Postgame Reaction takes the place of the Slate this morning, once again thanks to my crazy work schedule right now.
Every description possible has been thrown out for this game since it ended: ugly, far from perfect, setting the game back "X" years. From a K-State fan's perspective, though, it was exactly what we wanted. Wins are wins this year, and while we can review the things we hope improve down the line, we need to just accept that this team has its flaws, but generally makes up for a lot of them with discipline and effort.
Somewhat along those lines, we need to let go of this notion that Snyder is somehow "holding something back" or "not opening up the whole playbook." I'm pretty sure that at this point, we've seen 99 percent of what we're going to see this year. It's pretty obvious that Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur are not ready to play at quarterback. It's pretty obvious that we're not going to see Chris Harper line up in the wildcat formation with Daniel Thomas at his side. There might be a wrinkle or two here and there that we haven't seen yet, but by and large this offense has been opened up.
Hit the jump for more...
What I liked...
...Daniel Thomas doin' what he do. A career-high 34 carries for 181 yards and two touchdowns for the best running back in the Big 12.
...good field position most of the day, thanks to William Powell's returns. K-State averaged 29 yards per kickoff return, consistently putting us outside our own 30 yard line to start the drive.
...more good coverage by Terrence Sweeney. At this point in the season, it's pretty clear that Sweeney is our best defender. He went down late in the game and I did not notice if he came back in, nor did I see the injury or a replay. It looked like he was able to walk off the field without much assistance, so let's hope that he's OK. With Emmanuel Lamur likely out for a while, we need every able body in the defensive backfield that we can find.
...another big catch by Brodrick Smith. With Thomas pounding away on the ground, there wasn't much need to go to the air, but Smith made it count when he got the chance. His long catch in the fourth quarter on a horribly underthrown ball by Carson Coffman turned the momentum of the game around and set up K-State's go-ahead score.
What I didn't like...
...another brutally conservative defensive game plan. If possible, it was even more conservative than last week against Missouri State. I don't think I saw five blitzes all game long, and oftentimes we would rush only three. Granted, against a run-heavy team like Iowa State, you're not necessarily trying to get pressure on the quarterback, but with the exception of Brandon Harold's sack and forced fumble in the fourth quarter, we got zero push with the front four. Think about this: Iowa State will be the worst offense we'll face the rest of the season. They have a quarterback who is mediocre-at-best throwing the ball, and no real big-play threats at wide receiver. Despite that, we didn't even make an effort to get pressure on him. In the end, it worked, but an entire season of bend-but-don't-break is going to be more than I can handle.
...leaving points on the field. I don't know who called the fake field goal in the second quarter, whether it was Del Miller, Dana Dimel, or Snyder, but I didn't like that call at all. It was fourth and seven, so it wasn't going to be an easy pickup, especially on an option play. On top of that, we ran the exact same play last week, and I guarantee Iowa State was told all week and prior to that play to be ready for a fake. They were ready, and a possible 36-yard field goal was exchanged for a turnover on downs. Three there would have put K-State ahead 13-7, and would have been big later in the game as we tried to put ISU away. I don't think we can afford to pass up points with this team.
...the pick-six. Not much to say here. It looked like the linebacker dropped into coverage late and Coffman didn't see him. A big mistake that could have led to a loss, but was overcome in the end.
...the turnout at Arrowhead. Less than 40,000 in attendance. I'm loathe to call out other fans, especially in tough economic times, but how is it possible that we put 50,000 in the stands in Manhattan the first two games and can't get more than 30,000 of our own fans to a game in Kansas City?
What it means and where we're going...
As we've been saying after all three games, it means we're on track for the season's goals. We got a conference win that we needed to get, and we're one game closer to bowl eligibility.
Next week presents an interesting challenge with Central Florida coming to Manhattan. UCF is 2-1 on the season, with wins over South Dakota and Buffalo and a loss to North Carolina State. In other words, they're a good enough team to give us a challenge, especially if we're not ready to play, but not so good that we can't beat them fairly easily with a good effort. Sandwiched between the conference opener and the big showdown with Nebraska, getting the players up for this one will be the main challenge.
UCLA got a big win, dropping the Houston Cougars and injuring both their starting QB (Case Keenum) and their backup (Cotton Turner) in the process. The Bruins are now 1-2 on the year, but face the Texas Longhorns in Austin next Saturday.
Missouri State had a bye.
Big 12 Roundup
Again, I didn't see much of the other games this week, so I'll only comment on what I saw.
Southern Miss 31, KU 16 (Friday)
The beaks got ambushed in Hattiesburg, Miss. USM jumped ahead early and never looked back, and frankly the score could have been worse than it was. Three games in, and we still don't have a clue what KU has.
Colorado 31, Hawaii 13
Didn't see any of it. From the box score, Hawaii led 10-0 at halftime before CU got it in gear. Probably not a ringing endorsement for CU against a Hawaii team whose only win so far was a three-point victory over Army.
Oklahoma 27, Air Force 24
Once again, OU looks poor against a middle-of-the-road opponent. Maybe they really should just schedule big games in the non-conference, because it looks like their players don't care against anybody else.
Nebraska 56, Washington 21
Nebraska ran around, over and through Washington for a big win. While I'm not prepared to say that this is going to be any more impressive of a win at the end of the year than our win over UCLA, the Cornhuskers have something in Taylor Martinez. His zone-read fakes fool the cameramen, and he's as fast as most wide receivers. I didn't see enough of the game to know how much of Jake Locker's ridiculously poor performance was him being overhyped and how much was the Nebraska defense, but make no mistake, Nebraska is good.
TCU 45, Baylor 10
Back to reality, Bears. They're still a tough out with Robert Griffin at quarterback, but at best I still think they barely sneak to bowl eligibility.
Missouri 27, San Diego State 24
This was one of those "WTF" games for Mizzou. I caught bits and pieces on the radio, but couldn't tell what the Tigers' problem was. A win is a win, I guess, but I'm starting to wonder about this Missouri team.
Oklahoma State 65, Tulsa 28
Didn't see a second of it, and have no idea what to make of it. Tulsa clearly doesn't have much of a defense, already having given up 51 points in a loss to East Carolina this year. Okie State is another Big 12 team that is somewhat of an enigma after three games.
Texas A&M 27, Florida International 20
FIU actually led, 20-6, in the second half before A&M got things figured out. The only real question from this one is how many of TAMU's players will be called cowards for their performance.
Texas 24, Texas Tech 14
Quick, name the last time Texas Tech was held below 150 yards in total offense? Yes, that's right, total offense. The Longhorns look ridiculous on defense right now. Their offense is still a work in progress, but if you can hold Tech to 144 total yards, you're going to have a shot against anyone. From the parts of this game I caught, it looked like Tech's line could not stop the UT pass rush.
One other thing I noticed in limited viewing...the officials were atrocious. Texas running back Tre Newton was knocked out of the game on what appeared to be a head-to-head hit as he was going down by a Tech linebacker, but no flag was thrown. The announcers noted that UT safety Blake Gideon got hit with a personal foul for a similar hit earlier in the game. Later, Texas receiver James Kirkendoll blatantly got in the face of a Tech defensive back after a catch, but no flag was thrown. On that very drive, one of Tech's linebackers (I'm very poor at getting names down, sorry), was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for doing the exact same thing after a tackle. We're in for another fun season with Big 12 officiating.