Longhorns knock off Wildcats

Kansas State was handed a dose of humble pie by the Longhorns this evening.  Texas out coached and outplayed Kansas State in the first half.  The Wildcat’s continued mistakes caught up with them in the second half.  The Wildcats could have and should have defeated the Longhorns.  This loss will either haunt them the rest of the season or motivate them to never overlook an opponent again.


First Half Recap

The Wildcats defense suffered an immediate loss when corner back Julius Brents was disqualified on the 2nd play of the game for targeting.  Though the defense gave up an opening touchdown drive, Adrian Martinez marched the team down the field to even the score at seven a piece.  It looked like the game could be another Big 12 high scoring affair as Texas drove the ball right down the Wildcats throat for their second touchdown.  Kansas State started punching right back but had to settle for a field goal at the end of their second offensive possession.  The Wildcats defense failed to solve the Longhorns offense and allowed a third touchdown.  However, the Texas defense started figuring out Martinez and forced a three and out, largely because they sacked Martinez for a 10-yard loss on second down.

The Wildcats finally found a way to stop the Longhorns defense as they forced a fumble on a fourth and 1.  Roschon Johnson had already gained 37 yards however cornerback Ekow Boye-Doe punched the ball out from behind and Jacob Parrish jumped on it.  On a third and six, Martinez connected with Malik Knowles for a 62-yard gain.  Kansas State pushed into the red-zone as far as the 16-yard line.  Instead of kicking the field goal, Coach Klieman opted to go for it on 4th and two.  The play call is puzzling because the routes were called for the end-zone instead of just finding a first down.  Needless to say, the Wildcats failed to convert, as Martinez overthrew his receiver in the end-zone.  If the Wildcats have at least two outlet receivers for a first down perhaps the night would have turned out better for the Wildcats.

Texas drove the field once again but had to settle for a field goal as the Wildcats defense stiffened.  With the score 24 to 10 in favor of the Longhorns, the Wildcats only had 1:35 left to attempt to get points.  Adrian Martinez threw his first interception of the year on the second play of the drive.  Kansas State lost the game at the point because Texas had the ball on KSU’s 33-yard line and promptly drove it into the end-zone for a 31-10 lead.


First Half Analysis

By the time half time had hit, Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson had collected 161 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.  Coach Klieman’s fourth and 2 gamble on the Longhorns 16-yard line didn’t pay off and the Wildcats lost an opportunity for points.  As I watched the game, I couldn’t help but wonder why Will Howard didn’t start the game.  His play is much different than Martinez.  Howard isn’t the runner that Martinez is.  However, Howard is much better in the passing game.  Martinez fails to make anticipatory throws.  He routinely finds his targets late in the down.  Howard is an anticipatory thrower.  He throws early in the down before the play seemingly breaks down.  Howard trusts his targets will get open or he throws them open.  At this point in the game, I felt the coaching staff made a grave mistake in putting Martinez in the game.

Texas running back Bijan Robinson (5) breaks a tackle attempt by Kansas State safety Drake Cheatum (21) on the way to a touchdown during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

Second Half Recap

During the 3rd quarter, the Wildcats finally came alive when defensive lineman Eli Huggins recovered a fumble on the Texas 18-yard line.  Huggins really set the tone for the defense in the 2nd half with his consistent pressure on the Longhorns offensive line.  Adrian Martinez found Deuce Vaughn for 21 yards and three plays later Martinez punches it in for a touchdown.   Kansas State forced Texas to punt on their next possession, but the Wildcat offense could not move the ball.  Once again Kansas State forced Texas to punt and this time Martinez found Kade Warner for a 25-yard touchdown.  Warner’s route was perfect post to the center of the end-zone.  The Wildcats were suddenly back in the game down only a touchdown to the Longhorns.

Texas drove the ball down the field and had to settle for a field goal.  There was 10 minutes left in the game and Kansas State was down ten points.  The Wildcats drove to the Texas eight-yard line and could not find a way into the end-zone.  Once again, the Wildcats had to settle for a field goal.  During this drive Martinez made several plays with his legs however they couldn’t find a way to get six.  The Wildcat’s defense was invigorated and forced a three and out, cap stoning their effort by tackling Bijan Robinson for a 5-yard loss on a third and four.

Kansas State had 2:56 on the clock.  Down seven they had an opportunity to force the game into overtime.  Coach Klein knows how to play the clock at the end of the game.  However, Adrian Martinez found a way to fumble not once but twice during this drive.   The first fumble was recovered by him.  However, the second fumble was captured by a Longhorn, Jaylon Horn, thus ending the game and the Wildcat’s stature as alone in 2nd place in the Big 12.


The Reasons for the Loss…

There are several reasons for the Wildcats loss.  First, they were thoroughly out coached and out played in the first half.  Second, they committed nine penalties for 85 yards.  The Wildcats defense committed several penalties allowing the Longhorns offense to stay alive enough to continue drives and ultimately score points.  Third, losses of critical players in the game effected the outcome.  Losing one of the best corners in the Big 12, two plays into the game, caused the Wildcat defense to scramble.  Brents is a game changing player and I believe he would have kept Worthy in check.  Then, late in the third, Malik Knowles went down with a lower leg injury.  He did not return to the game.  The fourth reason is Coach Klieman’s fourth and 2 gamble, late in the first half.  It was a poor play call, and the execution was worse.

Fifth, I believe the Wildcats started the wrong quarterback.  Adrian Martinez fumbled the ball three times, losing the last fumble at the most critical time in the game.  He also threw an interception at a critical point late in the 2nd quarter when the Wildcats were driving for much needed points.  Pure and simple Howard is just a better thrower of the ball.  He anticipates better. His release is faster.  The receivers seem to respond better to Howard than Martinez.  Though Martinez threw for over 329 yards, he lacked ball security and committed too many turnovers.  Martinez’s play was good enough to beat most of the teams in the Big 12.  He simply wasn’t the right choice to play against Texas.  I question the wisdom of starting him against a talented Texas team when Howard was the hot hand.

The last reason for the loss is Bijan Robinson.  He is one of the best running backs in college football.  He will be playing on Sundays.  209 yards on 30 rushes led his team to victory.  Quinn Ewers had several key throws thru out the game as well.  Credit Steve Sarkisian for his play calling.  He knows that his quarterback compliments Robinson’s play and he knows how to use the young gun’s gifts to maximize his offense.

Texas running back Bijan Robinson (5) escapes a tackle by Kansas State safety Kobe Savage (2) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)

The Situation

Kansas State is now in a 3-way tie for second place in the conference with Baylor and Texas.  Kansas and Oklahoma State both have three conference losses even though they share the same record as KSU, Baylor and Texas.  Kansas State travels to Waco next week.  Baylor is talented and well coached.  The Bears have only lost one game at home and that was to Oklahoma State.   Kansas State needs Malik Knowles to be ready for next week.  They also need to ensure that they are mentally ready to play.  Film study is going to be tough but vital.  They need short memories and a hardened attitude to go into Waco and come away with a victory.  The Wildcats can still make the Big 12 Championship.  All they need to do is win their last three games.

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