K-State's season might be done, but there's still another week left in the Big 12 regular season — starting with that amazing shootout last night between the Aggies and the Longhorns. Plus, I thought this would be a good chance to look at our season-ending numbers, so click the jump for my usual statistical/opinionated analysis.
K-State (37 | -6)
K-State (104 | +1)
K-State (80 | -5)
K-State (88 | -13)
K-State (19 | +4)
Pass Efficiency Defense
K-State (81 | -6)
K-State (41 | +6)
K-State (48 | +11)
K-State (64 | +9)
K-State (45 | +2)
K-State (8 | -2)
K-State (26 | -7)
K-State (79 | +11)
K-State (88 | -10)
Granted, these aren't 100-percent final statistics because there still are games to be played, but they're close enough for our purposes: Evaluating the improvement (or perhaps lack thereof) from last year's team.
Rushing offense went from 80th in the country in 2008 to 37th in 2009. Clearly, Bill Snyder understood more than Ron Prince that running the ball is important. Having Daniel Thomas didn't hurt, either.
Passing offense tumbled from 19th to 104th. Some dropoff was to be expected with Josh Freeman leaving for the NFL, but not that much. That is a stat we desperately need to, and I believe will, improve dramatically if we are to compete for the North title in 2010.
Total offense fell from 38th to 80th. Again, in sore need of overall improvement, but especially in the passing game.
Scoring offense dropped from 21st to 88th. Same story, different statistic. And it was made even worse by our goal-line flubs in the last two weeks, but not punching it in once we penetrated the red zone was a bugaboo all season.
Rushing defense jumped from 114th to 19th. Our defensive coaching staff deserves a huge shout-out, because that simply is stellar and is more than I thought was possible with just one year. If you ever doubt the power of coaching, just reflect on that stat.
Pass efficiency defense climbed from 93rd to 81st. Some improvement, but we can do better. Clearly, the Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Missouri games didn't help us much here.
Total defense went from 114th to 41st. Way to go, Chris Cosh and Vic Koenning.
Scoring defense improved from a tie for 110th to 48th. Again, that's just remarkable improvement in just one year.
Net punting went from 108th to 64th. Ryan Doerr made a lot of difference this season.
Kickoff returns actually improved from 25th to eighth. Hard to expect any improvement from a Top 25 ranking, but we did it. God, we're going to miss Brandon Banks.
Turnover margin flipped from 109th to 26th. If you're looking for a single stat that explains the turnaround from Big 12 cellar to North contention, this is it. Granted, there only was a one-game improvement in the win-loss record, but this is one case where that record does not tell the whole story. Turnover margin is not really something you can control, because luck plays a huge role in it, but a team that does all the little things right usually will find the ball bouncing its way more often than not. The 2009 Cats certainly did.
Pass defense went from 97th to 79th. Again, marginal improvement, but more should be expected in 2010.
Passing efficiency fell from 41st to 88th. Gotta work on that.
And now for a few bonus stats. First, sacks stayed about the same, from a tie for 85th in 2008 to 80th in 2009. Still, that speaks to some improvement given that we basically were without Brandon Harold for the whole year and had to field a defensive line assembled from equal parts Jeffrey Fitzgerald, converted offensive players, spit, glue and prayer.
Tackles for loss, meanwhile, dropped from a tie for 53rd to 82nd. That's a bit depressing, and it speaks to the inability to generate a consistent push all year. It's only going to get fixed with better recruiting and time, unfortunately.
Even worse, sacks allowed decreased from 30th to 72nd. Although the offensive line generally seemed to play better this year, this stat was not a good thing. Part of it is because Freeman was so damn hard to bring down and he did a good job of getting rid of the ball most of the time, and thus part of the blame lies at the feet of Carson Coffman and Grant Gregory. But the line still has room for dramatic improvement, and I trust that Charlie Dickey eventually will get them there.
Where does this leave us heading into 2010? Well, many things have to shake out in recruiting and player development before I start projecting too far forward, but I do want to say something about the coaching staff, since there's a chance we could see a few changes in spots. (Indeed, Mike Kent already has departed as strength coach, so it's clear Snyder is willing to let some people leave if he doesn't perceive that they performed up to his standards.)
I'd really hate to see any of the defensive coaches leave, as that unit's massive improvement speaks for itself. But I can't say the same for the offensive staff. There were times that I found the offensive play-calling this season downright mind-boggling, and if Del Miller chose to gracefully ride into retirement and give way to someone like Chuck Long or Jonathan Beasley, I don't think I would shed a tear.
Also, I saw very little, if any, improvement from the wide receivers this year. Michael Smith better continue to butter his bread with recruiting, because I really don't think he cuts the mustard as a position coach. I felt that way when he was rehired, and I really didn't see anything to change my mind all year.
Tight ends were an enigma because we never threw to them, and I don't think you can give much credit for Thomas' performance to any single coach because DT simply is a natural. Basically, Dickey is the only offensive coach who could make me cry by departing. Everyone else is fair game if Snyder wants them to be.
BracketCat's Way-Too-Early Projected Starters for Next Year
*if we start with a fullback and two wide receivers
**if we start with three wide receivers and no fullback
Elsewhere in the Big 12...
Obviously, Colt McCoy put himself right in the thick of the Heisman race with last night's inspired performance, and Texas survived Texas A&M's upset bid, 49-39.
For those keeping score, Texas is in overdrive of late, having scored 100 points in its last two games.
More of the same might be on tap throughout the week. Although Nebraska's defense is stout, the Colorado-Nebraska has a history of being a pretty high-scoring affair. Not to mention the recent news of Hawk's reincarnation, which I suppose might reinvigorate his team somewhat.
Oklahoma's defense is in disarray, with Oklahoma State's balanced offense coming into town — but Oklahoma's offense has played extremely well at home this season.
And absolutely no one will be surprised if the Border War turns into a defenseless shootout and Texas Tech puts up 50 on Baylor in Jerryworld.
So, this week could end up looking like a throwback to last season's shenanigans before it's all said and done.
Nebraska at Colorado (ABC)
Cornhuskers 31, Buffaloes 20
#11 Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (FSN)
Sooners 19, Cowboys 18
Missouri vs. Kansas (in Kansas City) (ABC)
Tigers 29, Jayhawks 24
Texas Tech vs. Baylor (in Arlington) (FSN)
Red Raiders 33, Bears 21