KSU Blows 18 Point Lead

Kansas State had an opportunity to take control of the Big 12 at Fort Worth.  Coming off a bye we all expected Adrian Martinez and company to light up the score board.  We expected a shoot-out.  Instead, the unthinkable happened.  Somehow the Wildcats came off the bye fielding an injured, banged up Martinez.  He made it one possession.  He limped off the field with an obvious lower leg injury.


Will Howard Time

The young gun Will Howard came in and started lighting up the score board.  After TCU scored quickly on their first possession, Howard was given the keys to the Wildcat offense.   Howard promptly led the team down the field and scored in four plays, largely on the strength of his arm.  He connected with Phillip Brooks on a 28-yard play and then launches a touchdown strike to Kade Warner who made a tough contested catch as he crossed the into the end zone.

The Kansas State defense held TCU to a field goal on the Horned Frogs next possession.  This time Howard put together a longer ball control drive.  They mixed in some run plays however their passing attack is what was taking TCU off guard.  Howard and Malik Knowles connected for two explosive plays; a 25-yard gain and a 37 yard gain respectively.  The 37 yard play put the Wildcats on the one yard line.  It was a beautiful ball by Howard as he sailed it over the linebacker right into the hole in the zone where Knowles had just stopped.  Knowles then burned up the TCU defense to get to the goal line.  A few plays later and the Wildcats were up 14 to 10.

The Kansas State defense stood tall in the 2nd quarter and did not allow a point…until the last 25 seconds of the half.  Kansas State manufactured two more scoring drives in the 2nd quarter.  Each drive was extremely explosive requiring only four plays to score.


The Turning Point

When the Wildcats were up 28 to 10, the defense held TCU to a three and out.  We all thought that Kansas State would take this opportunity to put TCU away.  We all watched last week as TCU beat Oklahoma State in double overtime after overcoming a 17-point deficit.  An 18-point lead would not be enough for KSU to feel secure.  So, they promptly went three and out.  Kansas State play calling on this drive didn’t make sense.  Up until this point the Wildcats had scored on every possession.

Offensive Coordinator Collin Klein inexplicably called run plays on 2nd and 3rd downs.   This series of play calls is hard to understand when the hot hand is your quarterback.  Sure, Deuce Vaughn had a 47 yard run for a touchdown on the last possession but that didn’t mean that KSU had solved the TCU run defense problem.  They just happened to out leverage them on one particular play.  The hot hand was Howard’s arm and it had shocked the TCU defense.  However, TCU had game planned to stop Deuce…that much was clear over the course of the whole game.  Failing to execute a passing attack on KSU’s fifth possession cost them the game.  It could be said that perhaps Coach Klein hoped to eat some clock.  That is a laudable goal however it is much more important to score against a team like the Horned Frogs.


The Spiral

Kansas State continued to spiral from this ill-fated drive.  They allowed TCU to drive the length of the field in just under 4 minutes and score.  Kansas State’s lack of production on their last offensive possession becomes more frustrating when you consider TCU would be starting with the ball in the 2nd half, right after they scored late in the first half.   So, at the beginning of the 2nd half, TCU did as you might expect and drove the field, and scored, eating seven minutes and 43 seconds off the clock.  In a flash they turned a 28-10 deficit to 28 and to 24.

During Kansas State’s next drive, they stalled and failed to connect on a 44-yard field goal.  TCU answered the Wildcat’s failure with a quick strike touchdown.  Now the Wildcats were down 28 to 31 and they never recovered despite opportunities.

During Kansas State’s last drive, Howard was tackled hard on a run play.  He was forced to sit out the remainder of the third quarter.  In came in 3rd stringer, Jake Rubley, who promptly threw an interception.  TCU with good field position met stiff KSU defensive resistance and could not convert on a 4th and 1 on KSU’s 21 yard line.  Kansas State failed to capitalize on their defense’s hard work and promptly gave the ball back on their own 30 yard line when they failed to convert a 4th and 1.  TCU took advantage of their good fortune and scored their last touchdown of the game.


What led to the Loss?

Kansas State still had life.  They executed a great drive but were forced to kick a FG.  They missed again.  Ultimately, Martinez’s injury, Klein’s late 2nd quarter play calling, a failed 4th and 1 conversion on their on 30 yard line, and two interceptions lost this game for the Wildcats.  Further, the defense did not seem to adjust well to the TCU offense.  They ran a lot of cover two seemingly designed to stop Quentin Johnston, wide receiver.  Max Duggan, Horned Frogs quarterback, took a beating from the KSU front.  However he carved up the Wildcat cover two defense.  Worse, TCU figured out that Daniel Green was hurt.  Green is KSU’s best linebacker.  Without him, the rest of the linebackers seemed lost.  They routinely missed their run fits, and the safeties failed to come up on a consistent basis as the TCU run game gashed the Wildcats for 215 yards two touch downs.  Coach Klanderman failed to adjust at key points in the game, contributing to the loss.

Tonights game was winnable, even with a backup quarterback.  Howard is a great passer of the ball.  However, it was clear that Coach Klein didn’t have a lot of complex pass patterns in this week’s game plan.  Perhaps he should rethink that.



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