Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Texas took a 10-7 lead into halftime in 2012, but K-State bounced back in a big way to win not only the game but also a Big 12 conference title. So when the Wildcats went to the locker room down 17-7 this year, there was reason to believe things would still be okay. The problem was, in 2012 K-State knew who could produce when it needed points: Collin Klein. In 2013, the team didn’t even know which quarterback would be on the field half the time. However, Texas had quarterback issues of its own as multiple big hits on David Ash reaggravated his concussion and thrust backup Case McCoy back into the spotlight. Still, the Longhorn running backs were too much on a night when K-State was supposed to win the rushing title.
The Wildcats displayed some of the most predictable play calling in football this year, rivaling what fans saw in the upset loss to North Dakota State. The first half saw Daniel Sams running every time he came in the game, with Jake Waters passing almost every play in the first half. In the second half, the Wildcats took the opening kick-off and Jake Waters put together a nice drive with a couple of runs himself (one productive, the other not so much), but John Hubert fumbled the pitch on an option run on the Texas 45 to give McCoy the opportunity to redeem himself after falling short against K-State in past years. Texas faked a punt on 4th-and-2 for a first down, an offsides penalty on K-State gave the Longhorns even more field position, and Jonathan Gray carried the Longhorns to a touchdown (Texas didn’t throw a pass, but Gray had six carries) and a 23-7 lead.
Jake Waters was the quarterback of the second half for K-State, and that’s fine – if Bill Snyder believes his arm gives K-State the best chance to win, I won’t second-guess him. I only know what I saw, which was a number of attempts to run some sort of poor man’s zone read that ended in runs of minimal gain. Waters may have speed, but he’s not quick enough to execute that (important distinction) and often goes down when hit. The only purpose of having him run a delay to the outside would appear to be keeping defenses honest. But if that’s the case, why not have Sams throw more? (Surely a rant for another day.)
K-State began the fourth quarter with a John Hubert touchdown up the middle on a drive that the Wildcat running back seemed to largely carry on his back (although Waters did have his one good run for 14 yards). However, Texas drove back down the field again and a Malcolm Brown touchdown run from the one-foot line put Texas up 31-14.
Texas’s up-tempo offense had let up in the second half the past two games, but there was no let-down this time as the Wildcat defensive line appeared to respond well in the second half, but struggled through much of the first half to keep up with the short time between plays. Dorrian Roberts continued to struggle in coverage, getting burned early in the first half on a deep ball and then giving up huge cushions the rest of the night.
K-State did try to come alive with five minutes to play, as a huge pass to Tyler Lockett got K-State to the one and Waters punched it in, getting K-State to within 31-21. Another stop by the Wildcats and a couple more solid passes had K-State inside the red zone and ready to take on the comeback of the year. However, Jake Waters was running with a loose grip on the ball, and when his hand hit Cody Whitehair’s backside (buttfumble?), it popped out, Texas recovered at the three yard line, and an opportunity to pull within 31-28 with 2:30 to play was squashed as Case McCoy came in to run out the clock.
Texas did punt with 1:44 left to play after K-State burned its time outs and Tramaine Thompson returned the ball to the ten, but a sack of Waters with no time outs brought the clock to under a minute and a false start by Thompson not only knocked K-State farther back but also, but rule ran ten seconds off the clock and started running the clock again. A forced fumble when Waters was hit while trying to pass sealed the deal, and Texas beat K-State for the first time in six tries.
- Texas recorded four sacks on the night. K-State only had one.
- No turnovers for Texas. Two fumbles for K-State. Jake Waters has at least one turnover in every game this year.
- Overall yardage was close, 454-391 in favor of Texas.
- Texas was 2-3 on fourth down attempts. You have to stop those.
- 15 penalties accepted on the night – seven against K-State, eight on Texas. Even more called, but declined.
- K-State edged Texas in time of possession, 32 minutes to 28.
- Tyler Lockett had a monster game. 13 catches, 237 yards, average of 18.2 yards per reception.
- Eight Longhorns caught passes and five had carries. Texas did a good job of rotating players in and out and spreading the field.
- Despite the issues in the secondary, K-State still held Texas to 19/34 passing and just 6.6 yards per pass.
- Lot of blame to go around, lot of things to address. I guess that’s not a statistic. It is a fact. Fortunately, Wildcats have the week off before playing Oklahoma State. The comeback attempt reflected the potential this club has, now it’s time to get back to another bowl game.