What a difference a month of good football makes. After North Dakota State, Morse and The Intern were fighting for the wrist-cutting razor . Then, quarterback drama and three consecutive losses. Now, defense and points. Makes it easy to breathe in that crisp November Flint Hills air when things are good fo' real.
And while you inhale, we present this week's round table and all of its (mostly) pleasant offerings:
On your sunshine-iest, or drunkest, or cup-spilleth-over-iest day, did you see the Lubbock performance happening?
Derek: After the way Oklahoma State dismantled their defense, I was pretty confident that we'd win, but by this much? With John Hubert going 63 yards up the sidelines and KSU scoring on all five first half possessions? No way. The first half was baffling.
Jon: Well, yeah. On my shiniest day. I expected a win. I didn't expect an ass-whipping.
TB: I was strangely confident, and thought that if we played really well we could win comfortably, but no. A 35-10 halftime lead was beyond even my wildest imagination.
Kitchen: Oh, haaaayl nah. Full disclosure ... no, I didn't expect to win. Would I have been surprised? No, not at all considering the last spread I checked was TTU -1.5 at home. Inside the lines, you saw what trending up and trending down looks like when those things run into each other; it's not pretty if you're on the downside of things.
This year is what it is, which is a virtual lock for a bowl game, extra practices, etc., but, for fun, what have the last three weeks done for your 2014 football expectations?
Derek: Losing Hubert is a big unknown since we've yet to see Jarvis Leverett, Jr. or Charles Jones or anyone else who's not a senior run with the football. There will be a few more holes to fill on the offense but the defense should get better. As long as neither quarterback relieves himself in the other's Cheerios over the offseason, I don't see any reason why we won't be better next year.
Jon: That being said, the Cats' losses are pretty minimal (especially in comparison to last off-season). Both QBs return, along with Lockett, Gronk, the Beast, most of the O-Line, a good portion of the defense... I think K-State will not only be expected to be better next year, but there may be actual pre-season hype.
TB: We're getting back to what I had been expecting all along. Before the year, I thought we needed to use 2013 to sustain the 2011-12 momentum for a big run in 2014 (and maybe 2015 with Sams). If K-State wins out to go 8-4, we'll have basically exceeded my preseason expectation, because I assumed 8-4 with a win over North Dakota State. Plug a few holes on defense, and the Cats would be in contention for the 2014 Big 12 title.
Kitchen: Exactly right, TB. This season took the scenic route past Chernobyl to wind up on track. Barring any career-ending injuries or an El Niño-fueled police blotter next summer, I'm looking for anyone who actually watches football to have K-State in their preseason Top 25. After that, it's on the team.
It's not a matter of if, but when you'll name your next-born, regardless of sex, Ryan Mueller. Right?
Derek: I've known girls named Ryan. If you're gonna name your daughter Ryan, she might as well be named after a bad-ass sack machine. Right?
Jon: If you think I'm going to allow any more of my demonspawn loose on this planet, you're crazy. Maybe I'll name my next cat Ryan, though...
TB: Can't do it. Just not a fan of either name.
Kitchen: I want to get a second dog and name it Tom Brady, just so I can say things like, "Stop pooping on the floor, Tom Brady!" or "No, don't lick yourself, Tom Brady!" I suppose I could do the same for a human kid and Ryan Mueller, and I'll consider taking up that name-changing legal fight the first time I get served with papers telling me I'm the father.
Okay, two-part deal here: Give your knee-jerk, rant-style reaction to K-State's loss to Northern Colorado last week, just to get it off of your chest, and then give your reasoned analysis. (That's to assume there is a difference ...)
Derek: Generally, I don't discuss round ball sports during oblong ball season, but I'll just say this. If this team doesn't start making the round ball go into the nylon net more, I probably won't discuss their particular round ball sport even when the bowls are over.
Jon: HEY NICE JOB SPRADWELL. WAY TO SHOOT THE DAMN BASKETBALL. ...my reasoned analysis is pretty much exactly the same thing, only without the shouting.
TB: I'm so resigned to this season that nothing can really make me mad about it. The last thing I want is another coaching change, and I can't in good conscience cheer for K-State to fail to see it happen, but I have plenty of doubts about whether Bruce Weber can achieve even a basic level of success in Manhattan (last year excepted, obviously).
Kitchen: My knee-jerk reaction is that K-State missed wide open shots (seniors) and didn't rebound (everybody not named Iwundu), all while guys tried to prove they could be something they aren't (seniors being go-to players because, hey, experience; whatever that's good for).
I know we (fans and media) all think we have this coaches and team performance thing boiled down to a formula, but sometimes, bluntly, it ain't the coach's fault. In K-State's spot, it's even more complicated when a portion of this fan base STILL acts like the victim of an abusive relationship in thinking Frank Martin left everything in fantastic shape and Bruce Weber is wrecking it all. For (bleep) sake, get over it.
That said, the biggest performance problems on this team through two games are centered on guys from the Martin camp. I know ... how dare me, and how dare Weber for designing sets that result in wide open missed jumpers. I won't even touch free throws in the Northern Colorado game because I don't like vomiting over the same thing twice.
Looking ahead, Bruce would do himself, and the program, a lot of favors, in my opinion, by exposing his freshmen to as many minutes as possible this year, letting them galvanize, and having them be ready to contribute fully next year when the front court should, in theory, be greatly improved.