Part four of our reaction to K-State’s ability to answer the questions and bottle the goals for OU posed by NewsOK.com.
Goal 1: Don’t allow any big special teams plays.
Outcome 1: Mixed bag.
Bill Snyder’s approach to football revolves around ball control. It requires a good ground game, limiting turnovers, and owning the better special teams unit. The rocket known as Tyler Lockett was held to one kickoff return for 22 yards. The Wildcats only returned two kickoffs all game for an average of 25 yards and had no punt returns. In fact, the only special teams play of note by Lockett was a near turnover after a bouncing punt glanced him as he attempted to run out of its way (it was eventually ruled that the ball bounced off an OU player first). Oklahoma did an effective job of neutralizing the Wildcat return game by targeting the sidelines on punts and launching the ball well into the end zone on kickoffs.
As unspecial as the return game was, punter Ryan Doerr was rightfully recognized as the Big XII player of the week after landing all five of his punts inside the 20 yard line – including two inside the ten yard line. The average punt was downed at the 12 yard line. This forced Landry Jones and company to march almost the entire length of the field every possession, helping K-State win the battle of field possession. Kicker Anthony Cantele was also good in doing exactly what was expected of him; perfect on PATs, nailed his only field goal attempt of 23 yards, and more often than not stuck the Sooners for touchbacks on his kickoffs.
When people talk big special teams plays, they’re usually alluding to exciting returns and blocked kicks or punts. K-State failed to feature either. However, that doesn’t mean the special teams didn’t come up big – Doerr was one of the cogs that won the game Saturday night. His ability to pin Oklahoma deep with every punt lengthened the field too far for the Oklahoma offense to drive against an aggressive K-State defense.