These will be a bunch of random thoughts about the game this weekend, considering I was at the game and did not have the benefit of ESPN2's wonderful announcers telling me what was going on.
We actually looked like we had an offense Saturday night. We made an attempt to throw downfield and thus stretch the defense. The offensive line didn't give Josh Freeman a lot of time, but they didn't give up a sack, either. Center Trevor Viers deserves a lot of respect for stepping into the injured Jordan Bedore's shoes against a tough defense and playing well.
We FINALLY made more than a half-hearted attempt to establish a running game. As my friend Steve put it, just because James Johnson (or Leon Patton, for that matter) get stuffed on some running plays doesn't mean you quit trying to run. Johnson is a playmaker, and the more times you put the ball in his hands, the more likely you are to see him make a play. We saw that Saturday. Even with a 17 yard loss against him, Johnson had 159 yards rushing against what had been a stingy defense. Coach Franklin, please keep giving him the ball.
I kind of liked the late kickoff. It gave us a chance to tailgate for a looooong time. Considering this was my first trip back to Bill's House in almost two years, and the first time I had seen some friends in the last six months, the extra time was welcome. Plus the stadium looks awesome under the lights at night like that.
The total yards didn't show it, but the defense put in a good effort. I was especially impressed by the halftime adjustments to slow Hugh Charles, who absolutely gashed us in the first half. I never did see the total, but Charles had to pick up the vast majority of his 171 rushing yards in the first half, most of it through gaping holes right in the middle of the K-State defensive line. In the second half, that running room was nowhere to be found. On top of that, three interceptions and a fumble recovery look awfully nice. The interception by Chris Carney was amazing, I didn't even see him coming until he actually caught the ball. On the fumble recovery, you could tell Cody Hawkins was more worried about getting crushed by Ian Campbell than he was about actually recovering the ball.
Speaking of Cody Hawkins, I was unimpressed. He went 19-41 with three interceptions and made some really poor throws downfield. It was a bit windy, so maybe that explains it, but he did not look like he was in rhythm. I'm not sure why, but it looked like a lot of the time CU stayed with Hawkins calling out signals, even out of the shotgun, when the crowd was really loud. It led to one delay of game penalty and two timeouts burned.
Jordy Nelson was, well, Jordy Nelson. He only caught four passes, but was good for 93 yards. It's obvious teams are really starting to key on him, and it's opening up other options in the passing game. I thought the coaches did a good job of getting Deon Murphy involved in plays outside the passing game, where he has really been a nonfactor lately. The end around to him was beautifully executed, he had three blockers out in front who had nobody to block. Now if he would just be a little more consistent catching the ball...
This was a big win. We're right back in the thick of the North race, half a game behind KU, tied with CU (owning the tiebreaker obviously), and half a game ahead of Mizzou. Things will continue to shake out next week, when the Cats travel to play Oklahoma State, KU heads up to the thin mountain air to play Colorado in Boulder, and Mizzou gets a home test against Texas Tech in a game where the over will be a very good bet. Can't wait.
That's all I got for now. It's gonna be a helluva week, but you can expect regular posting to resume tomorrow.