Big 12 Roundtable--Getting Personal

This week’s Roundtable is being hosted by Corn Nation.  JJ pulls no punches, so I’m not surprised we’re going to get a little personal.  Check in at Corn Nation for his thoughts and the roundup of all other Big 12 blogger comments.

1.  What did you learn, if anything, about your team on opening weekend? More specifically, did you see anything that brought complete elation or utter disappointment?

I learned a lot about K-State.  Josh Freeman is significantly improved from a year ago, from a standpoint of avoiding mistakes and making plays one small chunk of yardage at a time.  He did have two interceptions and no touchdown passes, but both interceptions were situational (a Hail Mary at the end of the first half and a desperation drive at the end of the game) and we won’t face a defense as good as Auburn’s the rest of the year.  I also learned that K-State’s defense is pretty solid in its own right.  Other than a blown coverage early in the game, the transition to the 3-4 looks like a success so far.  The Mob (dare I call it that again?) got a lot of pressure on Brandon Cox while also thoroughly shutting down Auburn’s rushing game.

We also learned some bad things.  The team is still undisciplined and penalty-prone.  The coaches, while coming up with a good game plan overall (see the first half, especially), didn’t always make the necessary adjustments during the game.  The most glaring was the inability to get Alesana Alesana some help blocking Quentin Groves late in the game.  Leaving a JuCo recruit all alone against a first-team all-SEC defensive end can be blamed squarely on the coaches.  And finally, the run blocking is woeful.  Some of that is due to Auburn’s powerful defensive front, but some of it is also due to inadequate offensive line play.  We need to see that improve.

I didn’t see anything that caused complete elation or utter disappointment.  The best thing I saw was our team walking into a hostile SEC environment and acting like it was no big deal.  Hell, I thought Josh Freeman looked like he needed a nap on that first drive.  My only moments of utter disappointment were when Cox found his tight end in the back of the end zone for the go-ahead score and when Groves slammed into Freeman’s back and caused a fumble.

2.  Twenty years from now, someone will ask you "Where Were You When Appalachian State beat Michigan?"  Describe what you were doing at the time, your reaction.

My buddy and I started a new tradition this weekend.  To put is simply, we made breakfast, drank screwdrivers, and watched GameDay and the games from 9 a.m. until about 3 p.m.  So that’s where I was, at his apartment enjoying the best weekend of the year.

We couldn’t get the game on TV, so we pulled up ESPN’s Insider scoreboard, which updates immediately.  When Appalachian State kicked the go-ahead field goal, we thought they had missed it because time ran off but the score didn’t change.  When the score did change, we jumped up and yelled and chest-bumped (yeah, I’ll admit it).  Then gametracker showed us Michigan had completed a long pass and it looked like they had a chip shot field goal to win it.  Obviously we didn’t see the block, but the clock ticked down and the game went final.  We just leaned back and said, "Wow."

3.  Given the big event of this past weekend, what's the worst you've ever felt about your team?

Hmm, I was still a high school kid in Nebraska when Sirr Parker tore out Wildcat Nation’s collective heart in 1998, so I can’t claim that one.  The worst I’ve ever felt would probably be in 2003 when I heard John Saunders say that Ell Roberson had been arrested and charged with rape only 24 hours before our Fiesta Bowl game with Ohio State.  Never mind that neither of those accusations were true, John, you freaking moron.

The worst I’ve ever felt at a game was also in 2003 when the Roberson-less Wildcats lost to Marshall.  I honestly felt before that season that K-State was a legitimate national title contender, and there’s no way in the world we would have lost that game with Roberson in the lineup.  Maybe we wouldn’t have beat Oklahoma State and Texas even if Roberson had stayed healthy, but having the dream end like that was cruel.

4.  Take a classic - like Homer's Odyssey, Lord of the Flies, Little Women, or, heck, even the latest Simpsons Movie and tell me how it relates to your team this season.

I’m not well-versed in the classics, so I’ll say Ayn Rand’s "The Fountainhead."  To tailor it to our season, it’s the story of an architect (Howard Roark) who knows he’s better than anyone else gives him credit for, and has to fight through years of disappointment before he finally gets the respect he deserves.  Rand purists will crucify me for that description, but it’s fairly accurate.  The glaring difference is that Roark is the greatest architect in the world, whereas I’m not sure K-State is even the best team in the Big 12 North.  However, K-State has received little respect this preseason.  Most people focused on Missouri and Nebraska as the favorites for the North, considering K-State an also-ran likely to finish third (at best).  Before the game against Auburn, there were those who speculated we might get beat so badly we’d need a running clock to keep it respectable.  Finally, Ron Prince does tend to do things his own way, but that doesn’t mean it’s a worse way.  I guess I'll let 311 speak for me here (think "F*** the naysayers, 'cuz they don't mean a thing!").

5.  It wasn't just by accident you got here. Somewhere, some time, there was someone who influenced you to become a fan of your team. Tell that story.

I don’t know that it was really any one person.  I came to K-State as a freshman in 2002, and really had no intention of becoming a K-State fan.  In fact, I planned to sell my tickets so I could play golf at Colbert Hills on Saturdays.  However, I went to the first game and the atmosphere and passion of the fans got into my blood.  The fact that K-State was a powerhouse that year didn’t hurt anything.  Probably the seminal moment was the victory over USC in Manhattan early in 2002.  So I can’t really say any single person influenced me to become a K-State fan, it was more like the collective effort of Powercat Nation.

6.  Give us your nominations for the offensive and defensive players of the week within the conference.

Offensive: Marlon Lucky, Nebraska
This is a pretty obvious choice.  Usually I try to avoid obvious choices, but when they’re clearly better than any other choice, it’d be stupid not to.  Lucky had 30 carries for 233 yards and three touchdowns.  Jeez, show me a line that’s even close to that.  Granted, Nevada’s defensive linemen average only 268 pounds, but Lucky still ran wild.

Defensive: Marcus Watts, K-StateI’ll admit, I didn’t watch other games closely enough to see who had a good game, and I didn’t do a whole lot of research for this.  Watts’ line against Auburn included seven tackles, an interception, half a tackle for loss, and one pass breakup.  I’m also giving him the benefit of the doubt because Watts faced probably the best opposition.

Photo credits: Flickr, Flickr, K-StateSports.com

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