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K-State got beat last night by North Dakota State. Straight up, the Wildcats were beaten 24-21. There was no trick play, Statue of Liberty call following a hook=and-lateral that allows Boise State to overcome Oklahoma. The Bison showed up to play last night, and the Wildcats didn’t. Earlier this week we published our five things to watch. Here’s what we saw.
1. K-State’s Interior Defensive Line
Chaquil Reed and Travis Britz took over the defensive tackle positions, and were responsible for stopping a rushing attack that was brutal last year. That rushing attack appeared brutal again last night. Granted, this was a group (losing) effort. I still say Ryan Mueller performed admirably in his start, and Marquel Bryant had some good plays. But the running backs were hitting big holes, and the linebackers weren’t there to meet them either. Remember when Lache Seastrunk sliced and diced his way through the defense last November? Last night brought up nightmares I worked all summer to vanquish.
2. The Playbook
Never thought I’d say this, but K-State was outcoached Friday night. I’d talk about the run game, but there was none – the Wildcats averaged 1.8 yards per attempt. Why? Jake Waters looked decent, but couldn’t put together sustained drives. So Daniel Sams is inserted for a play after Waters has to take a time out after failing to get the play off in time, and takes it up the hole for 17 yards and a touchdown. Sams is a super dynamic athlete, and if that’s what he’s capable of, he needs to be on the field. Period.
K-State played agressive defense. I’m not sure what it was worth. There was some good pressure on the quarterback, but only one interception was forced, and nobody was ever home to stop the run. North Dakota State averaged five yards per rush, and it wasn’t due to one or two big plays; the Bison just pounded for five yards at a time. K-State held them to seven points in the first half, but couldn’t keep up with the second-half adjustments.
3. Can Jake Waters Be Devastating On The Next Level?
On the night, Waters completed 21-of-29 passes – good enough for a 72.4 percent completion rate. I can’t argue with that. Both touchdown passes were big strikes (one to Tramaine Thompson, the other to Tyler Locket), and he averaged 9.7 yards per attempt. He also threw two interceptions (though the last was at the end of the game when he had less than 30 seconds to drive the down across the field for a score and was simply trying too hard).
Waters did a decent job scrambling to buy time, but the notion that he can get yards with his feet was put the rest last night – he is not a dual-threat quarterback. He had an 11-yard rush, but was otherwise incapable of picking up yards on his feet. Including the three sacks, he had one net yard last night. This goes back to the coaching issue – he received a couple quarterback draw calls and utterly failed to do anything with the opportunity. Of course, the offensive line didn’t look ready to run block for anyone.
4. Special Teams Performance
Jack Cantele wasn’t given an option to attempt a field, but he allowed two kick returns on four boots (the other two were touchbacks). New punter Mark Krause had five punts and averaged 43.8 yards with one downed inside the ten and another that should have been but ended up being a touchback. The two new legs looked good, although they weren’t forced into any really difficult circumstances.
It was impossible to judge the kick return game – North Dakota kicked the first four short to prevent Tyler Lockett from having an opportunity for a return (working with a short field, the offense should have had more success). On the last kick Thompson and Lockett cheated up to take advantage of the short kick, and NDSU kicked it deep and out of their range. Thompson did not have a punt return (neither did anyone else), the kick-off unit allowed an average of 29 yards on two returns (not good) and a 49 yard punt return (terrible). Special teams were an advantage last year. There’s a lot of work to be down in 2013.
5. The Little Things
Well, yes and no here. K-State only had two penalties for ten yards. The first was a false start on tackle Cornelius Lucas during the team’s first drive, and the second was a delay of game. That’s nice, clean play, but delays of game were a problem. The team would have taken two more but the coaching staff bailed Jake Waters out at the last second each time when he couldn’t get the play called in time.
Well, that’s all I have at this time. The (figurative) hangover from last night’s loss is still very much real, and hopefully we can piece together exactly what went wrong at a later date.