A friend and I debated Kansas State’s hot start. I said earlier in the week that the close, come-from-behind wins over Miami and Baylor gave Kansas State confidence, and momentum heading into Saturday’s showdown with Missouri. He said the law of averages will pan out, and Kansas State will lose. Unfortunately, I was right.
Another game, another time I ask myself, “how did Kansas State win that game?”
I guess its time to stop asking the question, and just accept it.
Bill Snyder is the man. Somehow, someway, the Cats, now undefeated at 5-0 after a 24-17 win over visiting Missouri, win games with less talent — they have now done it three times this year — and win it ugly. I don’t know how the hell they are 5-0, but they are.
I guess its time some credit is given when credit is due. Kansas State is 5-0 after a 24-17 win over visiting Missouri, giving head coach Bill Snyder a win on his 72nd birthday and winning for the first time in six years in the series.
Maybe this team is for real? Maybe Missouri isn’t as good as we thought. There were things you could take away from the Arizona State and Oklahoma road losses and feel good about I don’t know what any Missouri fan feels good about right now.
And I don’t know where to start in dissecting this game. Did Kansas State play well? Did Missouri play bad? Is it a little bit of both, or did Kansas State make Missouri play bad?
First lets look at the Missouri. They turned the ball over on the first play of the game (sophomore James Franklin INT), made four trips inside the Kansas State 30-yard line and came away with three points before two late touchdowns, the Big 12’s leading rusher Henry Josey didn’t get a touch until the second quarter and CRUCIAL, CRUCIAL penalties. SOME of this has nothing to do with Kansas State.
What about Kansas State (5-0, 2-0 Big 12)? I said before the game they could win if they were able to not have to pass, control the clock and get a crucial turnover. They did all three. They did what they do best. Shorten the game, make the other team play bad, play a boring game offensively, limit bad plays offensively and big plays defensively and control the line of scrimmage.
Its not very often that a roughing the punter penalty in the third quarter is a play that sticks out as a difference-maker, but I think this was the case today. Missouri somewhat had the momentum. Their last four drives went deep into Kansas State territory, Kansas State’s last four drives consisted of three punts and one interception and was facing a 4th and 12 after a Terrell Resonno sack. Then Darvin Ruise roughed punter Ryan Doerr. 15-yards and an automatic first down. It changed the whole game. Six plays later, it was 17-3 when Klein scored his second touchdown on a 3-yard run…a scoring drive when Kansas State didn’t attempt a pass, which is exactly what Kansas State wants to do.
After another punt, Kansas State drove down the field and poor tackling — as Missouri was going for the big hit — aided the Cats. Sophomore running back John Hubert, who finished with 126 yards on 26 carries, rumbled for 17 yards on a third down after bouncing off two tacklers in the backfield. Klein did the same for a third down conversion, then later plowed in from one-yard out to make it 24-3 with 11:23 remaining in the game.
Missouri adds to late touchdowns to make it a game, and had a chance to get a stop, but gives up two first downs. On the second, Kansas State faced a 3rd and 11 and ran for nine yards, but an illegal hands to the face personal foul with just under two minutes left gave Kansas State the first down and a few kneel downs and it was all over. Missouri was out of their missery. What a depressing loss. I guess the penalty probably wouldn’t have mattered. Klein would have ran for the first down on fourth down anyway. When the Cats needed to grind out some first downs, they did.
Its hard to say what-if, but when Franklin scored on a 1-yard touchdown with 5:02 left, if Grant Ressel made his two makeable field goals he missed — a 43-yarder to end the first half and a 37-yarder after Kip Edwards picked off Klein at the 36-yard line — the Tigers (2-3, 0-2) could have been within a two-point conversion from tying the game. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.
Missouri no longer has a kicker they can rely on. Grant Ressel missed three career field goals entering his senior season. He has now missed six already this year. That was two of the three times Missouri entered the 30-yard line of Kansas State and didn’t score. The other could have resulted in a field goal attempt from 52 yards away, but Pinkel’s confidence in Ressel is low, and rightfully so. Down 10-3, Kendial Lawrence gained 25 yards rushing in two carries, then ran backwards for eight yards, taking Missouri out of the redzone. Lawrence finished with five yards in six carries, having four negative gains after his 2-25 start.
Down 10-3, Missouri made three trips deep into Kansas State territory and did not score. Unacceptable.
All-American tight end Michael Egnew had just eight catches in four games and Missouri wanted to make more of an effort to get him the ball. Franklin threw into double-coverage on the fist play of the game, resulting in a Ty Zimmerman interception return to the 21-yard line, setting up K-State with a short field and a quick 7-0 lead when Klein scored his first of three rushing touchdowns.
Egnew did have his best game with eight catches for 73 yards.
On Kansas State’s scoring drive, Missouri jumped offside on a third and two, and Kansas State scored three plays later. Missouri goes three and out on their next drive, including a bad sack taken by Franklin, when he was untouched, tripping over right tackle Dan Hoch. Kansas State got a short field, and kicked a 20-yard field goal from Anthony Cantele to make it 10-0. A perfect start for Kansas State, a worst-case scenario for Missouri. Two drives, -9 yards, for Missouri. Two drives, short field and 10 points for Kansas State.
By the end of the first quarter, Missouri had exactly 0 yards offense (20 passing, -20 rushing), three 3-and-outs and the Big 12’s leading rusher Henry Josey, who was also averaging 12.4 yards per carry, had 0 touches.
By time Josey touched the ball, he went for 20 yards, then 7, then 7. 34 yards in 3 carries. GIVE HIM THE DAMN BALL! Coincidently, Missouri gave the ball to Josey and he lead them on a drive into Kansas State’s redzone, finishing with a 32-yard Ressel field goal. Josey finished with 55 yards on 12 carries and score Missouri’s first TD with 11:23 left in the game, cutting the score to 24-10. Why is he not getting the ball 20-22 times? He has not touched the ball more than 14 times in a game, EVER. Some rumors are swirling that he is hurt (hamstring).
Missouri’s two scoring drives in the fourth quarter didn’t come without controversy as the booth was busy with some reviews.
First, it was determined that wide receiver Jerrell Jackson was in bounds when he caught an 18-yard pass from the MU 45 early in the fourth quarter after initially being ruled incomplete. That got the Tigers across midfield, and they kept driving until they reached the 13-yard line and were faced with fourth-and-4. Thats when Franklin hit wide receiver T.J. Moe with a 6-yard pass, but before the whistle blew, Tysyn Hartman separated him from the ball, and Kansas State recovered. But a second look upstairs showed that Moe’s knee was down when he caught the pass Josey scored four plays later on a fourth and two plunge. Missouri was spared another apparent turnover on its next possession when an Egnew catch and fumble at the 29-yard line was overturned as replays indicated that his elbow was barely on the ground before the fumble.
Franklin plunged in three plays later from the 1-yard line, after a 19-yard pass to the 1/2 yard line to Egnew. The play was originally ruled a TD.
Colin Klein finished 11-of-16 passing for 112 yards and no pass was bigger than a roll out on 3rd and four to his right and somehow managed to squeeze the ball over a defender into tight end Anthony McDonald’s arm for an one-handed catch down the sideline for 18 yards with the inside of his elbow. Amazing play. Three plays later, Missouri’s hand to the face penalty gave K-State its first 5-0 start since 2000 and snapped a five-game losing streak to Missouri.
Klein was held to a season-low 45 rush yards on just 24 carries but did have the three touchdown’s.
Kansas State won the time of possession battle 38:30 minutes to 21:30, but only won two more plays than Missouri (70-68).
Pinkel and Missouri are off to their worst start since his first season in 2001, when Missouri finished 4-7.
Quarterback James Franklin: C-: If it weren’t for a couple late fourth quarter drives, Missouri would have had a dreadful offensive day. James Franklin was 9-for-21 for 103 after three quarters, but finished 19-35 for 214 yards and crucial interception. He was 10-14 in the fourth quarter. He added 11 rushes for 46 yards and a 1-yard touchdown run. The first time in his career Franklin did not throw a touchdown pass. How was Franklin able to have huge days at Arizona State and Oklahoma, but not against Kansas State? Franklin is 0-3 in road games so far in his career, but this was the only time he did not show up and perform. After the interception on the first play from scrimmage, Franklin and Missouri were chasing all day. A couple of observations this year: Franklin is at his best in an empty, 5-wide set. He seems to play his best when the game is on the line, in pressure situations. Franklin put a lot of the blame on himself and apologized to fans via social media, telling fans not to lose faith. Dont worry, James, you are not the reason Missouri loses games, but he didn’t look right at the beginning of the game, just standing in the pocket flat footed, not like his normal self. He also doing the Blaine Gabbert, rolling to his right instead of stepping up in the pocket.
Running Backs C: Its kinda hard to judge the Missouri running backs. They had just 18 carries. Josey, the Big 12’s leading rusher and national leader in yards per carry (12.4), didn’t have his first touch until the second quarter, when he ripped off three straight runs for 34 yards, but had just 21 yards in nine carries the rest of the game. Kendial Lawrence, who was playing for the first time since fracturing his leg in the season-opener against Miami (OH), opened the game with 25 yards in two carries, then lost 20 yards in his next four carries. Pitiful. Why is the coaching staff putting everything on Franklin’s shoulders when Josey is by far their best offensive threat? Let me know when you find the answer.
Wide Receivers: C: All-American tight end Michael Egnew, who entered the game with just eight catches for 97 yards, hauled in eight for 73. It was good to see him get involved again. He has been invisible all season. It was good to have him back. TJ Moe dropped a couple of passes and where was Marcus Lucas and L’Damian Washington? The two big-play WR’s were no were to be seen. You mean to tell me these two guys can’t help the passing game? Jerrel Jackson had some great plays down the sideline. Franklin continues to do well throwing the ball downfield.
Defense: B-: Missouri’s defense allowed just 286 yards. If you told me they would allow 286 yards, I would predict a Mizzou win. Mizzou’s defense was presented with a lose-lose situation with two short fields right off the bat. 10-0. Then they got four straight stops (one via turnover) and should of had a fifth before the roughing the punter. Then the game turned south. The game was on the defense’s shoulders late in the game, and K-State ran out the clock over the final 5-plus minutes. Missouri’s defense played undisciplined and penalties killed their chance at stopping Kansas State after the interception, and again on the final offensive drive for Kansas State. Penalties were killer.
Special Teams: D: The only reason this isn’t a F is because Grant Ressel made one field goal, a 32-yarder early in the second quarter. Maybe this was the kick that got Ressel out of his slump? Wrong. Ressel missed his next two kicks, and a 37-yarder in the third quarter was only the second time he had missed a kick inside 40 yards in his career. Ressel entered the season 43-46, but has missed six this season.
“I feel bad for him,” Coach Gary Pinkel said. “Obviously, we’ve got an issue, a problem there. But there’s a lot of plays in that game. Shoot, there’s plays all over that game.”
Ressel is scared to kick. Watch him on the sideline. Look at the look on his face. He is scared to death to come in and kick. Its about time Missouri considers going for it on fourth down.
Punter Trey Barrow continues to be great. He averaged 47.6 yards on five punts, including a 67 yard boomer, but kicked two into the endzone, including one after from the 35-yard line, a net of just 15 yards after the touchback. Missouri continues to struggle in the return game. I’m not sure TJ Moe is the best bet as a kick returner.
Ninety-percent of what happens on the field has nothing to do with coaching. The players have to perform. But Pinkel said before the game that his players didn’t practice and prepare well for the game. Thats on coaching. The coaches decided to put the game on James Franklin and not give the ball to Henry Josey. Thats also on coaching, most notably OC Dave Yost. After the game was over Pinkel said his team did not look like a well-coached team. Again, thats on the coaching. Pinkel added that Missouri “has issues.”
Its possible that Missouri misses out on a bowl now. They have seven games left: 4 at home (Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech), two road games (Texas A&M, Baylor) and a game in KC (Kansas). Will Missouri get bowl eligible?
Quarterback: Colin Klein B+: I don’t have too much to criticize here. When he had to
pass the ball, he got the job done. Only knock is when he had a chance at a deep ball, he missed his receivers. Also ran for a season-low 45 yards in 24 carries, but scored all three Wildcat touchdowns. Again, Klein gets the job done. He also made an incredible pass on third down and three to clinch the game, rolling out to his right, throwing just over a defender into the arm, and when I say arm, I mean the inside of his elbow. Klein doesn’t make mistakes and gets the job done. He drives the Kansas State offense.
Running Backs: B+: If it weren’t for John Hubert’s seven carries for nine yards in the first half. Hubert gets an A. He definitely gets one in the second half, where he ran for 119 yards on 19 carries.
Wide Recievers: C: Its so hard to grade Kansas State’s receivers. Tight end Anthony Mcdonald’s 18-yard catch late in the fourth quarter was crucial. Leading receiver Chris Harper caught two passes for 37 yards and Broderick Smith led the team with four catches, but for 29 yards. When needed, plays were made.
Offensive Line: B: The line controlled the line of scrimmage. The Cats were below season-averages in rush yards and total yards, but got the job done, again, when the game was on the line. They did not dominate the line of scrimmage, but they controlled it, and when it needed to, the Cats o-line pushed the Tigers d-line way off the ball.
Defense: A-: Kansas State held a team that was 11th nationally in total offense, had gained 532 yards against Oklahoma and was averaging 250 yards rushing and passing per game, to just 326 yards. Enough said. Also held the Big 12’s leading rusher, and national leader in yards per carry (12.4) Henry Josey to 55 yards (albeit it on just 12 carries).
Coaching: A: Bill Snyder does it again. Three games in a row as underdogs, beating teams with a lot more talent. Even at age 72, the old man is still a wizard. He coached circles around Gary Pinkel. A friend tells me, “Snyder is 10 times the better coach than Pinkel. K-State would be below .500 with Pinkel and Missouri would be 4-1 with Snyder…Missouri would have Big 12 championships with Snyder.” Maybe he is right. I’ll take him any day, even if watching his offense puts me to sleep…Maybe its his good luck jacket, which he wears if its 25 and snowing, or if its 90.
Final Thoughts: Before the season, everyone figured KSU had to beat either MU or Baylor to be bowl-eligible for this season. Everyone also thought Miami would be a loss. Now the question is, how good can Kansas State be this year?