I had a lot of fun doing it last week so I thought I would give my analysis of the game this week as well upon watching the replay. I'm going to try to dive a bit deeper than I did last week and attempt to get a sense of where the Cats really are as a team, as hard as that is to do with only two games played so far. Not to mention that we really have no idea how good (or bad) Miami is given the two efforts they've put up so far.
Klein once again was extremely efficient and effective for the K-State offense. We all know the stat line but he did a great job managing the game and keeping the offense on the field and the clock running by completing nearly all of his passes. He still shows a lot of hesitation in the pocket though, which may affect him later in the year as the competition gets tougher. On his first pass attempt of the game, he hit Chris Harper near the sideline for eight yards on first down but he had Travis Tannahill wide open down the field for what could have possibly been a huge touchdown. Granted, Klein is a trained game manager and he will always default to the sure thing with a short pass on an early down, but it would be nice to see him make those reads and hit the bigger plays here early in the year. All and all it was a pretty stellar game for Klein and almost exactly what I imagine Coach Snyder wants to see from his star quarterback. If not for the one interception on an under thrown attempt to Chris Harper, Optimus Klein would have turned in a near flawless performance.
Hubert had another fantastic game rushing for 106 yards on 19 carries and looked to be hitting the holes harder and more decisively than I've seen him do yet. He is definitely the key to the Cats balance on offense and—as we saw in game one—he has the ability to break the big play. It didn't happen today but as we get deeper into the schedule with teams like West Virginia, Kansas or Texas Tech, we may see him break another big one. We all know that's not what HCBS football is all about though, and Hubert, like Klein, does an excellent job of executing the Snyder way. He did have the one fumble but made a great play to reverse his body's momentum down by the goal line to put a lid on it and save the turnover. In my opinion, there weren't too many other plays in the game that epitomized Snyder's "16 goals" more than that effort to get back to the ball and keep possession.
Here's a stat that some of you may have missed. Chris Harper was the only Kansas State receiver targeted in the game that did not have at least one catch for over 25 yards. That is most likely more a tribute to Miami's poor pass defense than anything else, and it's made a little less spectacular when you consider that Klein only targeted a total of five receivers in the game, but still a great stat nonetheless. Sophomore tight end Zach Trujillo was the Cats second leading receiver in the game with 58 yards on only one reception. Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson, who each accounted for three catches, had 59 and 57 yards respectively.
There's a saying in college football that a teams biggest improvement comes between weeks one and two and that couldn't have been more true about the K-State defense. A team that couldn't even tally a single hurry against lowly Missouri State last week registered five sacks and a total of ten tackles for loss against Miami. The pass defense remains suspect though and although the numbers may look good on paper, if not for several dropped passes by Miami wideouts this might have been a whole different ball game. In fact, my defensive MVP for the Cats almost has to be Miami true freshman running back Duke Johnson who dropped several wide open targets from quarterback Stephen Morris and even accounted for somewhat of a forced fumble when he was shoved into Morris by a K-State defender late in the game. One major positive to take away from the defensive performance is that it appears that not too many teams will be able to run on the Cats defense. Miami isn't exactly Wisconsin up front but they're no slouches either and K-State was able to consistently dominate the line of scrimmage. But as we all know, in the Big 12 running the football isn't exactly a priority for most squads. This unit is still the scariest on the field in my eyes. I don't think we'll truly know where we're at defensively until after September 22. But I think fans do have a reason to feel a little better. At least we have a few sacks.
The special teams turned in another solid performance. Except for a badly missed field goal by Anthony Cantele and a late game garbage time kick return by Duke Johnson that led to the Canes only touchdown, the special teams unit was indeed special. It was also good to see Ryan Doerr back and seemingly at full strength with that unbelievable 52 yard punt into the wind.
The Cats are not Boise State or Oregon and they should not try trick plays. Ever.
I loved this HCBS quote in the post-game press conference when asked if he was pleased that Curry Sexton was able to score a touchdown after the journey he's had:
"What's pleasing to me is not the touchdowns. It's the fact that he is a great young man who works diligently and if touchdowns are significant then he deserves it."
That quote right there is why I consider Bill Snyder to be hands down the best coach in college football and maybe all of major sports. I truly believe that Snyder cares more about his players and his community than he does the number in the win column. The wonderful thing for us fans is the fact that the values Snyder preaches, coupled with the type of players he attracts and prefers just happens to translate to wins for the program.