Linked Up: The National Goes United

Rob Leifheit-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Linked Up: As we lounge around in an idle week, we look around SB Nation to channel Jim Harbaugh, fix the Texas Defense, challenge Bearcat assumptions, and see how K-State echoes all these topics.

Hey, guys, check it out. We don't have a game Saturday. What are we going to talk about all week, I wonder? I hope it doesn't degenerate into discussions about Ron Prince being invested as Lord of Riverrun to the strains of Jimmy LaFave in the parking lot of the Emporia Braum's. (I probably just ensured that this is, in fact, precisely what's going to occur, but I categorically deny any responsibility.)

Of course, one thing we can do is take a look at what some other blogs decided to talk about last week while their teams were idle. It's always nice to go visit our friends here at SB Nation, after all.

One thing we, as Wildcat fans, are always concerned about is the fate of the program once Bill Snyder finally packs up his cauldron and wand and goes home for good (and for real this time). Will we find the right successor? We don't know yet, but one thing is certain: as long as the culture Snyder engendered in Manhattan remains intact, we might succeed in continuing his legacy. Jack Blanchat at the Stanford blog Rule of Tree took some time to examine how Stanford's still able to put the screws to Southern Cal in the absence of Jim Harbaugh, and their answer is pretty simple: the program is still imitating Harbaugh, and other programs are taking a cue as well. Can we find someone who can imitate Bill Snyder and focus on the things he's made important in Manhattan?

A bye week is often a good time to take a good hard look at problem areas and spend extra effort in getting them corrected. K-State seems to be clicking on all cylinders -- at least the ones that matter -- but there's still an argument to be made that the Wildcats could do a much better job of stopping the opposition early in drives rather than, you know, letting them march unimpeded to the red zone in order to defend against them more comfortably.

The Longhorns faced a similar issue last week as they prepared to sit back and watch their nemesis (that'd be us) dispatch their primary rival (that'd be the Land Thieves). The Texas defense has not been as brilliant as it was last season. Hapless Wyoming was able to achieve some success, New Mexico was able to control the flow of play for a half, and while the Longhorns' offensive explosion against Ole Miss was certainly eye-opening, so too was the rate at which Texas was allowing the Rebels to score points. Over at Burnt Orange Nation, Wescott Eberts took a look at all this and, parsing Mack Brown's presser comments, discusses the steps Texas is taking to address their defensive issues.

Another thing we can do on an off-week is step back and challenge our own assumptions, especially those we brought with us into the season. We expected Collin Klein to become more of a passer; he has, but perhaps not as much as we expected. Most of his gains in the passing game aren't so much a matter of relying on the pass more than last year but of being far more efficient when he does so; his completion percentage is way up, and I think saying his mistakes are way down might be a Snyderian understatement. Against Oklahoma, Optimus was almost flawless -- not in terms of his completion percentage, but in the sense that he got rid of the ball when he needed to, made only one legitimately bad throw, and in general managed the passing game like a professional.

We also expected the defense to simultaneously be better up front and the same old tire fire in back. We were obviously right about the former, but while the secondary is giving up a ton of big plays, it's what they're not doing that's impressive and meaningful. Opposing quarterbacks are able to hit receivers for middle-yardage gains on the reg; I can't count how many times I've screamed bloody murder at the television so far this season because a receiver was wide open in the flat. An interesting thing's occurring, though: they're getting tackled. The horrific nightmares of last season, when an 18-yard completion over the middle would turn into a 50+ yard touchdown aren't happening. Our cover guys may not be doing a great job of covering (that is, breaking up passes and snagging interceptions), but they are doing a great job of containing, and that's the unassailably mandatory component of the bend-but-don't-break schema.

Matt Opper took some time last week to ponder the same assumptions he and other Bearcat fans had about Cincinnati coming into the season over at Down the Drive. He focuses on what they had expected would be a running back by committee system with Isaiah Pead gone, only to discover they had a perfectly acceptable Number One already sitting in the backfield ready for deployment.

As we take a week to recharge after that oh so glorious conquest over our cousins to the south, take some time to visit our other SB Nation neighbors and see what they're up to. It's worth the trip.

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