Sunday, October 2, 2011
Coach McCandless Loses, K-State Still Wins
Get momentum early: nope
Don't turn the ball over: 1 interception is okay, but still more than none
Big plays on offense: There were a couple, but I'm still calling a whiff on this one
Okay, so I'm no coach. Or analyst. Or guru at all. But right now it doesn't matter because despite K-State's mistakes and miscues yesterday, they are still undefeated, beating Baylor 36-35 in one of the greatest wins in a long time.
From the outset it looked like Baylor was going to be able to do whatever they wanted. Robert Griffin III played pitch-and-catch with Kendall Wright all day. Over the middle, to the outside, deep, short, it seemed RG3 would not be stopped, which we all feared going into this game. But something else was happening that nobody was really expecting. Baylor was turning the ball over. First on a kickoff, then on a short pass with the receiver fumbling the ball. And the K-State offense was scoring touchdowns. Granted, they didn't take advantage of the two turnovers with only one field goal out of those two possessions, but they were still keeping pace with Baylor. Collin Klein was doing his Honey Badger thing. He ran the ball as usual, looked horrible throwing the ball as usual, but still made the plays he had to. Passes to Hubert and Harper for touchdowns were not quite as good as they could have been, but they were still touchdowns. And then K-State went for two at the half with a nifty play that almost worked, driving me crazy. No one should ever go for two until the fourth quarter - you put yourself out of the game too quickly if you miss. But it was still only 21-19 at half, putting K-State in position.
Klein fulfilled one of my predictions for "big plays" with a 63-yard run to kick things off in the second half and the drive ended with a touchdown to put K-State ahead 26-21. And of course, Baylor came right back to take the lead, making it look just as easy as always. But K-State came right back, that it until a late flag cost them a first down. (One of the latest flags for holding I've ever seen - he threw it after the play was over). The next play Klein threw a pick. A few plays later it was fourth-and-five and RG3 threw a bomb to the end zone for one of the most amazing touchdowns I've seen. (I'm channeling my inner Jon Gruden here with all these "best I've ever seen" phrases.) And then Baylor was up by 9 (two scores) and looking as if they would never be stopped, despite the K-State defense's best efforts. On top of that it was the fourth quarter and the cats hadn't scored since the beginning of the half. I was convinced it was over. I'm so glad I was wrong. K-State put together a wonderfully long touchdown drive that put them within two. Klein made horrible throw after horrible throw but hit Harper on a bit 3rd-and-10 and pushed forward for a first down on a 4th-and-inches. He scored the ever-important touchdown as well, and all of sudden there was hope if we could somehow get a stop.
Baylor for some reason got conservative and in came the conquering hero Arthur Brown. First of all, it was the incredibly improved Ray Kibble that hit RG3 on the play, forcing the bad throw that ended up in Brown's hands, RG3's first of the entire season. It truly was a team effort. The K-State offense was just as conservative, but was nonetheless close enough for Anthony Cantele to attempt a field goal, one that I couldn't watch. Amazingly enough, it went through, giving K-State a 36-35 lead and the fans at Snyder Family Stadium the greatest thing to cheer about since beating Texas in 2006. But it wasn't over yet. RG3 was about to come back out on the field, and if he was ever going to solidify himself as a Heisman candidate it would be right here. A few long passes to Wright, a run or two to run down the clock, and a field goal would truly write a another happy chapter in this already wonderful story. Instead, a happy chapter was written in K-State's story. A sack by Arthur Brown, an incompletion, a completed pass short of the first down, and Jordan Voelker's knockdown on fourth down gave K-State the win. As my dad said it, the first "special" win since the aforementioned Texas in 06.
So that was what happened. K-State turned the ball over, never really had momentum (early or late) and only one huge play on offense. But they still won. They forced a couple critical turnovers, Cantele made 3/4 field goals, Klein made throws when he needed to, and not to be forgotten were great games by Hubert, Pease, and Harper. Teamwork, discipline, and hard work - Snyder's philosophies almost always pay off.
So now we are ranked. And going to be favored in a game against Missouri for perhaps the first time in a long time. I'm not sure I like that, as K-State has enjoyed playing the underdog for most of the season so far. Plus K-State hasn't beat MU since 2005, Snyder's last game in his first tenure. And just because the tigers are 2-2 does not mean they are a pushover. In the two games I've seen (the two losses, actually), their offense has looked pretty efficient. The qb James Franklin is an incredibly talented runner and has enough of an arm and quick enough receivers to make defenses respect the pass. And despite giving up 37points to Arizona State and 38 to Oklahoma, the defense is stout, especially the run defense. This all spells trouble for K-State. Even though K-State's run defense ranks in the top 10 in the country, the cats have yet to be tested by a good ground game. And if James Franklin can get hot through the air, that will make defending the run even more difficult. On offense K-State may have trouble if the MU run defense gives Klein and Hubert problems. Klein has to be more accurate through the air, which may be helped if the coaching staff calls more screens and short throws. Open up the playbook a little, don't let Franklin get hot through the air, and score touchdowns not field goals (as they did too often in the Baylor game). Those are my three keys this week. I was 3/3 against Miami and 0/3 against Baylor but K-State won both. So I'm not sure I put much stock in them. But as long as K-State wins I could care less.