Five hours ago, we expected to watch the Cats get railed.
Now, we're disappointed that yet another win slipped away.
Completely goofy decisions regarding extra points came back to bite the Wildcats, as two missed extra points and one decision to go for it on fourth down left five points on the board. Yet another turnover on the penultimate drive, which was followed by Baylor's final score, and all of that put together made the difference between a stunning upset and a double-digit loss.
Today's news, however, wasn't all bad -- far from it. Some good things happened, to wit:
- Great googly moogly, the defense really stood up. Yes, Baylor scored 21 points on ridiculous Baylor touchdown passes of 93, 72, and 54 yards. That's going to happen against Baylor, because Tevin Reese is really frickin' good. The fact that K-State only gave up three of those long TD plays, though, is a massive credit to their effort. Take away those three plays, and Baylor only manages 227 yards of offense and loses 25-14. Of course, you can't take them away, but still. More importantly, Lache Seastrunk was held to only 57 yards on 12 carries.
- Daniel Sams ran for 199 yards. He carried 30 times, and lo and behold he ended up taking a trip to the locker room. But it wasn't just Sams this week. John Hubert got 15 chances to tote the rock and responded with 89 yards. Jake Waters had ten carries for 43 himself, and let's remember these figures include sack yardage reductions. Sams actually ran for over 200, and Waters was a lot more effective in the run game than 43 yards would indicate. In all, the Wildcats managed 326 yards on the ground (plus misapplied sack yardage), and 444 yards of total offense. Baylor only had 446.
- Some guys who've been iffy showed some gumption today. Dorrian Roberts was abused a little in the first half, but on one key sequence near the end of the game Roberts made three great plays to help key a defensive stop. And I don't think we can say enough about Ryan Mueller's performance today.
- Remember last week's ridiculous lack of discipline? Today, four penalties for 36 yards. Good job, guys.
- Notwithstanding all the fun we have at Sean Snyder's expense, the only real flaw on special teams today was Jack Cantele's missed field goal attempt which would have tied the game late. Stephen Johnson uncorked one decent kickoff return, coverage was stellar today, and of course there was the blocked punt.
There are still problems. The passing game was all but non-existent today, with only four pass plays of particular note (most importanty the 12-yard toss from Sams to Torell Miller that set up K-State's final touchdown). Neither quarterback showed any touch, although both showed flashes of good decision-making in critical moments. Randall Evans particularly deserves a call-out for an absolutely horrible first half which included an egregiously stupid penalty which allowed Baylor's opening drive to end in a touchdown rather than a field goal. The playcalling still leaves a lot to be desired.
Critically though, somehow, some way, someone's got to get the quarterbacks to stop committing game-killing turnovers with less than five minutes to go. They've lost four games now, and I don't care whose side you're on, this fact is indisputable:
Both quarterbacks have crapped away the game twice now.
What's the bright side? I think, given how the team performed today, that it's entirely possible for the Cats to run the table from here out and finish 8-4 (6-3). It'll be tough, and both Oklahoma and Texas Tech loom as particular roadblocks, but the team that played Baylor today isn't going to be losing to the bottom half of this league. In all, this was a tight loss to a great team... when we had every reason to expect to get blown out. I'm not into moral victories except when they're indicative of future progress.
So long as the coaching staff doesn't keep throwing this team into a black hole, they proved themselves capable today.