The roller coaster that is the Kansas State Wildcat’s season continued again on Saturday in Columbia, Missouri. The 24th ranked Wildcats came in off of a 39-14 performance against the Texas Longhorns in which it seemed nothing could go wrong. Missouri, on the other hand, came in off of a loss to 24-17 loss at the hands of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Expectations were mixed between Wildcat fans going into this game, the first of three road games to finish out the season.
Contrary to popular belief after the last game, Collin Klein again gave way to Carson Coffman as the starting quarterback against the Tigers this week. Many believed that Klein would get the start after the showing that he gave against the Longhorns (127 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns) last week.
The Tigers started the game with the ball, and after driving inside of the Kansas State 40, the defense solidified and forced a turnover on downs after stopping a completed pass short of a first down. Sadly, the Cats were not able to build on the momentum with Coffman leading a quick 3-and-out on the first drive.
Missouri broke the scoreless tie on the next drive on a 25-yard touchdown pass from QB Blaine Gabbert to T.J. Moe. The drive started at the Tigers own 37 yard line, and engineered a very good drive to put up the first quarters only score, and the lead.
More after the jump.
The Wildcats tied the game on the second play of the second quarter on a two yard plunge from Daniel Thomas. The joy was short lived however as not even three minutes later, Gabbert dropped back to pass, and ended up tucking the ball and running for a 32-yard touchdown scamper, and a 14-7 lead.
However, the second quarter offensive explosion continued on the Wildcats next possession. Thomas had a 36 yard run to set up his second touchdown from three yards out two plays later. But once again, the Tigers struck quickly with another touchdown drive of less than three minutes that was capped by a nine yard run by Jerrel Jackson giving Missouri a 21-14 lead.
After Klein burned their last timeout with 1:38 left in the first half, Coffman made his way back onto the field at quarterback and lead a great two minute drill. He completed a pass to Adrian Hilburn to the one yard line, and there is where the implosion of the game started for the Wildcats. After a review of the play to see if Hilburn was in when he caught the ball, Coffman fumbled the snap, and the Tigers jumped on the opportunity and recovered the ball, and sent the Wildcats into halftime down 21-14.
Kansas State received the ball to start the second half, looking to put the end of the first behind them. Klein came back out, and rushed 18 yards for a first down on the first play of the drive. Sadly, the production stopped there. Three plays later, the Cats were forced again to punt.
On the ensuing drive, the Tigers looked to be in good shape following a 15-yard personal foul by Terrance Sweeney put the ball on the Kansas State 35-yard line. The following play held about the only mistake the Tigers made all day. Gabbert dropped back and through into tough coverage, and the ball was tipped by Ty Zimmerman and intercepted by Tre Walker who took it back out to the 33 yard line.
Once again, the Wildcats were not able to capitalize on the Missouri miscue. The teams traded punts again and, after a failed pitch pass from Thomas to Aubrey Quarles, Coffman came back into the game to attempt to convert a 3rd and 8. At this point, the wheels that were loose on the Wildcat bus proceeded to completely fall off. Coffman was blindsided by Aldon Smith, and fumbled. A fumble which was picked up by Missouri’s Jacquies Smith and returned 53 yards for a touchdown and 28-14 lead.
The troubles continued for Kansas State on the next drive as they tried a fumblerooski type play to a 5’ 7" John Hubert who was hiding behind the standing offensive line. Missouri sniffed out the trick play and forced Hubert to fumble the ball, this time it was Carl Gettis jumping on it for the Tigers. Luckily, the defense held them to a field goal that extended the lead to 31-14 with just under three minutes to go in the third quarter. This gave the Wildcats a very slim chance to still win the game.
The fourth quarter opened with the Tigers mid drive at the Wildcat fifteen yard line. Moe rushed to the right side, and was stripped by the Kansas State secondary, only to have Dan Hoch, an offensive lineman for the Tigers, jump on it at the four. One play later, Gabbert was hooking up with Moe for the second time on a 4-yard pass and a 38-14 lead.
With the game seemingly all but over, Klein lead the Wildcats on a drive and completed his first career touchdown pass. A 35-yard pass to Hilburn. Thomas added the two point conversion to bring the score to 38-22. Ty Zimmerman proceeded to recover the onside kick, but for the second time this season, the Wildcats were offside and the recovery was nullified.
After the second attempt at the onside kick failed, Kansas State forced Missouri to punt with 4:28 left in the game. Coffman lead the offense down the field, and hooked up with Quarles who broke a couple tackles and dove into the end zone for the 26-yard score. Tight End Andre McDonald dropped a ball right in his hands on a perfectly executed two-point conversion that had the entire Missouri defense moving right leaving him wide open.
With the drop went the Wildcats hopes of coming back in this one. The final was 38-28 in favor of the Tigers.
Now comes the time in the article where I pick out my positives and negatives from the game, and I must be honest, it’s tough this week to find some positives.
1. Offensive Production—The Wildcats managed to put up 417 yards of offense in the game. Granted about a quarter of them or more came with the game already decided. Klein rushed for 141 yards on the day on 18 carries, and also added 65 yards on 4 of 6 passing and his first career touchdown toss. Coffman added 170 yards on 11 of 19 passing with a touchdown and an interception. Thomas was held in check yard wise gaining only 66 on 12 carries (36 of which came on one rush), but did add 2 touchdowns and 28 yards on 2 receptions. Quarles had 133 yards on 9 receptions with a touchdown, and Hilburn added 69 yards on 3 receptions and his own touchdown grab.
2. Never give up spirit—I know I’ve used this before, but down by 24 many teams may have thrown in the towel and called it a day. The Cats fought back in this one, albeit just to make it look respectable. Part of me only put this in here because it would look terrible to have only one positive, but this is really about all I can find.
So now I guess it’s time for the negatives.
1. Coaching— Yes I have to say coaching here. I do not like to go against the legend, but Bill Snyder CANNOT have Coffman in on the 1 yard line with 22 seconds left in the first half. Put Klein in there, run a QB sneak, we tie the game at half, and I think we come out on top in the end. Instead, we leave 7 points on the table, and it was the beginning of the end for us. We also got thoroughly outcoached after the break. Hand it to the Tigers for coming out and making changes they needed to to keep Klein from running wild in the second half like he had in the first.
2. Defense—While this was a strong point last week against the Longhorns forcing 5 turnovers, they could not seem to do much to stop the Tigers this week. While Ty Zimmerman once again had a good game, the rest of the defense just looked slow all day. Hartman was burned deep again, the D-line got no pressure on Gabbert all day, and were just manhandled for the most part. Gabbert had his way nearly all day whether it be running or throwing the ball, and I think his biggest setback was himself on overthrows.
3. Turnovers—A department that the Wildcats are usually pretty good in, they were -3 on the day and that was definitely the difference in the game when you got down to it. Turnovers on 4 of 5 possessions will kill any team, especially on the road against an explosive offense like the Tigers.
Overall, coming into this game, I thought it would be a tough one. After watching most of the first half, I thought we had a pretty good chance at winning, and maybe even controlled our own destiny in the game. I think that’s why this one is tough, because we gave away 17 points (fumble on the 1, fumble returned for a touchdown, and fumble leading to their field goal). If we would have scored at the half, it would have been our game to lose, and even after we didn’t I would argue it was still ours to lose, but once we resorted to trying trick plays, I knew Missouri had us.
The Wildcats will look to bounce back next week in Boulder, Colorado to take on the Colorado Buffalos. I think that is a very winnable game for the Cats coming off of a bad loss like this. I think the kids will be fired up to prove something to themselves and others. My concern is once again, playing on the road. Boulder has always been a tough place to play, and even though Colorado has not been the best of teams and has plenty of their own turmoil, they are historically a good team at home. Here’s to Snyder making the changes he needs to this week in practice and taking a game plan in that will secure a W in the final game of the Big XII season for Kansas State.
The Buffs will be coming off of a win over Iowa State in Interim Head Coach Brian Cabral’s first game at the helm. Colorado (4-6 on the year) will look to become bowl eligible by winning their last two games against the Wildcats, and the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Expect them to come out fired up playing at home on senior day. In the end, I expect Snyder to get the boys ready and the Wildcats walk out of Boulder with a win.