No, I'm not going to be a cloud-cover pumper, as the title of this post may imply. In my initial opportunity to actually watch the Cats play this year, I found plenty to like. But I don't believe the 69-10 final score by itself indicates a lot about this team one way or another. With those thoughts in mind, onward.
What I liked...
Special teams being special. Two blocked punts for touchdowns. Averaging 17.4 yards and 26.0 yards on punt and kickoff returns, respectively. I also liked what was missing from the special-teams stats, namely any punts by K-State.
Josh Freeman. 16-for-21, 288 yards, two touchdowns, zero interceptions. Two games, five touchdowns passes, zero interceptions for Freeman. Yes, it was North Texas and Montana State, but he's taking care of the ball.
Brandon Banks. I don't want to give this kid a nickname that makes light of his (lack of) size, but he has to be a fan favorite. Six catches, 95 yards, and a touchdown yesterday. I keep worrying that he's going to get lit up, and No. 27 for MSU tried his best a couple times, but he's so shifty it's hard to get a hit on him. Even better, he caught a few balls over the middle of the field.
The 'other' receivers. I shouldn't single out Banks over the other guys, like Aubrey Quarles, Lamark Brown and Ernie Pierce, because the other guys were pretty good, too. Quarles' touchdown catch while being interfered with was a thing of beauty. Brown looks like he's solidified the biggest question mark we had about him: his hands. Pierce is in the same boat as Brown, very much improved from last year. I'd like to get Deon Murphy more involved, but how can you complain when his one reception went for 70 yards? Well, other than to say that he should have been able to outrun the safety, but whatever. He may still be a little dinged up.
While the running game hasn't been particularly impressive to me, it's quietly getting the job done. I can live with an average of 4.1 yards per carry, although against a team like Montana State, that number should be higher. Justin Woods was impressive late in the game.
Getting some experience for the backups. No fewer than 46 backups saw playing time in this game.
Finally, but certainly not least, a solid defensive effort. Montana State's only touchdown came on a short field after an ill-advised (more on that later) onside kick attempt. Other than that, MSU was frustrated all day long, picking up only 191 total yards. The backup defenders played well, too, holding the Bobcats to only a field goal in the second half. Of course, it looked like MSU wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of Manhattan by then, but still a very good effort.
No apparent injuries. Always good to get through a game unscathed.
What I didn't like...
The onside kick in the first half. We don't need to do that against MSU. On the bright side, it showed Brooks Rossman that he needs to kick those onsiders a little harder.
While the offense wasn't bad -- in fact, it was actually exceedingly good -- I don't think we have should get too carried away by the 69 points on the board. We scored six offensive touchdowns, but two of those came on drives that started inside MSU's 10-yard line. We never really put together a long, sustained drive that ended in a touchdown, but I guess we didn't need to given MSU's mistakes. Maybe my frustration is more that I didn't get to see that than that our offense didn't do it, given that we never punted.
The bad hold on the third-quarter attempt. The only real miscue on special teams.
K-State gets a week off to rest and prepare for its trip to Louisville on Wednesday, September 17. The Cardinals are 1-1, with a 27-2 loss to Kentucky on opening weekend, and a 51-10 win over Tennessee Tech yesterday. More on the Cardinals in the ensuing week and a half.
Around the Big 12...
Again, thanks to DirecTV, I got to see parts of a lot of Big 12 games. Six, to be exact. Thoughts below.
Nebraska 35, San Jose State 12
Nebraska went into the fourth quarter clinging to a 14-9 lead. On the day, the Huskers scored exactly three offensive touchdowns, two of them in the fourth quarter after Niles Paul's kickoff return touchdown essentially determined the outcome. Nebraska was outgained by SJSU and, but for SJSU's kicking situation that would rival that of most middle schools, the Huskers would have gone to the fourth quarter on the short end of the stick.
Nebraska appears to have severe problems along the offensive line, as Matt Slauson didn't start and Lydon Murtha didn't play at all. The patchwork line gave up two sacks on the opening "drive." The running game couldn't crack the century mark. The defense missed assignments and gave up a lot of yards to SJSU. Not a pretty game for Nebraska.
For More: Corn Nation
KU 29, Louisiana Tech 0
First of all, KU has one helluva defense. La Tech managed only 267 yards on the day. Defensive efforts like that will keep KU in a lot of games this year.
And that's probably a good thing because, outside of Todd Reesing (32-for-38, 412 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs), the KU offense isn't very good. Offensive line troubles continue to hold KU back, as they rushed for only 126 yards on 33 carries. The "Jocques Crawford-for-2,000-yard" watch enters week two, and after two weeks Crawford is a mere 1,951 yards short of his goal for the year after picking up 17 yards on seven carries. As a team, KU averaged 3.8 yards per carry.
Next up for KU is a Friday trip to South Florida, who got by UCF in overtime last night.
For More: Rock Chalk Talk
Oklahoma 52, Cincinnati 26
A big third quarter put this one out of reach, although OU didn't look like itself in the first half. Still, the Sooners picked up nearly 600 yards on the game, and Sam Bradford, outside of two head-scratching interceptions, was his usual good self. So in sum, not bad for what looked like kind of an "off" day.
Oklahoma hits the road next week for a matchup with Washington, who was one really stupid penalty away from overtime with BYU this week. Jake Locker should be a good test for the OU defense. If they shut him down, the rest of the Big 12 should consider themselves on notice.
For More: Crimson and Cream Machine
Texas A&M 28, New Mexico 22
Didn't see much of this one. ESPN's Tim Griffin noted that Aggie QB Stephen McGee got hurt, so backup Jarrod Johnson saw some action and played pretty well. We flipped to this one just as New Mexico was going for two, but we thought they were driving for a touchdown with the score 28-22 because the chain gang sign indicated it was first down. Whatever. A&M hung on, despite being outgained by 144 yards and only managing a total of 236 yards of total offense. Gag.
Texas A&M takes a week off before welcoming the Miami Hurricanes to College Station. Miami played tough against Florida last night, but is still pretty young. Of course, A&M appears to be just plain awful right now, so even beating the young Canes at home could be a tall order.
Texas 42, UTEP 13
This game reminded me that, if I should ever get so lost as to end up way the hell out in El Paso, Texas, I hope there's a football game going on. I'd like to see a game in that stadium. UTEP somehow outgained Texas, but this game was never really in doubt. Well, maybe it was; I fell asleep at haltime and didn't watch the second half because the overindulgence in beer and food all day caught up to me.
The Arkansas Razorbacks pay a visit to beautiful Austin, Texas next Saturday to play UT. The Razorbacks struggled yesterday against Louisiana-Monroe and the week before against Western Illinois and appear to be completely overmatched against the Longhorns.
For More: Burnt Orange Nation
Baylor 51, Northwestern State 6
Freshman quarterback Robert Griffin was good yesterday, completing 15-of-19 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns. Baylor rolled up 537 total yards en route to an easy win.
The Bears get a chance for another win next week when anemic Washington State travels to Waco.
Colorado 31, Eastern Washington 24
In a game that must have been giving Buff fans flashbacks to 2006's debacle against Montana State, CU managed to sneak by EWU. That's probably all the positive CU partisans can take from this game, as EWU took Colorado to the wire before fading in the fourth quarter. The Buffs need some help on the offensive line, as the gave up two sacks and only managed 126 rushing yards on 33 attempts.
Colorado's takes a week off before welcoming West Virginia to Boulder for a Thursday-night tilt. This game looked a lot more exciting two weeks ago than it does now after WVU's collapse against East Carolina yesterday.
For More: The Ralphie Report
Iowa State 48, Kent State 28
I'm not really sure what to make of this game. Kent State handily outyarded ISU, 410-374, and yet was out of the game by the start of the fourth quarter. Kent State probably isn't very good, losing as they did the first week (21-0 to Boston College...who lost at home to Georgia Tech yesterday).
The Cy-Hawk Trophy is on the line next weekend as Iowa State travels to Iowa City to pay a visit to the Iowa Hawkeyes. Will Iowa be a Cyclone State or a Hawkeye State for the upcoming year? Find out next Saturday!
For More: Clone Chronicles
Missouri 52, SEMO 3
Mizzou is good. SEMO is bad. I don't have a clue why Gary Pinkel bothered to play Jeremy Maclin.
Next week the Tigers take on Nevada, who gave Texas Tech a fairly tough game this weekend in the desert. Wait, I forgot, saying "the desert" doesn't narrow down which venue was used when talking about Nevada and Texas Tech. Anyway, the game was at Nevada.
For More: Rock M Nation
Texas Tech 35, Nevada 19
The Red Raiders got a win despite Graham Harrell having perhaps his worst game ever. What Harrell lacked, Michael Crabtree made up for by racking up 158 receiving yards on a mere seven catches.
Texas Tech welcomes Southern Methodist to Lubbock next weekend. The Mustangs got hammered by Rice in their first game, 56-27.
For More: Double T Nation
Oklahoma State 56, Houston 37
Good solid win for Okie State over a UH team that could be pretty good in Conference USA this year. Wish this one would have been on TV over some of the other crap to which we were subjected.
The Cowboys take on FCS Missouri State next weekend.