We're going to try not to overanalyze this one, and positive noted below should come with the huge caveat that we were playing Tennessee Tech. This is an FCS program that hasn't had a winning record since 2004. In other words, they're really bad, and the way we played yesterday really should have been the minimum achievement.
On the bright side, this was a perfect game for a team coming off a two-game losing streak and heading into conference play. We'll have to wait until next week to see how things translate, but it had to help Carson Coffman's confidence complete some passes and move the ball effectively, for the most part.
What I liked...
...seeing Brandon Banks find his groove. There's not much you can add to the stat line when I guy has two kickoff returns for two touchdowns and a 92-yard average. He also had three receptions for 90 yards, including a 64-yard touchdown catch.
...a little rumble from the D-Train. After last week's frustrating performance against UCLA, Daniel Thomas was back in form this week, rolling for 139 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Overall, the rushing game was very solid, as Keithen Valentine had 73 yards on only 10 carries. As a team, the Cats averaged almost five yards per carry, picking up 296 net yards on 60 (!) carries. Once again, repeat the refrain with me -- "it was against Tennessee Tech" -- but hey, ya gotta start somewhere.
...the passing game, when used, being downright efficient. For the day, our passers were 10-11 for 152 yards and two touchdowns. It's been a long time since we've seen 60 rushing attempts against only 11 passing attempts, but in a game like this, there was no reason to air it out. Further, we probably maintained our national lead in time of possession, controlling the ball for more than 36 minutes.
...after a rough first drive, a stifling defense. The great frustration of having to rely on Wyatt and Stan during games is that, no matter how well they describe what happened, you can't see exactly what happened. It sounded like we had a complete coverage fail on TTU's opening drive, resulting in a wide-open tight end for a touchdown. A lot of credit to Vic Koenning and the defense, though, because those 73 yards on that opening drive were almost 3/4s of TTU's total yards on the day. And anytime you hold any opponent to -19 yards rushing on 25 rushing attempts, something went right.
What I didn't like...
...very little explosiveness offensively. Other than Banks' 64-yard touchdown reception, our yards largely came in smallish chunks on sustained drives. Ordinarily, I'd say there's nothing wrong with sustained drives, but when you're playing an opponent that's completely outmanned, you'd like to see some big plays. We got them on special teams, but it's clear that our offense is going to struggle against better opponents. The more plays you run have to run to score, the more likely a mistake is, and our offense has been mistake prone against the teams we've played this year that weren't completely outgunned.
...penalties galore. It was good that things improved in the second half, after being penalized nine times for 87 yards in the first half. But 10 penalties for 96 yards is still too much.
OK, that's enough of that. Hit the jump for what it means, where we're going, a look at how our opponents fared, and the Big 12 Roundup.
What it means and where we're going...
It means we can beat up on completely overmatched opponents. That's certainly better than the alternative, but still, 478 yards and 49 points is not really the beatdown you'd expect of a team this bad. Further, two of our touchdowns came on kickoff returns. So really, our offense only scored 35 points. Granted, we called off the dogs in the third quarter, but don't get too overblown from this game. Tennessee Tech is, by far, the worst team we will face this season.
Next week, K-State travels to Kansas City, Mo., for the Farmageddon at Arrowhead matchup with Iowa State. Tickets are still available, and in fact, I'll be ordering mine as soon as I'm done writing this post. If you're going, let me know, either via email or in the comments. We won't be setting up an official BOTC tailgate, but I plan on tailgating at Arrowhead with a friend or two, so feel free to stop by and introduce yourself.
What our opponents are doing...
UCLA had the week off, and Louisiana played Nebraska this week, so we'll cover that one below. Massachusetts rolled Stony Brook, 44-17, improving to 3-1 on the season. In the win, UMass compiled 500 yards of total offense against a Stony Brook team that was 5-6 last year in the Big South (they're an FCS opponent).
Big 12 Roundup
Missouri 31, Nevada 21: While I didn't see all of this one, I'm comfortable saying that it wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Mizzou led 31-13 before a junk-time touchdown late pulled Nevada to within eight with only 2:32 remaining. Blaine Gabbert was outstanding, completing 25-40 for 414 yards and three TDs against no INTs. Mizzou fans are probably a little concerned at the continuing inability to run ineffectively, as the Tigers gained only 78 yards rushing on the day. Giving up 218 rushing yards to 0-3 Nevada is probably a little concerning, too, especially with Nebraska and Roy Helu on the horizon.
For more: Rock M Nation
Up next: Nebraska (Columbia, Mo.), Thurs. 10/8
KU 35, Southern Mississippi 28: A 21-14 halftime lead gave way to a nightmare third quarter that saw USM tie the beaks up at 28-28 heading into the final stanza. That said, a lot of credit goes to the KU defense for figuring things out and stifling USM when it counted in the last 15 minutes. Todd Reesing was back on track for the beaks, throwing for 331 total yards and three touchdowns, with one INT. KU's running game looked worse in the final stats than it really was, as five sacks of Reesing resulted in a lot of yards lost. USM's rushing game was pretty weak, too, but the Golden Eagles and quarterback Austin Davis torched KU for 331 passing yards on the day.
For more: Rock Chalk Talk
Up next: Iowa State (Lawrence, Kan.), Sat. 10/10
Texas 64, UTEP 7: When a pick-six is your only score on the day, you know you're pretty bad. After Melvin Stephenson picked off Colt McCoy and took it to the house, the Miners may as well have headed back to El Paso, because nothing good happened the rest of the day. On the day, UTEP gained 53 total yards (not a misprint), while yielding 639 to the Longhorns. It wasn't even this close for UTEP, as the final margin of the game was set five seconds into the fourth quarter. Other than the early pick, McCoy played more like he did last year, going 28-35 for 286 yards and three TDs. The sometimes-maligned Texas rushing game steamrolled through the Miners for 304 yards on 42 carries.
For more: Burnt Orange Nation
Up next: Colorado (Austin, Texas), Sat. 10/10
Iowa State 31, Army 10: It's official, Paul Rhoads is a better coach than Gene Chizik. The Cyclones have now topped their win total for all of last year, and could double it with a win at Farmageddon next week. No unit was particularly spectacular for ISU, but whatever they did, it was effective. Austen Arnaud was only 11-20, but the Clones picked up 175 yards and two TDs through the air. On the ground, Alexander Robinson diced up Army for 127 yards on only 21 carries, although more than half of that came on one 68-yard run. Defensively, ISU withstood a balanced Army attack that controlled the clock but didn't amass much yardage (316 total) or many points (10).
For more: Clone Chronicles
Up next: K-State (Kansas City, Mo. | Arrowhead Stadium), Sat. 10/3
Nebraska 55, Louisiana 0: Nebraska celebrated 300-straight fall Saturdays of nothing better to do than watch the Huskers in style. Zac Lee bounced back from his nightmare game in Blacksburg last week by going 15-18 for 238 yards and a TD with no INTs in limited action. On the day, the Huskers threw for 300 yards and rushed for 133, a shockingly low total (433) for how many points they scored. Talk about being efficient. On the complete opposite side of the efficiency coin, UL managed only 222 yards. Brutal.
For more: Corn Nation
Up next: at Missouri (Columbia, Mo.), Thurs. 10/8
Oklahoma State 56, Grambling 6: Nothing like wacking a SWAC team to get your mojo back. This was more like the Cowboy team we expected to see all year long, racking up 587 yards, including 321 on the ground. Jeremy Smith may not be 40, or a household name anywhere other than with his immediate family, but he was a man in this one, rushing for 160 yards on only 15 carries. One question: where was Dez Bryant? He doesn't show up anywhere in the box score, and I hadn't heard that he was hurt.
Up next: at Texas A&M (College Station, Texas), Sat. 10/10
Baylor 68, Northwestern State 13: The real Robert Griffin returned as far as throwing the ball (13-19 for 226 yards and three TDs), but the all-world sprinter still is doing nothing rushing the ball (four carries for 16 yards). Didn't matter in this one, though, as the Bears jumped on the Demons early, leading 41-10 at halftime. Baylor more than doubled NSU's offensive output, gaining 567 yards to Northwestern State's 248. Shocking stat of the day: Baylor did all that on only 58 plays while controlling the ball for only 21 minutes of the game.
Up next: Kent State (Waco, Texas), Sat. 10/3
Texas A&M 56, UAB 19: The Aggies continued their offensive barrage against outmanned UAB (1-3 on the season, with losses to Southern Methodist and Troy). In three games against completely overmatched competition, A&M has rolled up yards and points by the bundle, clearly indicating they are a better team than last year, when they couldn't even beat Arkansas State. Just how much better is a judgment that will have to wait until they play someone decent. That could be next week, when they take on Arkansas in Dallas, but the Razorbacks look pretty bad, too, getting into a shootout with Georgia last week (they lost) and getting blown out by Alabama this week.
For more: I Am the 12th Man
Up next: Arkansas (Dallas, Texas | Cowboys Stadium), Sat. 10/3
Houston 29, Texas Tech 28: This was one of the more entertaining games I've seen in a long time. In a battle of Texas gunslingers, Case Keenum outdueled Taylor Potts, leading the Coogs to their second victory over a Big 12 opponent this season. Some will probably question how much defensive improvement Tech has really made after UH put up 579 total yards, but the mere fact that Houston gained that many yards and scored only 29 points says something for Tech. Further, it's not like anybody has stopped the Cougars effectively this season, as they are second in total offense and sixth in scoring offense. Texas Tech finally found a running game, picking up 163 yards rushing after having only 92 yards on the season coming into this game. I'll argue, however, that Mike Leach's stubborn refusal to stick with a running game against a clearly undersized Houston defense probably contributed to Tech's loss as much as anything.
For more: Double T Nation
Up next: New Mexico (Lubbock, Texas), Sat. 10/3