snyder endured in his first go-around… or, maybe it’s atoning for the Ron Prince Era. I don’t know. What I do know is that Kansas State (9-2, 6-2) is on its way to having its best season in almost a decade after a 17-13 win over Texas (6-4, 3-4) at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium in Kansas State on Saturday. Austin
However, don’t be fooled by the outcome. The positives for K-State in this game were few and far between.
It’s safe to say that
was not caught off-guard by Collin Klein in this year’s game. After Klein made a surprise start against the Longhorns last season – a 39-14 win for K-State – Texas was more than ready the Wildcats’ offense this time around. Texas
It was clear early on that Klein was not going to be able to beat
’ defense with his feet. Yet, for some reason, Klein ended up carrying the ball 26 times during the game for a meager four yards. Running back John Hubert accounted for only 55 yards but that amounted to nearly half of the ‘Cats total offensive output. Hubert was truly the lone bright spot in a game in which K-State managed to generate a mere 121 yards on 56 plays. Texas
“I was very frustrated that we weren’t able to get anything going and weren’t able to support the kind of performance our defense gave,” Klein said. “We’re just going to come back to work and keep getting better.”
The ‘Horns weren’t just good. They were dominant. First-year defensive coordinator Manny Diaz showed no respect for K-State’s passing game, and it paid dividends.
’ defense lived in K-State’s backfield for each and every one of the 28 minutes the Wildcats had the ball, racking up 12 tackles behind the line of scrimmageincluding five sacks. Texas
|Nothing came easy for Collin Klein (7)|
or the Wildcats offense against Texas' defense.
“They just beat the tar out of us,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “
is a tremendously talented defensive team, and they played extremely well. They created problems for us in terms of some of the things they did and the blitzes they ran. So, it was a combination of them playing very well and scheming us very well, and us not scheming them very well or playing very well.” Texas
Even before the game started, Snyder knew he wasn’t going past page two in the playbook. Not surprisingly, the playing calling was predictable at the game’s most critical junctures. Seven times the ‘Cats had third-and-five (or less). Six of those plays were runs, with only one conversion. The one pass play was a 16-yard touchdown to Chris Harper. Snyder not wanting to deviate from team’s offensive identity is something I can understand. But when the ground game produces just two yards on 19 running plays in the first half, why not consider changing it up after intermission?
The end result may indicate otherwise but this was a colossal step back for the K-State offense. The ‘Cats went three-and-out NINE times (four of those possessions resulted in lost yardage). This was a game in which field-position was going to be critical. The ‘Cats failed to move the chains, make adjustments on offense or do anything positive. K-State was fortunate enough to escape, but playing not to lose on the road in November won’t get you many W’s.
The only thing that stopped
Texas in this game was . For the fourth straight week, it was another sad showing by an allegedly “rejuvenated” K-State defense that was ranked in the top 25 once upon a time. The ‘Cats have since slipped to 77th in total defense and is tied with Texas for 73rd in scoring defense. This group is a far cry from any of the “Lynch Mobs” of old. Buffalo
It’s hard to give K-State’s back end any credit for defending the pass when freshman quarterback David Ash was as inaccurate as he was. The ‘Cats were fortunate enough to intercept Ash twice, once off a deflected pass and the second off of a horribly overthrown ball down the middle of the field. Ash, who was eventually relieved by Case McCoy in the third quarter, had open wide receivers throughout the contest but only managed to connect on 7-of-16 pass attempts for 39 yards. While the switch to McCoy may have benefited in the short-term, at the end of the game K-State was lucky to be in a spot where a true freshman quarterback who didn't start was asked to drive his team 80 yards with 1:16 left and no time-outs.
|Tre Walker (50) helped lead a Wildcats defense|
that Bill Snyder played just well enough to win.
game was a microcosm of the entire season for K-State. The ‘Cats have caught so many teams at just the right time, and the ‘Horns were no exception. Texas ’ top two running backs, Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown, were far from 100 percent but played anyway. Ash was making only his fifth career start, not to mention the true freshman didn’t have the luxury of knowing who would be in the backfield with him until game-time. Credit K-State for making enough plays to hold on, but also keep in mind that the ‘Cats didn’t neutralize any facet of Texas ’ offense. I think Snyder put it best: “Good enough to win.” Texas
Special Teams: C+
The kickers handled their duties. Punter Ryan Doerr has been called on more often in recent weeks but the
transfer continues to deliver. Doerr punted 10 times against the ‘Horns for a net average of 36 yards. Not bad considering half of his attempts were working against a stiff wind. Kicker Anthony Cantele nailed a 20-yard field goal early in the game to get the ‘Cats on the board. The South Carolina native is becoming more reliable by the week as he’s only missed one attempt in his last seven tries (14-of-19 on the year). Wichita
The ‘Cats return game was productive again this week. Tramaine Thompson continued to show that he is not merely a stopgap measure, notching a 39-yard kick-off return and a 19-yard punt return. It may not sound like much but with K-State’s offensive ineptitude taken into consideration, every yard Thompson gained was critical toward K-State winning the battle of field position.
The one area where K-State struggled this week was punt return coverage. Quandre Diggs got loose for 45 yards on three returns, including a 24-yarder late in the fourth that gave the ‘Horns great field position. It’s something that has not been a huge issue for K-State this season (avg. 8.8 yards per return), but the ‘Cats will need to get it shored before the finale against Iowa State.
Parting Thought: Be Thankful
It seems appropriate with the upcoming week taken into consideration. Saturday’s game should serve as a reminder of how close K-State truly is to being a 2-9 football team right now. Even with that said, you have to love this team’s resolve and its ability to finish in close games. How the ‘Cats have managed to do it in seven of their nine wins this season is beyond me.
K-State will get a much needed week off to prepare for their home finale against an upstart
team that shocked college football pundits throughout the country with its 37-31 double-overtime upset of second-ranked Oklahoma State this past week. This off week should also help Klein, who has taken his fair share of hits through the course of the season (and has also been held out of practice the last two weeks). Iowa State
A lot of dominos have fallen to help put K-State in a very unique spot. With Oklahoma falling to Baylor, combined with
Oklahoma State’s slip-up in Ames, K-State could be in a position to tie for the Big 12 title with a win over . Potential bowl destinations are looking better by the day. For as emotionally draining as this season has been, there are plenty of things to be excited about right now for the Wildcat Nation. Iowa State