Ugly. That was the most common descriptor for the weather in Austin yesterday, but it could have just as easily applied to the game between Kansas State and Texas. Played in wet, muddy conditions, the game saw sloppy play from both teams, with the Longhorns able to capitalize on mistakes from Kansas State, while the Wildcats failed to make the most of the opening provided.
I would say that was uncharacteristic for Kansas State, but so far, this season has defied explanation even as it's thwarted expectation.
Still, there were some sparks yesterday. The defense was solid for the most part, especially in the second half. Charles Jones had a career day, rushing for 122 yards and showing some speed and elusiveness in the process. The receivers mostly ran the right routes and caught the ball, at least when they were anywhere in its vicinity.
That brings us to the elephant in the room. Joe Hubener is not the future, we already knew that. Unfortunately, he may not even be much of the present, which is a harder pill to swallow. I see a lot of things when I see Hubener. I see a guy who tries hard on every down. I see a guy who can take big licks, but who keeps getting back up for the next play. I see a guy who cares so much that he'd be out there giving 100% if his arm fell off mid-game. I see a guy who took a lot of criticism from fans on Twitter, only a tiny bit of which might have been warranted. (Hubener has since set his Twitter account to private, and I can't say I blame him).
But effort and determination only get a player so far. To be useful, those qualities have to be combined with ability and aptitude for the playbook. In Hubener's case, the latter two don't quite meet the high bar set by his predecessors. Either he's never had the elusive "it", or he's lost it over the course of the past few weeks, and I'm not sure this team gets very far unless he finds it (again).
Kansas State lost to Texas 23-9, and as Jon Morse suggests in his post-game recap, this loss can be pinned on a single factor: For Want of a Quarterback.
In the Wichita Eagle, Kellis Robinett focuses on Kansas State's inability to move the ball, and while Bill Snyder thought the weather was partially to blame, it was obvious the offense simply made too many mistakes to be successful. The article also features this quote from Sean Newlan. You can almost feel the desperation now:
It is go time now. Every game is vital. If we want to have the type of season we can have, every game, every day, every practice, every film session is vital. We have to take it to heart and put it on our shoulders and we have to turn this around.
Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal notes that, despite a fourth consecutive loss, Kansas State seems to have found its ground game again. Jones ran with authority for what seems like the first time this season. Still, when Kansas State needed just three yards, they didn't give him the ball. As Snyder noted, "[o]nce again, we made so many mistakes that were critical in the outcome of the ballgame...we had our opportunities and passed up on a number of them."
The K-State Collegian's Timothy Everson was less inclined to look for silver linings in the defeat, calling out Kansas State's offense for ineptitude and inefficiency. Kansas State had 11 offensive possessions and scored on only two, with only a single touchdown.
Ugly games can still make pretty wins, at least according to Kirk Bohls in the Austin American-Statesman, because nobody asks how you won the game. Ugly wins also suit the no-frills Charlie Strong just fine, especially since the Longhorns are now on a two-game win streak and flirting with a .500 record.
The volleyball team is on a streak too, but this time, it's a winning streak. Kansas State just won its second consecutive match on the road, sweeping Texas Tech 3-0 (25-20, 26-24, 25-19) yesterday in Lubbock. The Wildcats have now won three of the last four, mostly on the strength of its defense, a unit that has held opponents to under .200 hitting in those three wins. The offense is ticking too. Two players hit double digits for kills, 14 for Brooke Sassin and 12 for Katie Reininger who also led the team in blocks with five. She was joined by Katie Brand and Macy Flowers who each had five blocks as well.
Up next, another road game, this time at West Virginia. The Wildcats will take on the Lady 'Eers on Wednesday.