I’m sensing a huge Gameday (as in ESPN’s College Gameday) coming in a week and I’m not talking about KU! Kansas State has handled everything thrown its way and continues to move forward without a loss. The Texas tech game was won on the backs of special teams and the defense, which is fine by all cheering on the Cats. This weekend brings a game in Lawrence against everything that is unholy but until then, continue reading for the good, bad, and ugly of the Texas Tech game.
Quick Starts… Getting early scores and stops is so important for the style of football K-State plays. A ball control, ground and pound offense makes it hard to come back from a deficit and if the Wildcats get too far behind it could spell disaster. In a play that’s becoming the norm, Nigel Malone jumped the 5 yard out route during TxTech’s first drive and returned it for 6. The best part of the play was that it was made by being defensively perfect. Malone got the INT by being assignment sound in the zone. TxTech QB Doege bet that Malone was going to follow the receiver crossing his face into the part of the zone he shouldn’t have been in. If Malone hadn’t been assignment sound, Doege would have completed for at least 5 yards and possibly a first down to continue the drive. Instead, Malone stayed where he was supposed to be and 37 seconds into the game K-State had a defensive touchdown and the lead. K-State also had the same quick start in second half. After getting the kick-off, Klein led the Cats on a great drive for a touchdown that covered 77 yards on 8 plays. The most impressive aspect was seeing it done by opening it up a bit and watching Klein’s passing. The cap was a pretty pass to the back corner of end zone where Chris Harper ate it up and showed K-State was ready for half number 2.
Turnovers… Kansas State is starting to make a name for itself as a team that forces teams that normally protect the ball well into turnover machines. They opened the game with a pick 6 and then closed the book on it during the 4th quarter. With absolutely nothing decided yet, K-State turned TxTech into jello. It began with Meshak Williams’ strip of Doege with 13:24 left in the game. That gave K-State the short field on Tech’s 34 yard line which unfortunately resulted in nothing but a turnover on downs. On Tech’s very next play, with 10:59 left, Tysyn Hartman jumped all over the pass and intercepted Doege which again put K-State at TxTech’s 21 yard line for a short field. That interception resulted in a TD and gave K-State a 41-31 lead. A few short plays after the after the kickoff, Doege threw another interception to David Garrett with 9:28 left. In the span of 3 minutes, there were 3 turnovers and a quarterback who throws the ball all the time and had only one interception entering the game, finished with 3.
Pursuing Quick Passes… Kansas State’s defensive backs and linebackers deserve a huge amount of credit for this win. Everyone knew that Texas Tech was going to throw the ball a gazillion times and they were going to gain yards. The trick is limiting how many yards they get after those quick 3-5 yard passes. K-State’s defensive backs shut the yards after catch down and showed their great ability to close space and make tackles. It was also nice to see them really wrapping up and taking the receivers down instead of just trying to knock people over. I also noticed the DBs forced the WRs who were trying to block them into the path of the man with the ball, which closed any open space quickly. On top of all that, there was usually another Wildcat appearing to help make the tackle which shows just how much effort they put into pursuing the ball. Job well done and makes the spread offense a whole lot less intimidating.
Guidry… Dude was a beast. He had a great game overall but stepped it up in his special teams role. Raphael Guidry blocked two field goals, each time going straight up the middle of the Tech field goal team. I noticed on both blocks he was able to get through by executing perfect swim moves. If you don’t know what that is, go watch the replay and you’ll see the primo example to teach from. Disrupting plays is great but taking points off the board is huge.
Lockett… Lockett makes this category for more than his great kick return to almost (thanks Cantele) even the game. He saw the lane to cutback into and had the help of great blocking as he didn’t even get a hand put on him. But what I really like is seeing a freshman emerging as a trustworthy receiver as well. He’s come up big in spots and is making Wildcat fans excited to watch him for some time to come.
2nd Half Revival… After a pretty sad showing from both sides of the ball in the 1st half, the offense and defense thankfully woke up. The defense limited Tech to less than 200 yards (after giving up 387 in the 1st half) and most importantly only 6 points while the offense gained around 250 yards and put the game away after gaining less than 100 yards in the first 30 minutes.
Passing Defense… Against a team that throws like Texas tech, you can’t just go on numbers. Those are bloated anytime you face 63 pass attempts. But while the numbers of this game don’t cause a whole lot of concern, the coverage on deep throws certainly does. It’s gotten better since the Baylor game but against Tech there were way too many seams straight down the middle of the defensive coverage. Long passes completed into the heart of the defense are the main chunk of the 296 yards passing in the 1st half. The only positive anyone could muster from this was that the receivers only got completely behind the coverage once for a touchdown.
Choosing to Pass… Kansas State is a running team. Everyone knows it but it still works well to the tune of 6-0. That’s why I hate seeing 4 of first 6 plays of any game being called passes. After failing in two possessions, mercifully the third possession returned to running the ball. K-State finally ran it 3 times in a row and miracle of miracles, they got a first down. We are a clock eating, pound it out, shove it down your throat team. I’m fine with eventually opening it up, (like in the beginning of the 2nd half) but make a team prove they can stop the run first. Please no more throwing on first downs either!
Jumping Offsides… For all the good the defensive front four did, they almost canceled it out with their constant jumping before the snap. Doege noticed each time and used those free plays as opportunities to go deep down the field. He smartly knew an interception wouldn’t keep and gained some major yardage on K-State not being disciplined. Overall, K-State didn’t keep this game as clean as the others either. They finished with 10 penalties for 78 yards which seemed awfully high.
1st Half Offense… I don’t think I need to go into much depth here. Horrible play resulted in horrible stats: 94 yards total offense (45 rushing, 49 passing), 3 for 7 on 3rd downs, and 14:03 minutes of possession. Ugggh.
Tech’s Final Decisions… Why did the Red Raiders decide to run? I’ll never know but I’ll always be grateful. On their second to last possession, Tech ran the ball on both 2nd and 3rd and goal from within K-State’s 5 yard line. Tech is absolutely made for completing short passes and I can only assume they would have found a receiver open for a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal. Then on the final possession, after making sure the run wasn’t working on the previous possession, they decided to give it one more shot on 1st and 10. K-State stuffed it easily and sealed it after 3 straight incompletions.
Missed Extra Point/FG… What the heck Cantele? The missed 31 yarder with just over 5 minutes remaining that would have put K-State up by 14 was bad. That’s makeable and expected from a FBS scholarshipped kicker. But how in the world do you shank an extra point so hard it misses?! I know kicking is much harder than it appears but I know for a fact I can kick an extra point. This is exactly why there’s no confidence in a game that comes down to K-State’s special teams.
Tuberville Halftime Interview… I hope Texas Tech enjoyed leading at halftime. As he headed into the locker room, Tuberville spoke with a smug, punky smile and said, “We can move the ball on just about anybody.” You could tell he thought he had already bested Bill Snyder and that he was 30 minutes away from ending K-State’s run. Tuberville finished the halftime speech to the camera by saying, “We usually play better in the second half.” Nope.