Sunday, September 25, 2011

Reflections and Predictions

Win the turnover battle: check
Create holes for Klein and Hubert to run through: check
Play solid defense: check

Three things we needed to do to win, and three things we did to win. But enough about my amazing coaching abilities... haha just kidding. Seriously, when I wrote those things I did not expect K-State to accomplish them or even win as a result if they did. Which they almost didn't. Thankfully they did and we were all on cloud nine for a few beautiful hours. Bowl games now seem within reach as we are halfway there and 3-0 is obviously the best start we could have hoped for. Then I had to watch the terror that is Robert Griffin III destroy Rice and realized as tough as this week's game was, next week's is going to be tougher. But more about that later.

First I have to say that Collin Klein is the real deal. He's fourth in the Big XII in rushing yards per game and the first three are running backs. He finds holes where there are none and executes the offense as well as Bill Snyder could hope for. He even showed off his arm a bit on Saturday, hitting Tyler Lockett with a PERFECT pass for a touchdown in the first half and amassing over 100 yards through the air. He also had a nifty little jump pass to Travis Tannehill for a touchdown. Miami defenders did say before the game that Klein reminded them of Tim Tebow- maybe that gave Snyder some ideas....

Hubert finally showed why he is the featured back in a running back race that was extremely close in the off-season with 166 yards and the go-ahead, stay-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. I was a little scared going into this game that we had no running attack besides Klein, but Hubert shows we can still be a force on the ground. The offensive line had a lot to do with that too, as they played incredibly well. Not overlooked was BJ Finney (the center) recovering TWO offensive fumbles and keeping possession at critical points in the game. The receivers and tight ends played well enough, making catches when we needed them and NOT fumbling. Let's keep that up shall we?

Now on to the defense. Oh the defense. The run defense is incredibly improved. Besides the one sixty-yard touchdown they gave up, they were solid and stiff against the run. That running back was getting hit from all sides and couldn't even lift his arms midway through the fourth quarter. Arthur Brown, Tre Walker, and Emmanuel Lamur are starting to look like the Lynch Mob of old. I probably just jinxed them by saying that, as that seems to be what happens whenever we use those words, but I couldn't help it. They are FAST and PHYSICAL and gosh darnit THEY TACKLE!!! The d-line didn't get any sacks, but Adam Davis had a bunch of tackles and Kibble continues to fill the middle. They also were a huge part of that goal line stand. Oh yeah, the goal line stand. When has anyone ever seen that from the K-State defense? Tre Walker tackling Jacory Harris short of the goal line on fourth and goal from the 2 was one of the best defensive plays I've ever seen. Period. He ran him down! A quarterback known for his speed and strength! And Tre caught him AND tackled him! Just amazing. Now to the worst part of the game- the pass defense. They did not look good. Besides Nigel Malone's INT there was no pass defense. They got some good tackles in there but were consistently beat deep. That's scary. Miami took advantage of that often, and I'm surprised it wasn't more. Baylor will take advantage more.

On to Baylor. Best Baylor team maybe ever. And it's all because of their quarterback Robert Griffin III. The man has MORE TOUCHDOWN PASSES THAN INCOMPLETIONS. Read that again. He is 70/82 (12 incompletions) with 13 touchdowns. Not 12 interceptions, 12 INCOMPLETIONS. He actually has ZERO interceptions. So yeah. I'm scared. Granted, they haven't played anyone with much of a defense (TCU, Stephen F Austin, Rice) but still. You have to be good to put up those numbers against anybody. So really, I don't see us stopping Baylor. Even with a solid defensive performance, we're going to give up some points. One key, as usual, would be turnovers. But so far Baylor hasn't been very prone to those, so I'm not sure we can count on any. The difference in this game will be Baylor's defense, which is worse than Miami's. That might not mean much though. We're good enough to stop Baylor at times. But it's going to be up to our offense to play BETTER than they did against Miami. I'm not sure that's possible. Like I said, Baylor's defense is worse than Miami's, but it's still up to the offense to execute. And not only execute, but throw the ball deep and get some long runs. Get momentum early, don't turn the ball over, and get some big plays on offense. There. Those are my three keys for next week. Will Coach McCandless prevail again? I'm about as optimistic as last week, which is not very. So we will see...

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Some K-State Comparisons

So I was trying to figure out if K-State really did get better in their second game of the season when I decided to "crunch some numbers" (as Michael Scott says). Sure the scores were vastly different- you can't very well argue that a team didn't play better when one week they scratch out a 10-7 victory over an FCS school and their 3rd string qb while the next week earn their first shutout in five years and score 37 points. Nonetheless, the results of my number crunch were interesting though I'm not sure they really tell us much.

(This would not be a fun game to watch, by the way)

First, the most glaring similarity:
K-State offense week 1: 303yrds-21 first downs, week 2: 335yrds-24 first downs.

Granted, thirty yards different is nothing to scoff at, but I think it's safe to say that the offense played relatively similarly to the first week as far as production is concerned.

Opponent offense week 1: 119yrds-7 first downs, week 2: 199yrds-13 first downs.

Again, an eighty yard difference isn't that similar, but it's still under 200 yards, allowing the similarity to be drawn yet again that the defense played about the same.

The final similarity: K-State takeaways week 1: 2, week 2: 2

In both games K-State was able to intercept two passes, two by Nigel Malone in week 1, one by David Garret and Tysyn Hartman each in week 2. Here's where the differences start: David Garrett's first quarter interception was returned for a touchdown, getting the score out of the way and giving K-State some early confidence.

Now for the differences that I think made the most difference.

K-State turnovers week 1: 5, week 2: 0

I think it's pretty safe to say that we'll win a lot of ball games if we don't turn the ball over and our defense gets a few of our own. 303 yards of offense in week 1 just wasn't enough to compensate for giving the ball away 5 times, thus the late score was needed to pull out the victory.

Opponent penalties week 1: 8-68yrds, week 2: 11-136yrds

Kent State was called for EIGHT PERSONAL FOULS. You're not going to beat very many teams doing that, unless it's the Oakland Raiders who get called for a similar amount. I don't know if they were just frustrated from an already poor 0-2 start, but they needed to keep their heads on straight if they wanted to avoid 0-3. Guess that didn't happen.

Collin Klein's stats week 1: 13/21 128yrds 1td 1int, 25carries 78yrds, week 2: 9/18 74yrds 1td 0int, 19 carries 139yrds

Obviously the difference here is the rushing yards and yards per carry. Klein really showed what he can do with his feet in the second game, which I think does point to some improvement by the offensive line. He also threw the ball less, which is partly because we were ahead the whole game, but it's also nice to see our true offense being used.

John Hubert's stats week 1: 17 carries 91yrds, week 2: 9 carries 29 yards

Here is where the offensive line concerns me. If they can't run block for our starting rb (and the backups didn't have much either), then we are going to be in trouble. Maybe it was the lanes he was picking, or maybe it was because he didn't get as many chances as he did in week 1, but regardless the line has to do better. If they would have, we might have scored a couple more touchdowns and felt better going into next week's big game at Miami Fl.

Finally, the one that probably makes the least difference in terms of score, but is nice to see nonetheless: Anthony Cantele field goals week 1: 1/2 (made 36, missed 39) week 2: 3/3 (long of 49)

Our kicker has got to have some confidence and I was really worried when he missed the first field goal of the year in the Eastern Kentucky game that he was going to struggle this year and start some kicking battles. Fortunately for him and for K-State, he proved he can be big time and made some big field goals to keep it rolling in the the Kent State game, sealing the deal for him as our starter.

So what does this all mean? Well we did get better, but maybe not in the areas where we most need it. The offensive line has got to get off the ball and get some push or Miami will be all over us. They hounded Ohio State's qb into going 2/14 and only gave up 6 points. That's scary. I think as long as we avoid turnovers and get some of our own, Klein and company will be able to score enough points to win this game. The defense has to be as solid as they have been and keep Jacory Harris from breaking big plays. Arthur Brown has the speed to do it and hopefully he'll be even more motivated than usual playing against his former team. Win the turnover battle, create some holes for Klein and Hubert to run through, play solid defense. Easier said than done, but I think they might just do it...