Kansas State simply could not get the offense untracked this afternoon, ruining a solid defensive performance as the Wildcats lurched to a 17-10 defeat to the Tulane Green Wave at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
The first 24 minutes of this game were straight garbage. K-State (2-1) gained 88 yards on four possessions without accomplishing anything, and trailed 7-0 following a one-yard touchdown run by Tyjae Spears which capped a nine play 90-yard drive by the Green Wave (3-0).
Then the officials handed the Wildcats an undeserved gift. Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt completed a first-down pass to Shae Wyatt, but it was inexplicably called incomplete despite replays not showing any real evidence that the ball wasn’t under control.
Tulane was forced to punt. The offense finally got untracked, mounting a 75-yard drive which culminated with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kade Warner, his first career touchdown reception. Tulane moved the ball well on the ensuing drive, but Daniel Green picked off Pratt in K-State territory and made it all the way to the Tulane 23 before being dragged down.
The Cats got inside the ten, and with time running out Martinez opted for a shovel pass inside to Ben Sinnott to get to the four with only seven seconds left in the half. After a timeout, he threw the ball away — perhaps missing a shot at a fairly open Malik Knowles — and K-State had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Chris Tennant to end the half with a 10-7 lead.
The Wildcats got the ball to start the second half, and were moving well until Martinez barely overthrew Phillip Brooks on what would have been a huge gain. Three plays later, on fourth-and-eight at the Tulane 41, the Cats went for it; Martinez tried to get it with his legs but only picked up seven.
Pratt hit Deuce Watts for 22 yards on the first play, and ran for 24 two plays later. A sack by Felix Anudike-Uzomah helped stall the drive, but the Green Wave were still able to convert a Kriston Esnard field goal from 30 to tie the game.
The teams traded three-and-outs twice, then K-State managed to get into Tulane territory without Deuce Vaughn, who headed into the locker room under his own steam. But DJ Giddens was stopped short of a first down when he ran into Warner, his lead blocker, and then the Cats failed on another fourth down conversion to turn the ball over.
They were saved by a holding penalty on the ensuing drive, and then Kobe Savage snatched a batted ball out of the air for the second interception of the game just as Vaughn ran back out from the locker room to rejoin the team. But the Cats went three-and-out.
Then Tulane had to punt, and then K-State failed on yet another fourth down conversion, and then the defense just melted. Tulane five plays to go 52 yards, scoring on a four-yard pass from Pratt to Tyrick James to go up 17-10.
Three-and-out, and K-State finally opted to punt from midfield with 2:18 to play. At the two-minute mark, after K-State had burned its timeouts, Pratt got a first down on a sneak on fourth-and-one, and Tulane knelt out the clock.
Martinez was 21-31 for 150 yards, with one touchdown and no turnovers, and was not sacked. Pratt was 13-26 for 178 with a touchdown, two picks, was sacked twice, and still outplayed him. Pratt even outrushed Martinez, picking up 87 yards to Adrian’s 59.
Deuce Vaughn was K-State’s leading rusher with 81 yards, but it took him 20 carries to get there. Giddens added 46 on nine carries. Knowles had 52 yards on five catches, Warner had 46 on four, and Vaughn caught eight passes for only 30 yards.
What We Learned
1) Martinez isn’t working.
Let’s be clear; this obviously isn’t a turnover problem. K-State has yet to turn the ball over with Martinez under center, but that’s because he’s taking zero risks and is playing tentatively. It’s not the play calling. We shrugged and assumed that was the case in the South Dakota game, and Missouri we just didn’t care.
But today, there were bad decisions and tentative throws that were clearly not caused by Collin Klein calling bad plays. On the final failed fourth down conversion, Martinez could have pitched to Vaughn for an easy first down, and ate the ball. He threw the ball away at the end of the first half rather than throwing to a mostly-open Knowles just because a defender was in the area. He simply refused to look downfield; receivers were open, and you can rest assured that any South Dakota “stay conservative” excuse was not in play.
2) That’s it.
I’ve got nothing else this week. The defense was fine except on two drives, the latter coming after an entire half with hardly any time to rest. This disaster was entirely on the offense, mostly on Martinez. The defense could play lights out next week and K-State could still lose by 17.
Players of the Game
On defense, Daniel Green gets the honor for his interception and general overall goodness. On offense? Deuce by default; his streak of 100-yard games ended, but he still managed 81 on the ground despite Tulane not having anything else to worry about besides Deuce.
Oklahoma, in Norman, which would normally be cause for excitement since K-State’s won three of the last five there, but with this offense it’s probably going to be a nightmare.