Some curious playcalling and beastly running from John Hubert didn’t help Collin Klein’s chances of having the monster statistical day he needed to really make a move in the Heisman race against Kansas. But he did (eventually) help K-State to a comfortable win and kept himself barely ahead of his touchdown pace from a year ago (7 rush/pass vs. 7 rush/6 pass).
I’d like to start a quick debate with our most prolific debater before we move on. Jon Morse suggested in Saturday’s game thread early in the second half that he suspected Bill Snyder "might be trying to pad Klein’s passing numbers for Heisman purposes." I respect Jon’s opinions a lot and perhaps this seemed more reasonable in the heat of the moment (a couple people agreed), but reading it Sunday I found it absolutely absurd.
There’s no precedent or real evidence to back up this bold claim, and no one knows better than Bill Snyder that there is zero chance Klein will ever convince any voters he’s a more capable passer than any of the other quarterbacks in the Heisman race. Plus, with the way Klein was gashing the KU defense on every rush, it’s pretty obvious running the ball (especially inside the 10 when Hubert twice scored instead) would have been the way to go if you were looking to help your quarterback’s Heisman numbers.*
*To be fair, Jon went on to mention most of this in his comment. But then he reiterated his belief about Snyder gunning for the Heisman based on…..well, I’m not exactly sure what.
I think it’s much more likely that Snyder was a) trying to protect his quarterback from the big hits KU defenders admittedly weren’t bringing very often and/or b) simply trying too hard to show the Jayhawks (and future opponents) that the Wildcats do have a passing attack that deserves attention. I can certainly remember other times — with quarterbacks not in contention for any awards — when I’ve been frustrated with Snyder’s penchant to throw too much early in games, particularly against inferior opponents. Your move, Morse.
Klein was virtually unstoppable when running the ball, posting nonconference nonconference De'Anthony Thomas-esque yards per carry numbers to get 116 yards on only 10 carries. He made some brilliant decisions on the option and, as usual, executed the zone read to perfection.
Unfortunately, with the exception of a beautiful 28-yard option keeper, Klein didn't seem to have his typical nose for the endzone. In fact, he narrowly avoided disaster in the first half when he fumbled inside the 5 yard line as KSU was seeking its first lead of the game.
The problem was most evident and only costly for the team at the end of the first half, which I don't even want to talk about. But on a day when Hubert would simply not be denied near the goalline, Optimus' issues cost him at least two touchdowns that could be valuable in a close Heisman race.
To be honest, I think Klein's passing left even more to be desired than usual, and he missed at least two more touchdowns with an overthrown deep ball to Tramaine Thompson and a slightly off-target touch pass to a WIDE OPEN Chris Harper, who did well to catch it before going out of bounds. In fact, Harper had another excellent game and seems to really be regaining the aggressive form that made him KSU's most valuable target a year ago.
Fortunately, Klein did provide voters who didn't watch the game with some nice highlights, including the perfect touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett. As for the Travis Tannehill touchdown, it's truly wonderful to see the tight end becoming a more prominent part of the passing game, and Klein seems to be doing fine with his accuracy on the rollouts.
Overall Klein was just 7-of-14, which is a bit of a hit to his 67% completion rate for the season. I don't want to see that get any lower than 65, and it's a little concerning that it has now decreased in four straight games.
On the plus side, he hasn't turned the ball over in two conference games. Also, it should be taken into consideration that he achieved all of this while playing just under three quarters and barely spent any time on the field, relatively speaking.
What he needs this week
Running the ball should be considerably harder against a somewhat scary Iowa State linebacking corps, though as usual Klein will have the advantage of showing his opponents something unlike anything they've seen this season. He averaged just 3.3 yards per carry last year against the Cyclones, though it's worth mentioning they may have underestimated Hubert, who averaged 8 yards per carry.
Assuming that doesn't happen again, it's reasonable if ambitious to assume Klein can surpass 100 yards for the second straight game. Even more importantly, he could really use another three-touchdown game.
His passing must be better, both to help the ‘Cats finally get a comfortable win in Farmageddon (one can dream) and to assuage the fears that his accuracy may not be as improved as we thought. Maybe a few more shorter passes to help the completion rate and gain some confidence would help, and a fifth game with a passing touchdown sure would be nice.
Simply winning isn't going to impress the national media at Iowa State, even if it's more difficult than it seems. This would be a great time to hit 250 yards through the air for the first time this year and another week of big chunks on every play might raise some eyebrows.
Aaron Murray took an absolutely remarkable nosedive, completing 11 of 31 passes for just 109 yards. Since he threw only one interception, I'm going to leave his candidacy on life support for now.
He's still a lot better than either quarterback in that awful offensive display between LSU and Florida. I really don't understand why anyone would have wanted to watch that game as opposed to, say, West Virginia vs. Texas (I know, they weren't at the same time).
I also found it quite comical that after I mentioned the quarterbacks at Texas A&M and Nebraska last week, both proceeded to have awful games. Texas' David Ash didn't have a bad game, but he did still lose.
Collin Klein, QB, KSU: 63-94 (67%), 887 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 73 rush, 405 yards, 7 TD
E.J. Manuel, QB, Florida State: 105-149, 1,365 yards, 10 TD, 2 INT, 42 rush, 181 yards, 1 TD
A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama: 73-111 (65.8%), 999 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 19 rush, -41 yards
Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia: 99-160 (61.9%), 1,479 yards, 12 TD, 4 INT, 25 rush, -17 yards, 3 TD
Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia: 166-204 (81.4%), 1,996 yards, 24 TD, 0 INT, (25-35, 268 71.4, 4) 26 rush, 66 yards, 1 TD
Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia: 49 rec, 710 yards, 13 TD
Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor: 34 rec, 667 yards, 6 TDs, 1 rush, 8 yards
Smith merely threw for 268 yards at a 71% clip against a supposedly good Texas defense last weekend, so it was a rather pedestrian performance. He went right on by Klein's total passing yardage for last season, and we're not even halfway through the season.
Though Matt Barkley might have made it on the list if not for his part in handing Utah two touchdowns early courtesy of fumbled snaps, the only newcomer on the list is Bailey. His numbers are just too absurd not to include, even if he's not a real threat because he's always going to be in the shadow of his quarterback, not to mention the flashier Tavon Austin.
Manuel had a pretty terrible week in his team's embarrassing loss, so if he doesn't put up massive numbers against the atrocious Boston College defense this Saturday, he might be out. McCarron and Williams also need to show me something coming off of a bye week.
What others are saying
Klein remains third in the CBS Sports/Heisman Pundit poll, which bumped the quarterback I refuse to mention because he plays for an irrelevant team in a terrible conference up to No. 2. It appears Chris Huston simply didn't want to move De'Anthony Thomas from No. 4 despite another lackluster performance, based on the blurb that explicitly says Thomas has not been productive.
At least Klein is second by a wide margin (without a 1st place vote) in the HP Straw Poll, which includes some idiot who gave Marqise Lee a first place vote and didn't put Geno Smith in his top 3. Seriously.
SI.com has the same top 3 but moved McCarron up to No. 4, which just shows you how many of the top guys had terrible weekends. ESPN continued the trend by putting Klein third, but at least Gene Wojciechowski and friend of BOTC David Ubben were smart enough to not get caught up in the red and silver nonsense, putting Klein second.
The Sporting News emphasizes the importance of the looming K-State vs. West Virginia matchup and includes a poorly placed Geno Smith photo. Again, Klein is third behind the same two guys, though we've got some serious variation with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o in fourth.
Bleacher Report put Klein in a tie for second with the quarterback who was fortunate enough to face Nebraska last Saturday. At this point, I'd like to point out their passing numbers were eerily similar (7-14 for both, 129 yards for Klein, 127 yards for the other guy) and Klein had almost the exact same yards per carry average on six fewer carries.
Most importantly, Klein doubled his adversary's touchdown total, 4-2. So why did Urban Meyer's quarterback (who had the added benefit of playing all 4 quarters) jump Bill Snyder's on virtually every Heisman ballot this week? I don't understand.