This was the performance K-State fans were waiting for. Scratch that – this was the score K-State fans were waiting for. The Wildcats fell short of playing a complete game thanks to a pitiful first quarter, and a muffed punt return by Tramaine Thompson with just under five to play gave UMass the chance to cut the score but couldn’t come up with anything.
The first half went nothing as planned. The second went exactly as planned. K-State started the game facing a 7-6 deficit, looking outmatched against the lowly UMass Minutemen. The Wildcats then scored 21 straight points in the second quarter to take a 27-7 lead into halftime on their way to a 37-7 victory.
I’ll be honest – I was nervous after that first quarter. The offense didn’t manage a single point – the touchdown was due to a pick-six by Kip Daily, and the Jack Cantele missed the PAT after a bad snap. Jake Waters threw a ridiculous interception (he must have a quota of one per game), the offense managed just 33 yards despite receiving the ball to start the half, and the defense was as leaky as ever. Then Daniel Sams came into the game (and yes, I do believe this was the pivotal moment).
Sams saw his second play of the game come on 3rd and one, and easily picked up the first down with a 15 yard scamper. He then ran 37 more yards to get K-State inside the five. After another run for nothing, Sams kept the ball to get his team to the three. On third down Sams ran the option, pitchee to Hubert, and Hubert was stopped at the half yard. If Collin Klein was still here, that would have been a touchdown as Klein would have kept the ball a half second longer, drawing the defender in and opening up another inch for Hubert. As it was, Sams punched it in on fourth and goal, but barely. This O-Line is not the line I remember from last year. Sams with six carries, 58 yards, one touchdown at that point, and I remarked that Waters is about to lose his starting role.
In fairness, every Wildcat finished the first half with a solid rushing performance, and this is how the run offense looked after 30 minutes of play:
Notably, Robert Rose had his first career touchdown. Two players went down with injuries – TE Zach Trujillo and DT Chaquell Reed, but both bounced back after a little time on the sidelines. UMass dual-threat quarterback A.J. Doyle looked good, which makes the defense look bad, and Dorrian Roberts will probably give me nightmares following his performance. If a receiver was open and had to be dragged down, odds were that Roberts was responsible for the coverage. The redshirt senior did not see any playing time last year after transferring from Hutch Community College, so hopefully this nonconference experience will help prepare him for Big 12 play.
After a kick 0ff that only got to the 17-yard line, Jack Cantele was solid the rest of the way, finding the end zone on every kick off. Notably, after two straight 100 yard rushing games, Tyler Lockett went without a catch the first half as K-State looked to establish John Hubert early and often. Then, with three minutes left in the third quarter, Daniel Sams came into the game for more than just picking up a third-and-short – he came in to play as a quarterback (albeit a predominantly running one).
One interesting formation K-State rolled out was a dual-fullback alignment. Both Glenn Gronkowski and Zach Nemecheck lined up in the backfield on a couple of plays, essentially saying, “hey, Sams is about to run the ball. We are going to block you, Sams will pick up a first down, and you cannot stop us.” On the note of Gronkowski, the redshirt freshman fullback had a beautiful 50-yard reception from Waters in the third for the only score of the quarter.
Waters would come back with a little under ten in the final quarter, starting off in the pistol formation that Sams used to decimate UMass earlier in the game. After a handoff to Robert Rose, Waters had a nice 13 yard run on a delay, followed by a couple more rushes by Rose as the coaching staff appeared ready to run down the clock with what may be next week’s second string (and yes, that includes Waters). He was a game manager the rest of the way, failing to lead another scoring drive but taking time off the clock to secure the victory. Waters may have had one more shot, but Tramaine Thompson fumbled on a punt return that gave UMass another scoring opportunity that was halted when K-State came up with the stop on fourth with less than two minutes to play. From there K-State was led by a group of back ups on a clock-killing drive to finish off the last two minutes, including two runs by DeMarcus Robinson. Robinson, the junior and #18 running back in his class who’s struggled to find the field, finished with three carries (all at the end of the game) for 21 yards.
Quick statistics to consider:
- Jake Waters finished just 5/10 passing with 115 yards (average of 5.8 per pass) with two touchdowns and an interception. Daniel Sams finally used his shoulder this season (barely), completing 2/2 for 12 yards.
- John Hubert finally had a 100 yard rushing game, finishing with 118 yards on 18 carries (6.6 average) and a long of 24. No touchdowns.
- Almost all of Waters’ passing yardage went to running backs. John Hubert and Glenn Gronkowski led the team with 50 yards receiving each (Hubert had two catches, Gronkowski had two). While Hubert’s 24-yard reception was a nice catch in the flat, Gronkowski had about 45 yards after catch on his reception. Tyler Lockett led “receivers” with two catches for 13 yards.
- Minuteman quarterback A.J. Doyle went 21/31 for 186 yards. This kid is a running quarterback and didn’t even earn the start last week. The secondary has to get better yesterday. Especially Dorrian Roberts.
- Kip Daily had two interceptions. Somebody buy that kid a beer.
- Mark Krause didn’t get a lot of practice, but did have two punts. Both downed inside the 20. I’m happy with the punter situation.
- Tramaine Thompson returned a punt for a yard. Far cry from what we expected following last week’s performance.
We’ll be doing more analysis throughout the week, but I’m still not sure what to make of this team. It looks like Texas will need to show us whether this K-State team is a legit Big 12 title contender or not, because I’ve thrown up my hands in trying to understand this team. At the end of the day, this was a 30 point win, and the Longhorns have no idea what to expect when the Wildcats visit Austin next week. Texas State Champions.