Time for a reassessment.
With all applicable disclaimers about small sample sizes, that was not what we expected. K-State defeated Eastern Kentucky, 10-7, on the strength of a 33-yard touchdown pass from Collin Klein to Chris Harper with a mere 1:39 remaining. The yardage gained on that play represented a solid 10 percent of K-State's total offensive output for the game.
For a fanbase that got so much mileage out of "North Dakota State" last year -- and rightfully so -- this had to be an uncomfortable game. K-State never was able to have its way with the Colonels, and after a dreadful Bryce Brown fumble late in the third quarter, the Wildcats were in real danger of losing to an FCS team. Fortunately, EKU was not able to mount a scoring drive of longer than one yard, ensuring that K-State's offense would have an opportunity to steal the win, which it eventually did.
Hit the jump for positives, negatives, what it means, and the Big 12 Roundup.What I liked...
...a "dominating" defense. Yes, I know. It was Eastern Kentucky. I said in the game thread that this was not exactly a prolific offense last year, and it was missing its all-purpose quarterback, T.J. Pryor. If this offense had done anything against K-State's defense, full-blown panic would have set in. That said, the defense did what it needed to do. The Colonels never mounted a serious scoring threat, scoring only when a K-State fumble set them up in can't-miss territory. Eastern Kentucky netted only 10 rushing yards, completed only 35 percent of its passes, and gained only 129 total yards. As hoped, Arthur Brown led the team in tackles, with seven. If nothing else, this defense should improve statistically this year, if for no other reason than these are by far better numbers than K-State put up in any game last year.
...Collin Klein. Maybe this should go more in the camp of "What I could live with..." but I don't want to create new categories. Going back through the game thread, I saw multiple calls to bring in Justin Tuggle or to burn Daniel Sams' redshirt. There's no doubt that Klein wasn't excellent, but if you look at his numbers, he was more than serviceable. Klein threw 21 times, completing 13 (62 percent) for 128 yards and one touchdown. Nothing that's going to make us forget Carson Coffman anytime soon, but at least percentage-wise, that's serviceable for a K-State quarterback. As Bill Snyder himself said, we didn't exactly throw the whole playbook at them.
...the new turf and restrooms in the upper deck. Seriously, I can't say enough for these two improvements. The turf looks awesome, and the addition of restrooms to the upper deck is a huge deal for those who like to have a couple, uhh, sodas before the game.
What I didn't like...
...poor offensive line play. It all began with the offensive line on Saturday. While poor offensive line play wasn't the sole culprit in K-State's poor offensive showing -- creamy vanilla ice cream cone playcalling leaps to mind -- it was the primary suspect. John Hubert, Angelo Pease and Bryce Brown had very little room to maneuver when they got the ball, and Klein was under attack immediately on passing plays. As Curtis Kitchen noted, Brodrick Smith and Chris Harper were visibly frustrated during the game when Klein didn't see they were open. I can't put all the blame on Klein for those missed opportunities, because there were times when he didn't have time to progress through his reads to Smith or Harper.
Also, it's not like this was a top-flight FCS defensive unit (not that that would make it any better, but hey, it furthers my point). This unit lost four of its top five tacklers from a year ago. This is a unit whose line goes 6'1" 240#, 6'2" 281#, 6'2" 273#, and 6'3" 297#.* A K-State offensive line that averaged 302.6 pounds among the starters should have been able to push this crew all over the field.
*I realize this means I'm a dork, but I found it funny that two of EKU's starters on the defensive line had the surnames Knowles and Carter on the week when we hear Beyonce (Knowles) is apparently carrying Jay-Z's (Carter's) baby. Commence jokes about me being a huge dork.
...a disappearing act by Bryce Brown. Early on, Brown looked pretty good. But he tweaked an ankle and then committed a sin more blasphemous than asking Bill Snyder's daughter to marry you on the stadium bigscreen -- this actually happened, embarrassingly enough -- when he fumbled in K-State territory and was neither seen nor heard from again.
...a merely average night in the kicking game. Anthony Cantele missed a 36-yard attempt with a howling wind at his back.
What it means and where we're going...
I hate to be a downer, but if you did a power poll right now, you'd have to rank K-State and Iowa State in a tie for last. The good news is that the coaching staff has two weeks before the next game, and after a pitiful performance like that, they should have the players' full attention. If we don't see significant improvement by September 17 when Kent States comes to town, then full-blown panic mode will be reached.
Speaking of Kent State, the Golden Flashes opened the season with a 48-7 loss to No. 2 Alabama. Keep an eye on Kent State this week, as they will be host to Louisiana, which opened the season with a sacrificial drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma State.
Big 12 Roundup (Or, the part where I try to say something intelligent about games I probably didn't watch)
Baylor Bears 50, Texas Christian Horned Frogs 48
This game I actually did watch, and it did nothing to ease my mind about this upcoming season. My personal "RGIII Fear Meter" is now off the charts. Griffin torched the vaunted TCU defense for 359 yards passing and five touchdowns. Like K-State, the Bears take a week off this week before welcoming Stephen F. Austin for a beatdown in Waco in two weeks.
Missouri Tigers 17, Miami (Ohio) Redhawks 6
It appears the offseason prognostications about Missouri were proved correct in its first game. Losing first-round-draft-pick Blaine Gabbert and dealing with injuries on the offensive line led to questions about Mizzou's offense this season, and the Tigers failed to crack 300 yards against Miami. On the other hand, the Mizzou defense frustrated the Redhawks all day, allowing only 270 yards to a team that ended last season on a tear. James Franklin had a decent debut as Mizzou's starting quarterback, throwing for an efficient 128 yards and rushing for another 72. Mizzou has the marquee game of the Big 12 schedule next weekend when it travels to Tempe, Ariz., to face Arizona State.
Texas Tech Red Raiders 50, Texas State Bobcats 10
For a while, it appeared Texas Tech was going to mess around and be grouped with K-State and Iowa State as "teams who almost lost embarrassing games on opening weekend." That was before the Red Raiders ran off 41 points in the second half to send the Bobcats back to San Marcos with a humiliating loss. The ongoing battle for Tech's soul seems to be in favor of its passing game, as Seth Doege and Jacob Karam -- but mostly Doege -- combined for 348 yards passing and four touchdowns. I'll fully admit I don't know diddly about Texas State, but the Bobcats did manage 331 total yards on Tech. Four lost fumbles -- and Tech's offensive onslaught -- doomed the Bobcats. Texas Tech travels to Albuquerque to face New Mexico next weekend.
Iowa State Cyclones 20, Northern Iowa Panthers 19
What do you really need to know about this one? The Cyclones are pretty much who we thought they were. They'll be a scrappy, tough bunch who will cause problems to some teams they otherwise have no business being on the field with, but on the whole, they're not able to simply out-talent an FCS squad like UNI. Sound familiar? God, that's scary. Iowa State gets to play for the interim Cy-Hawk Trophy next week when the Iowa Hawkeyes travel to Ames.
KU 42, McNeese State Cowboys 24
The Jayhawks got off to a much better start this season than last. Like most of the Big 12 opponents this week, I have no idea what kind of season McNeese State is supposed to have, and I don't really have the inclination to look it up. In any event, KU amassed 447 total yards on McNeese State. James Sims had a solid day with 19 carries for 104 yards and, while Jordan Webb didn't pass very often, he completed 70 percent of his passes for 146 yards. On the slightly worrisome side, if you're a KU fan, the defense gave up 420 yards. Still, the Jayhawks' first performance of the year ranks them solidly at eighth in the conference, which is two spots higher than they were generally picked in the preseason. Up next for KU is a visit from Northern Illinois, which will be an interesting barometer before KU travels to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech.
Oklahoma State Cowboys 61, Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns 34
The school of wrestling and men's golf began its season as expected, with an easy win over the infamous UL. Brandon Weeden threw for 388 yards, Justin Blackmon caught for 144 yards, and Joseph Randle ran for 129 yards. In other words, ho-hum, the offense was impressive. Giving up 34 points and 320 yards to UL may be slight reason for concern, but make no mistake, the Pokes will outscore most teams they play. By a lot. That group of teams will include Arizona, who visits Stillwater next weekend.
It wasn't quite the laughably lopsided drubbing we're used to from OU early in the season, but the Sooners got the job done and then some against in-state patsy Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane did rip off 400 yards total offense, but 100 of that came in garbage time in the fourth quarter, after it appears OU called off the dogs. In the spirit of the OSU review, Landry Jones passed for 375 yards, Ryan Broyles caught for 158 yards, and the question of who would replace Demarco Murray appears to have been answered "Dom Whaley" as Mr. Whaley ran for 131 yards. Next up for the Sooners is the game competing with Mizzou/Arizona State as "Big 12 Game of the Week" next week, as Oklahoma travels to Tallahassee to face ACC favorite Florida State.
Much like TLN, the Longhorns got off to a slow start against Rice, leading only 13-6 at halftime. It would also be wrong to say that UT broke the game open in the second half, as the final tally was not reached until there were less than six minutes remaining, but UT did win comfortably after starting running back Fozzy Whitaker scored on a 26-yard reception. Much-maligned quarterback Garrett Gilbert was effective against the Owls, throwing for 239 yards on 13-23 passing. Texas used a balanced attack to roll up more than 500 yards total offense, and the defense yielded only 224 yards and a trio of field goals to Rice. Next weekend, Texas meets
possible future conference mate BYU, which is fresh off a narrow victory over Ole Miss.
Texas A&M Aggies 46, Southern Methodist Mustangs 14
When SMU scored its second touchdown to pull within six points at 20-14, I had the audacity to think the Ponies may make a game of it with the Aggies. Such folly. A defense that had appeared susceptible to SMU's rushing game early in the game stiffened after halftime, ultimately allowing only 79 rushing yards. The Aggie offense was solid, if not spectacular, helped along in the first half by SMU turnovers that led to a silly field-position advantage. Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael combined for 217 rushing yards, while Travis Tannehill was impressive in throwing for 246 yards on 26 attempts. Ryan Swope and Jeff Fuller will present a fearsome receiving duo, especially when Fuller gets healthy. Even if their university is run by a bunch of morons, the Aggies will be a force this year. The Idaho Vandals pay a visit to the SEC's newest team next weekend. It remains to be seen whether the Aggies will suddenly be faster in next weekend's game. You know, ESS EEE SEE SPEED!!!!!!!!1!!1!!! and all.