Hope can be a beautiful thing. It can also be a pain in the ass. In last week's Texas charting post, TB wrote the following:
Like the North Dakota State loss, K-State's loss was all the more frustrating because a slightly different result on two or three plays could have changed the outcome. It's like 2011, but in reverse.
Let's start with the biggest one. With 7:29 left in the third quarter, K-State led 21-17 and had just forced the first turnover of the game, giving them possession at the Cowboy 31 yard line. Two plays later, a questionable fumble by Daniel Sams sucked away any hope of a two score lead. In fact, the four Wildcat possessions after the long scoring drive to open the half were all miserable failures.
|vs Oklahoma St. / 10.5.13||Drives After Third Quarter TD|
|Time of Poss.||Plays||Yards||Result|
Two of those turnovers resulted in six Oklahoma State points. It was a great job by the K-State defense not to allow more than that, but as we know, that's all it took. All in all, the Pokes ended up with nine points off turnovers in the second half.
Now I'm going to break out a little advanced stats action on you. Taking into account the yardage lost at different positions on the field -- what Bill Connelly calls "Equivalent Net Points Per Play" or EqPts Per Play -- the 'Cats lost approximately 2.3 points on false start penalties alone. Around 3.4 more points were lost on defensive penalties. That's roughly the equivalent of a touchdown lost due to penalties according to EqPts. Going off of those stats, K-State lost around 15 points due to penalties and turnovers.
The offensive play calling was a bit more varied and interesting. The Wildcats lined up in with more than three receivers 39% of the time, coming out with five wide for the first time all season on the fifth play of the game. The offensive formations in this game looked even more identical to last season than in any game before. Formations were more varied with a more decided reliance on the run game.
The rotation between Jake Waters and Daniel Sams was more aggravating than ever before. One could argue that the strange times the coaches chose to put Waters in the game made as big of a difference on the scoreboard as penalties and turnovers. Sams took the reigns after the first play and led the 'Cats to the first score of the game in a single play on the second drive with that nifty run pass option we've seen several times -- this one a 67 yard catch and run by Glenn Gronkowski. The defense then gave up a quick touchdown which for some reason signaled the return of Waters, who promptly went three and out.
As I said on Twitter, there was no need to see Waters at any point in this game. Two games into conference play, the coaches have made it clear that they have no interest in changing the offense to suit his skill set. If they haven't done it yet, they won't do it at all. The shakiness of Waters' confidence directly corresponds with the shortness of his leash and he's of no use without the knowledge that he is the guy. In the post game, it seemed very easy for even the staunchest members of #TeamWaters to admit that Sams is the guy.
The defense looked more solid than they have all year, although at times it seemed their success was more a product of the poor play of J.W. Walsh than anything. Even with that however, they still appeared more impressive and consistent than any game all season. At a glance, they seem to be about as effective as the 2011 unit, minus the lucky bounces on turnovers and offensive consistency.
If the coaches do decide to settle on Sams -- and they should -- the consistency might come. K-State won time of possession by more than ten minutes and had three 11 play drives, two of which resulted in points. The problem with Sams though is really the same problem with Waters. No, it's not the turnovers. Like Morse, I'm confident that will work itself out with time. It's that he's still not Collin Klein. Certainly he can run the "Klein plays" better than Waters, but on Saturday, 41% of the Wildcat offensive plays were Sams runs. Unless they plan to dress him like the kid with the glasses in Little Giants, that won't work all year.
Hope can, in fact be a beautiful thing. It's encouraging that this team is able to give the fans hope in a season that will be lucky not to end on November 30. But I, for one, don't want to spend the rest of the season hoping that Daniel Sams is still standing when the final gun sounds. So far, it doesn't seem like I'll have a choice.