So that happened. Kansas State lost 40-34 in double overtime to Texas in Austin. The scoreline suggests a close game, but this was more of a beatdown than anything else. The Longhorns were better prepared and more physical than Kansas State last night, and it showed. Texas did a lot of quintessentially Kansas State things: they held the ball for a long time (almost 32 minutes), they ran the ball well (166 yards), and they played clean (just 3 penalties for 30 yards). Unfortunately, it was on a day when the Wildcats didn’t do those things particularly well.
I’m not going to bother with linking the usual recaps. You know where to find them, if you’re so inclined. Jon Morse’s rapid reaction post is, however, well worth a read: This team has issues.
Instead, here’s my stream-of-consciousness thoughts on the game instead.
Texas—finally, finally—looks like a program whose myriad talents are finally coming together. Maybe it’s Tom Herman, or maybe it’s just that Texas is in that part of its ten-year football cycle when recruiting and determination coalesce to create championships. Whatever the reason, Texas is back.
In Sam Ehlinger, the Longhorns finally have that one player who can make all the difference. Ehlinger, an inexplicable marriage of Major Applewhite’s leadership (and jersey number) and Vince Young’s moxie, is the kid Austin has been waiting for. What he lacks in experience he makes up for with boat loads of sheer chutzpah, as amply displayed against both USC and Kansas State.
But Ehlinger didn’t beat the Wildcats all by himself. He had a lot of help, and mostly from those on the sidelines wearing purple, including Bill Snyder. The offensive playcalling, often bearing the brunt of criticism, was not the obvious culprit last night. The schemes were fine, and when executed properly, produced the desired outcome. The problem was the execution. With Jesse Ertz clearly hobbled, would it not have been better to start Alex Delton in the first place? It’s entirely possible Delton cannot handle the full weight of the Kansas State playbook as Ertz can, but Ertz is not healthy now. An injured Ertz cannot execute in the passing game if he can’t use his legs to set those plays up.
The defense though was another issue altogether. The unit was less fierce and less assignment-sound than any other time this season. That Texas could repeatedly run the same quarterback draw play to great success is a great indictment of a defense that has become a model of inefficiency and inconsistency. After the game, there was some indication the defensive staff had been unprepared for Ehlinger to run the draw play. But why? Even if it wasn’t on tape, after Texas had run the play a few times, the Kansas State defense was on notice, right? Where’s the adjustment? Why not try something different? If Jayd Kirby and Trent Tanking are getting picked on, why not put Elijah Sullivan in instead? Why this stubborn insistence on playing the guys who’ve earned it over the guys who really want and/or deserve it?
We’re all disappointed by this loss, of course. But what if we lost because we’re just not that good? What if this is all we are? With all the problems of execution on the field and from the sidelines, what if the ceiling on this team really is just 6-8 games a season? (I’m not especially opposed to this, even if it’s far off the Kansas State expectations established in the late 90s).
You’re reading this and thinking there’s no way that’s true. We won nine games last year, and nine games in 2014, and remember 2011 and 2012? Those were great seasons. That’s what we’re capable of!
I posit to you that we’re being held hostage by our memories of 2011 and 2012. Those seasons were sui generis. Our success wasn’t the result of great planning and execution. It just so happened that a number of totally random events (including so many of Kansas State’s non-offensive scores) coalesced into the 2011 and 2012 seasons: a quarterback who was some combination of armored tank and farm thresher, a wide receiver who could catch meteors falling out of the sky, and a linebacker who could deliver justice with just his pads. These are non-repeatable circumstances, and the 2011 and 2012 seasons aren’t reproducible.
The question now is whether we’ll make it to that 6-8 win threshold.
Three Kansas State players will participate as individuals at the Bill Ross Intercollegiate starting on Monday. J.C. Campbell, Roland Massimino, and Kyle Vance will tee off at 8:30 AM. This is the second time that Campbell (69th last year) and Massimino (78th) will compete at Bill Ross, and just the second career tournament for Vance.
At the Wake Forest Invite in Winston-Salem, the tennis team has a shot to take home both singles and doubles honors.
Ines Mesquita, already 5-0 on the season, won her singles match 6-1, 6-2 and will get a shot at first place in the singles bracket if she can beat today’s opponent. The same is true for Maria Linares who won her singles match 6-0, 6-3.
Mesquita and Linareas also paired up to win their doubles match 8-1. The pair is 2-0 on the season, and should they win their next match, they’ll have a shot at first place in that bracket too.
Kansas State managed a thrilling come-from-behind five-set victory over Texas Tech. The VolleyCats beat the Red Raiders 3-2 (25-15, 23-25, 17-25, 25-18, 15-11) with a great defensive effort. The win snapped a three-match losing streak for Kansas State.
Three players were in the double figures for kills: Bryna Vogel, who led both teams with 16, and Peyton Williams and Kylee Zumach, who each had 11 kills. Vogel also led the team with nine blocks, and the team had 18 blocks total, including six for Elle Sandbothe, four for Macy Flowers and three each for Zumach and for Zsofia Gyimes. Sarah Dixon had the team’s only double-double with 13 digs and 19 assists.
Up next, the VolleyCats travel to Ames on Wednesday to take on #18 Iowa State. First serve is set for 6:30 PM.