K-State defeated Missouri State yesterday in a game that was never in doubt after about midway through the second quarter. While some people don't think you can really learn much about a team from these games, I do know that there was a noticeable difference in the way K-State handled teams like this in the first two years I was on campus (2002-03) and the next five years. When the team is good enough to break off huge plays and jump out to a three or four touchdown lead by the end of the first quarter, you know they are so utterly dominant that the other team doesn't belong on the field.
That wasn't quite what we saw yesterday, but K-State looked as solid against a lower-division team as it has in years, with the exception of last year's debacle against Tennessee Tech (who nobody cares about...still). Daniel Thomas broke a big run for a touchdown in the first quarter and a couple second-quarter touchdowns made it 20-0 and pretty obvious that Missouri State didn't have the horses to keep up. Still, it wasn't a thoroughly dominating effort, by a longshot, so there's plenty to talk about and work on with conference play opening next weekend.
What I liked...
...Daniel Thomas doin' what he do. Ho-hum, 21 carries for 137 yards and two touchdowns. As you can tell by the relatively small number of carries he got, we didn't really lean on Thomas too much last night. He got his early, and then we went on to other things. Speaking of which...
...opening up the offense a little bit. That sounds odd given that we're playing Missouri State, and you'd expect that we'd stay as vanilla as possible, but I thought the coaches did a really smart thing in this game. It was obvious that we could use our massive offensive line and all-conference running back to run through Missouri State at will. Once the coaching staff got comfortable with that fact, and the fact that our defense was stuffing Missouri State for the most part and winning the field position battle, we let Carson Coffman take to the air. At some point, you have to give Coffman a shot in real game action to chuck it around a little bit, just to see what he's got. What we saw wasn't always great, in fact sometimes it was downright awful, but the point is we figured out what we've got. Much better to do that in a game with Missouri State that's in hand than against, say, Iowa State in a crucial conference matchup.
...Coffman's stat line. I'll take 18-26 for 280 yards and two touchdowns with only one sack and no INTs anyday. That's not to say there aren't concerns here (see below), but Coffman was pretty efficient throwing the ball last night.
...the play of Terrence Sweeney. He flew under my radar last week, but not last night. Sweeney broke up two passes early in the game, made a couple tackles, and forced a fumble. After the two breakups early, I don't remember Missouri State throwing his way much. And it was a good thing he had a good game, because I hate omitting the defense entirely from "What I liked..." and there weren't a lot of bright spots on that side.
...Brodrick Smith playing the role of beast. Mr. Smith laughs at your pass interference, Missouri State. He laughs at it.
...a good crowd showing. Announced attendance was 48,672. The lower level was very full, and all but the very corners of the east-side upper deck were full, too. Good crowd showing for an FCS opponent.
What I didn't like...
...atrocious defense. I really thought I was going to get to put the defense in the other category after the first quarter ended, but what we saw after that was enough to keep us up nights. In the second quarter, Tysyn Hartman whiffed on deep coverage and contributed to a 66-yard touchdown pass for Missouri State's first score. In the second half, the defense gave up several sustained scoring drives, including a 99-yarder in the fourth quarter. Worse yet, a lot of those yards and points were given up by our starters, who largely played through the end of the third quarter, and many of them well into the fourth.
Because I'm not the best Xs and Os guy, I'm not sure what our defense did in the second half that contributed to the metldown. Maybe it was as simple as "well, we're up big, just avoid the big play and there's no way they can win." Which is fine, I guess, for a game like this. But even in the first half, when we ostensibly would have wanted to put some pressure on, we really didn't. We rushed four almost the entire night, and could not generate any pressure at all with a four-man rush. And it seems to be a pattern with Chris Cosh that we would prefer to rush four, drop eight, try to avoid giving up the big play, and make our stand in the red zone if the opponent puts a drive together. I realize that if you want to bring pressure you're putting a heavy burden on your corners and safeties because they'll be in one-on-one coverage deep, but at some point you have to take some chances to make some disruptive plays and force bad decisions and turnovers.
The bottom line is we gave up 447 total yards to an FCS school. Granted that 281 of those came in the second half with the game well in hand, but I'd still like to see a more dominant showing out of these guys.
...Coffman's occasional penchant for making poor throws and bad decisions. At least twice in the first half, Coffman woefully underthrew a receiver or forced a pass where it really shouldn't have gone, only to get bailed out by pass interference. One pass interference call negated a Missouri State interception, while Brodrick Smith looked like a horse shooing away a fly on the other as he shrugged off an undersized defensive back and made the catch for a 42-yard touchdown reception.
When Coffman gets good initial protection and his first option is open, he delivers a nice ball that is almost always accurate. And, credit where credit is due, he did a good job of avoiding the rush a few times last night and buying a little extra time to find someone open or take off with the ball. But he still has a maddening tendency to force downfield throws without stepping into them, and he just flat out missed a couple deep throws to open receivers last night. At this point, however, I'm making a resolution about my discussions of Coffman. We know what we have in him. He's not Michael Bishop or Ell Roberson or Jonathan Beasley or even Chad May or Bryan Kavanaugh. And whether we like it or not, it appears from what little we've seen of Collin Klein that he is the best option we have, if not the best option by far.
What it means and where we're going...
Through two games, we're 2-0. No complaint about that. It's not all beer and Skittles, but it's been effective.
Now the notch gets cranked up a bit. I realize how odd it is to say that when Iowa State is the next team on the schedule, but given what we saw out of UCLA yesterday, I believe that is the case. The Cyclones are well coached, disciplined on defense, and have a running game that worries me with our linebacking situation. It's going to take a solid effort in all facets to get a win at Farmageddon II next week, but if the Cats can get that one, we're really getting set up to have a nice season.
Remember how we thought that win over UCLA was a good win over a solid BCS-AQ conference opponent? Yeah, not so much. The Bruins were shut out by Stanford last night, 35-0.
Big 12 Roundup
I managed to stay awake through most of FSN's "Big 12 Live" show last night, so I actually kind of know what I'm talking about this week!
KU 28, Georgia Tech 25
Easily the biggest surprise of the weekend. I watched this game from start to finish before leaving for Manhattan. The Ramblin' Wreck stuffed KU on the beaks' first drive, then rolled in for an easy touchdown and a 7-0 lead that made it look like the rout we expected was on. I won't say it was all KU from there, but Jordan Webb led KU down the field with a fairly impressive passing game and freshman running back James Sims picked up 102 yards rushing to key the upset. Afterward, the KU fans were confused and thought they had won the national championship by defeating the No. 15 team in the country, and many charged onto the field to celebrate.
I'd like to tell you what this means, but I have no idea. Maybe KU just had an utter brain fart last weekend. Maybe Tech relaxed after it went ahead early and thought it could coast to the win.
Nebraska 38, Idaho 17
The Cornhuskers forced six turnovers, including five interceptions (two returned for scores). After taking a 31-3 halftime lead, Nebraska was apparently surprised to hear it had not won by Mercy Rule, and only begrudgingly played the second half. Freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez was impressive again, rushing for 157 yards on only 14 carries. Still, we just don't know what kind of quantity we have in Nebraska. It looks like a good defense with an offense that is reliant on a very good quarterback running game. If Martinez can keep putting up big rushing numbers against better defenses, then Nebraska will be a force. But if he can't, then they look like a pretty pedestrian offense considering the offense only scored 24 points against the Vandals.
Cal 52, Colorado 7
So much for the Buffaloes' supposed momentum after last week's win over Colorado State. The Bears put it on CU early and often. Good thing the Pac-10 is such a good fit for Colorado. With beatdowns like this, there shouldn't be much of a transition from what they've become accustomed to in the Big 12.
Oklahoma 47, Florida State 17
So much for the thought that OU might be in trouble after last week's close shave with Utah State. The Sooners dominated the Seminoles from the get-go. Curiously absent from the OU onslaught was the ground game, with only 93 total yards rushing for the Sooners. Landry Jones made up for that, going 30-40 for 380 yards and four TDs. Yeah, that'll work.
Iowa 35, Iowa State 7
Not a good outing for our next opponent against their in-state rival. This one was never really in doubt, as the Hawkeyes jumped to an early lead and never looked back, notching their second straight blowout win in the Cy-Hawk game. Austen Arnaud threw three interceptions and Iowa State managed only 275 yards total offense. I hope our coaches view this game film extensively this week.
Missouri 50, McNeese State 6
Didn't see any of this one, including highlights. Looks like the Tigers ran over an overmatched opponent /statesobvious
Oklahoma State 41, Troy 38
Between this shootout with Troy and Washington State
embarrassing loss to needed a massive fourth-quarter comeback to hold off Montana State, the shine may have already worn off last week's shellacking the Cowboys put on Wazzou. The Cowboys outyarded Troy by more than 150 and yet needed a second-half comeback to overcome Troy's 27-20 halftime lead. Kendall Hunter was effective for the Pokes in rolling up 157 yards on 28 carries, but junior quarterback Brandon Weeden was the story, going 29-39 for 348 yards.
Baylor 34, Buffalo 6
Another game where I didn't even catch highlights. Given Robert Griffin's four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing, you could probably just insert any random Griffin highlight reel and have an idea what occurred.
Texas A&M 48, Louisiana Tech 16
The Aggies led only 21-10 at halftime, but pulled away for an easy victory over Tech. The few highlights I saw of this one disclosed a pretty vanilla game, including one gawd-awful, dying duck of a Hail Mary by Jerrod Johnson that EZ Nwachuku outjumped everyone for in the middle of the field for a touchdown at the end of the first half. The Ags take on another rummy next week in Florida International before an interesting three-game stretch that includes Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri.
Texas 34, Wyoming 7
Another week, another relatively easy but overall unimpressive win by UT. The Longhorns were only able to manage two field goals by the middle of the second quarter, and Wyoming actually took the lead with 5:31 to play in the half. Alas, Texas had the cattle horses to pull away and won with relative ease but...yeah, there's something about the Longhorns that just doesn't seem right.
Texas Tech 52, New Mexico 17
In the battle of schools somewhere out in the desert, Tech proved once again that its passing game isn't going quietly into the night. The Red Raiders chucked it 41 times for 310 yards. Pedestrian numbers by their old standards, but still plenty effective. A big game looms at Tech "welcomes" Texas to Lubbock next week for its conference opener.