Having been dominated in nearly every offensive category, to still be able to find a way to win a conference road game against a BCS-ranked opponent would have left lesser coaches giddy.
Lesser coaches aren't Bill Snyder.
Days after fuming over his Kansas State offense's inability to produce against Texas' Big 12-leading defense, Snyder reiterated during the Big 12 coaches teleconference his disdain for the Wildcats' latest offensive showing.
"I don't think anything has changed in that respect," Snyder said. "We did not play well. It's quite simple."
There is something to be said or remembered for Snyder's reaction because there were two reasons, legitimate ones, why K-State had the problems it did moving the ball.
1) Collin Klein's health finally reached a point where it affected his decision making and play. Not that I or anyone would blame him. I've marveled for weeks at how the junior quarterback has attacked defenses for three hours (or longer) and then hobble into postgame interviews. But, against the Longhorns, for the first time it appeared Klein's zone reads and runs were affected at times by his not wanting to take another hit. Several times Hubert was given the ball where it didn't appear there was much room. At other times, instead of putting his head down and breaking through first contact, Klein looked to get down faster than we've grown accustomed to seeing.
2) Texas' defense was/is flat that good. The Longhorns are ranked tenth in the country in total defense for a reason. They're fast up front, have experienced linebackers and playmakers in the secondary. And, against Kansas State, they turned up the physical factor more than a few notches. Mack Brown said it was maybe the most physical defensive performance his team had ever had in his time at Austin. Look, we all like to fall back on the "more talent" story line when the Longhorns are involved, but this is what it looks like when it works. And, nobody, Bill Snyder included, can do a whole heck of a lot against an über-talented defensive unit that also played assignment-sound football. Some numbers: UT's worst defensive performance this year was 453 yards allowed to Oklahoma. In it's last four games, the yardage totals were 46 (KU), 411 (Texas Tech), 338 (Missouri) and 121 (K-State). You can't fake those numbers. Period.
And still, KSU came out with a win. I haven't done the research, but I would be willing to bet there hasn't been another team in Big 12 history to win a game, let alone a conference game on the road, with an injured-but-playing starting quarterback, with less than 125 yards of offense.
But, as Snyder's postgame and teleconference comments made clear, that game left the coach's hide more than a little chapped, and that should thoroughly excite K-State fans because I think it showed some insight into what Snyder believes his offense is now capable of the rest of the season - and into next year.
For the first time really, Snyder put away the 2.0 version of himself, the one that always had something positive to say about his players, regardless of performance, for the most part. Instead, it was the "vintage" version - whip-cracking, irritated, better-come-ready-to-work-next-week, it-wasn't-the-opponent-it-was-us Snyder.
It should have been music to those K-State fans who have been wishing for more.
For my money, it was the next evolutionary step in Snyder setting this team up for something bigger. Playtime and niceties are over, again, not for this year alone, but for down the road. You got here because you worked for it, and there's something to be said for that, but where you are is nowhere close to where I think you could be.
We've made several comparisons of past K-State teams to this one, attempting to overlay the current map to yesteryear's landscape. Through discussion, most have settled on this edition resembling a mid-1990s squad - good enough to beat the .500 and worse programs, but not quite elite.
It appears Snyder is laying the groundwork with the returning players to finish this season strong, indeed, but also to get their minds right for an important off-season necessarily to make another push (a legitimate one as opposed to squeaking out multiple, improbable wins) toward the top in 2012.