Midway through the first quarter yesterday, I thought we were going to see the worst example of my biggest frustration with this program: inconsistency. Josh Freeman threw an interception. We committed a couple dumb penalties. There was no spark, or at least the crowd sounded dead on the radio. Anyway, my observations via listening (partially) on the radio and looking at the stats.
What was good...
Jordy Nelson. Period. End of sentence. Get him in the talk for All-American. Hell, get him in the talk for Heisman. Nobody in the country has performed as consistently well as Nelson has. What did he do? Oh, just the usual, caught eight passes for more than 100 yards and had a receiving touchdown. Also returned a punt 92 yards for a touchdown--although maybe he shouldn't be back there returning punts with less than 30 seconds left--but I digress. All those stats add up to the single-season receptions leader at K-State, and he still has four regular-season games to go.
I'm looking for video of the great one-handed catch Nelson had, but have so far come up empty. If anyone has it, please send it along to email@example.com (I'll give you credit for contributing, promise).
Credit should also go to the running game for picking up 208 yards, including a 100-yard individual rusher in Leon Patton. This week we attempted 46 rushes--and averaged 4.5 yards per attempt--while attempting 36 passes. That stands in contrast to last week's 52 passes and 23 rushes. Wonder of all wonders, we won the time of possession battle!
A pat on the back goes to the defense for pretty much doing what was expected of it. The unit held Baylor to just 13 yards rushing, including five sacks for 49 lost yards. The defense also picked off three passes--including one by nose tackle Steven Cline--and forced four fumbles. Well done.
Outside of the early interception, Josh Freeman had another good game, completing 66 percent of his passes and averaging 7.5 yards per attempt. Daniel Gonzalez deserves recognition for an outstanding game, catching seven passes for 104 yards. We really need to see another receiver step up, and Gonzalez has been fairly consistent. Sounds like Deon Murphy was hurt late, no idea of the extent of that injury, so that makes Gonzalez' production doubly important.
Moving on to the bad...
How much bad can you find in a 51-13 blowout? More than you should, in this case. The Cats went into intermission leading just 16-6. Those 16 points included three field goals, which were the result of three squandered red zone opportunities.
I could tell from the beginning the team was flat and unfocused based on the early penalties and Freeman's interception, not to mention the non-existent crowd noise. Here is hoping that can be solely attributed to last week's disappointment at Oklahoma State. We can't afford to come out flat like that in any of the remaining games. As average as Iowa State and Nebraska have been, we'll be behind at halftime if we play like that. Mizzou will bury us early if we play like that. And Fresno State doesn't have much defense, but they'll take advantage of mistakes like that. We've seen fast starts all year, we need to start seeing them again.
A win is a win, but when you don't control your own destiny, that's not always enough. Our Aggie friends did us no favors with their one-dimensional offense against the 'beaks. As you all know, we must win out to have a chance at the North, and we have every reason to believe that could happen. Iowa State has looked much better the last two weeks, but they haven't gotten over the hump. Nebraska played well for three quarters against Texas before Jamaal Charles ran wild. And Mizzou is really good, but they showed they can play a flat game every once in a while this weekend, and there will be a lot of emotion in Bill's House that day when Jordy Nelson and the other seniors play their last home game.
So what does it all mean? Here are the standings...
Iowa State 0-5
At a minimum, we need to win out, have KU lose two games, and have Mizzou lose only to us. That would leave a three-way tie at 6-2 in conference, which would throw the decision regarding the North representative into a complicated series of questions that I'll get to later this week. Of course, that all assumes KU loses two games, and with tilts against Nebraska (home), Oklahoma State (road), Iowa State (home) and Mizzou (neutral), that's no guarantee. Of course, it would be far better if KU lost three and we won out, but do you really see KU losing three of those games? I don't.
That's all fun to debate, but we still have other obstacles ahead, starting with bowl eligibility. I would like to see that wrapped up next weekend in Ames, because I don't want to count on games in Lincoln, against Mizzou and at Fresno to get to six or seven wins. Check in here and at Clone Chronicles this week for coverage of this weekend's game. Oh, and if you live in Houston and get the VERSUS channel, let me know. The beer is on me.