FROM THE STANDS
WITH TREY McLEAN – www.coopgameday.com
|TEXAS VS. KANSAS STATE|
|First things first- that was a damn good football team that beat Texas Saturday night. The Baylor Bears didn’t play their best but they played well enough to go on the road and beat a desperate team in a place they haven’t won since the early 90’s and beat a team they haven’t beaten since this Baylor senior class was in the fourth grade. Well done and I will be rooting for you from here on out.
The Texas Longhorns, a top 10 team six weeks ago, are now a .500 team that must work very hard to get to the post-season with four games remaining. Watching this team play in that six-week span you can’t assume anything is a victory anymore. Texas could certainly reel off four wins and get to a nice bowl, or they could pack it in and get this derailed season over with. What will it be, fellas?
The 10-win streak is over. The Big 12 Title defense is over. Now it’s about pride in your teammates, pride in the logo on your helmet and pride in yourselves.
How are we going to finish?
This week will say a lot about how that goes and I have thoughts on that. Let’s get to it.
No. 24 BAYLOR 30 TEXAS 22
So many mistakes. I don’t know where to start. There were penalties (11 for 103 yards) and Texas had a 19-10 lead, yet it couldn’t hold on. I’m out of ways to say how much this team disappoints. Let’s get this over with. Here’s what I saw on Saturday:
Offensive Line: Not terrible, to steal a phrase others used to talk about their performance. I thought Garrett Gilbert had time to throw the ball and they allowed only one sack. I saw holes for the backs to run through; however, this defense was not very good and they couldn’t take advantage. Kyle Hix, a senior gets yet another terrible false start that ruined a drive. How many times do the same guys get to make mistakes? Come on.
Michael Huey has a potentially serious knee injury and could be done, meaning Thomas Ashcraft will see more time.
When “not terrible” is the best thing you can say, that isn’t saying much.
Five field goals is unacceptable.
Running Backs: Jay Finley, who coming into this game was a guy I thought was a solid, average Big 12 running back, was the best back on the field by a mile.
DJ Monroe quadrupled his carries-per-game output with four, but only one was for anything worth mentioning.
Outside of a Monroe sighting, there was nothing from the running back unit that is worth talking about.
Wide Out: A fumble that ended the final drive, drops all over the place and a talented unit getting shut down when it mattered most. Another bad day from the wide outs.
I don’t want to see any more passes to any tight ends this year. The two passes of note Saturday night went like this: a drop for a touchdown and a drop that resulted in the game-changing interception that Baylor took down inside the 15 and scored on a few plays later.
Defensive Line: I thought they did an excellent job of limiting Griffin and not allowing him to scramble for big yards, and the main man was SAcho. He had 10 tackles and a sack and forced a pair of fumbles. Outside of him, not a great night. Far too many times on 3rd & Long I saw Robert Griffin with ample time to pass and no pressure from Texas. At all. The middle of the defense continues to be a problem against the run…
Linebackers: … And just like last week it was because the linebacker play was not very good. I saw the same things this week that I saw last week as the lb’s were caught out of position or were unable to get off blocks in the zone read. They got caught up in the wrong gap, or walled off, or simply got beat outside far too often once again when Baylor was running the ball. I said last week they would be okay with Finley running as long as the limited Griffin because I thought if they limited Griffin it would slow the offense down. I was wrong.
I think these are the leaders of the team, but they aren’t doing it with their play right now. You have to get that fumble, Keenan Robinson. You can’t let that get away.
Secondary: Missed tackles and blown coverages were the story of the day. Baylor had a touchdown pass go for 59 yards before the half and 69-yard run on a one-play drive in the third and in both cases there was no one around.
How does Baylor’s best wide out get matched up with a safety twice in four plays in the final Baylor touchdown drive? Christian Scott was beaten inside on a 3rd & 10 play by Kendall Wright, and then beaten again three plays later on a 30-yard touchdown pass. How is it that this team with NFL corners doesn’t have one of them on the best wide out for the offense?
It was a tough series for Scott, who played his best game, looking more comfortable and getting his first career interception.
I expected more from this unit.
Special Teams: Justin Tucker had five field goals and was the Player of the Game for Texas.
I think Texas should not put anyone back on punt returns. Ever.
Curtis Brown owes the reviewing official a fruit basket for whatever he saw that took an obvious safety off the board for Baylor. How does he get the chance to mess another one? And then throwing his helmet for a 15-yard penalty.
If I was a coach he’d not see the field this week for me. Unacceptable behavior, but then again why was he still out there?
TEXAS (4-4/2-3) @ KANSAS STATE (5-3/2-3)
Okay, we’ve been down this road before. This team, despite their record, isn’t very good. I know they are 5-3 and a win away from a bowl game, but the numbers don’t lie: they rank 120th in rush defense (228.50 ypg), 104th in total defense (438.63 ypg) and 66th in scoring defense (25.63 ppg). The best defensive stat they have is pass efficiency defense at 120.41, which is 47th nationally. If the best thing you do on defense is ranked 47th then you aren’t doing anything very well. Offensively they are 89th in passing offense (180.25 ypg), 63rd in total offense (374 ypg) and 79th in sacks allowed (2.25 per game). The one thing they do very well is run the ball, averaging 193.75 yards per game on the ground. Can they string together enough defense to limit the Horns and throw the ball well enough to keep the Texas defense honest and load up to defend the run? Can they win? Of course they can. Will they? Let’s find out.
This is a one man show for The Purple. Running back Daniel Thomas is that one man. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound senior a bulldozer that can just as easily run around a defense as over it. So far on the season he has 996 yards rushing, a 5.1 yards-per-carry average and 10 touchdowns. That means he’s averaging 124.5 yards per game. I’ve heard at times this week in practice he has lined up in the wildcat formation and has thrown the ball some. He is a terrific athlete and a big, bruising runner that will be making a lot of money next year in the NFL. He must be successful and productive if K-State is going to win this game. If he isn’t they will not be.
And that is because they rest of the offense is fairly non-existent. Quarterback Carson Coffman (brother of former Mizzou tight end Chase) is completing 66% of his passes, but only averages 164 yards per game. He has eight touchdowns and six interceptions, so he isn’t beating anyone with his arm consistently. The wide outs are small and quick and like to run short routes over the middle and bubble screens… That sounds familiar? Anyway, they just don’t pass much because when things are clicking with Thomas they don’t have to pass.
The offensive line is solid and are good run blockers, obviously. They are big and strong and struggle in pass protection, evidenced by the high sack total. If they aren’t paving the road for Thomas and keeping the ground game going, this is going to be a very long night for K-State.
I expect they will attack with some zone read and make Texas prove they can stop Thomas consistently. The middle of the Texas defense has been an issue in defending the run and the linebackers have made mistakes. K-State has seen that and will make Texas show them it’s been fixed or it will be a problem again. They will play-action their tight end, 6-foot-3, 249-pound Travis Tannahill if Texas focuses too much on the run and cross those smallish, quick wide outs over the middle and see if Texas can keep up. They will roll Coffman out and give him a run/pass option to avoid the pass rush and help their o-line in protection and make Texas tackle in the open field. They want to get Thomas going and get Texas committing everyone to stopping the run, and they will use Coffman as a running threat to help open that door like Iowa State and UCLA did.
I’ll be blunt since we are all friends, right? This is a terrible defense. I’m sure they are all nice people and super duper guys, but they just aren’t any good. They don’t get to the quarterback well, they don’t make hardly any plays behind the line of scrimmage (112th nationally in tackles for loss) and they are, I believe, the absolute worst rush defense in all of college football. That means that schools like Kent, Western Kentucky, Washington State, etc… all have better rush defenses than K-State.
They have big, strong guys that look the part and can make some plays, but as a unit they are awful.
I expect them to throw the entire house at Texas. They will blitz from everywhere and they will sell out to get to Garrett Gilbert and short circuit anything Texas wants to do offensively. Can they do it? Yes. They did it to Oklahoma State last week for most of the game, so they are capable, but they are just as likely to get torched as well.
As with all Bill Snyder teams, they are excellent on special teams. They lead the nation in kickoff returns, averaging 28 yards per, and are 11th nationally in punting with a 39.95-yard net. Punter Ryan Doerr averages 42.2 yards-per-punt and has nine of his 36 punts downed inside the 20. He also has six of 50 yards or more. Kicker Anthony Cantele has 12 touchbacks on 47 kickoffs and the coverage limits the opposition to the 25-yard line on average. Cantele and Josh Cherry are a combined 6-7 on field goals and Cherry is perfect on extra points. They haven’t gotten a block but they haven’t given one up, either.
I say this all the time, but a big special teams play can ignite the crowd. I expect an exotic attempt this week. Texas was lousy on that onside kick against Iowa State and K-State has seen that. Watch for something, maybe on the opening kickoff? It wouldn’t surprise me.
Again, let’s be frank, shall we? Listen Frank, this defense stinks. Yes, they had a nice game last week against Oklahoma State- for a while. They still gave up 300 yards passing and 100+ yards to one running back rushing and lost.
Texas needs to attack, attack and attack and attack until K-State is screaming uncle, and then attack some more.
I expect a lot of zone read with GG and the backs, whoever they might be this week, and play-action and passes off that formation to several young receivers that will get a shot now that a lot of the pressure is off this season. The tools are there for an offensive explosion. Texas has nothing to lose at this point offensively and I expect the dogs will be let loose. Let’s do it.
Call me crazy, but I see Texas racking up some big numbers and points on this defense.
Get after Thomas. He’s the key. He’s the one that makes it all happen. If Texas can shut him down then I don’t see much K-State can do. Who wants this? Who is tired of yahoos like me talking about how the defense is underperforming? I saw some serious fire from Will Muschamp in the Baylor post-game when he said his guys were “…Fighting their butts off…” before he ended the conference and left. Let’s see if that carries over to the team this week.
No more missed tackles. Thomas is a big guy that can bring the lumber, so he will we need to be wrapped up. Don’t let them extend drives by breaking tackles. Fundamental assignment football. Get your groove back, Stella.
If Texas limits Thomas, I don’t see what the K-State offense is going to do.
Texas absolutely must win this battle. A loss in the specials will probably mean another loss this season. The coverage must be tight as return man William Powell averages 33 yards per return and has taken one back 100 for a score. Expect a surprise. Know that it’s coming. It isn’t a surprise if you know that it’s coming, is it?
I know Curtis Brown had a rough week leading up to the game with some personal stuff last week (and I hope everyone is good now) but it wasn’t like he and Aaron Williams were rock-solid returning punts before the Baylor game, right? New guys are essential. Let the kids play and see what happens? It can’t be worse than it was last week.
Again, I may be overly optimistic but I see Texas making a big, gigantic special teams play this week.
So the goal last week was “Beat Baylor.” That didn’t happen. There were too many mistakes. The upside is I thought the effort was there, the passion was there, the pride was there. Sometimes you get beat and sometimes you play a team that is a little better than you are. That was the case last week. I know most of you don’t want to hear this, but right now Baylor is just a little bit better than Texas. Texas greatly aided them with dumb penalties and some of the same issues that have plagued this team all season, but the one thing I saw last week that I didn’t against Iowa State or UCLA was the fire and intensity and the desire. It seems like that’s back.
Now, the Horns must go on the road. That’s a good thing. Texas plays well on the road and the two best games of the season for the Horns were wins at Tech and Nebraska. Get out of town, away from the media and the concerned fans. Get somewhere where everyone is against you and the only friendly faces are the ones in the locker room. Mack Brown is the best road coach in the conference and this has all the makings of a Texas win to me. Texas pulls together, circling the wagons on the road and takes the first step towards righting this ship with a big win in Manhattan. They do it with the legs of GG and his connections with a new receiving corps and fiery, attacking defense that shuts down K-State’s run. And a big special teams play to break the game open.
Sounds easy, right? Right?
Last Week in the Big 12
COLORADO 10 No. 11 oklahoma 43
Did you know a Spanish expedition found a tribe of cannibals in the remote Indonesian jungle in 1995? Crazy.
KANSAS 16 IOWA STATE 28
Iowa State is a win away from bowl eligibility. Kansas is two wins away from being 0-8.
No. 8 MISSOURI 17 No.12 NEBRASKA 31
Big Red made a statement. All over Mizzou’s face. It was 24-0 before some fans even got to their seats and they coasted to a 31-17 win. The Tigers fought back, but it was far too little to late. Roy Helu had 307 yards rushing, an all-time Nebraska record, and it could have been more. Nebraska owns the Big 12 North.
No. 20 OKLAHOMA STATE 24 KANSAS STATE 14
Justin Blackmon was suspended for his DUI and it showed on the field as Ok-State struggled with K-State. The game was tied at 7 at half. Penalties offset the 298-yard day from quarterback Brandon Weeden and 143-yard day from Kendall Hunter, but the Cowboys pulled away late.
TEXAS TECH 27 TEXAS A&M 45
Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback and threw for a school record 449 yards and four touchdowns. It was a huge shot in the arm for the listing Aggies and now their offense is back where it was supposed to be all season. Now they get the sooners.
This Week in the Big 12
No. 22 BAYLOR (7-2/4-1) @ No.19 OKLAHOMA STATE (7-1/3-1) 11:30 am FSN
The game of the week in the Big 12. The winner is in control of their own destiny for the division title. I said THE WINNER OF THE BAYLOR/OKLAHOMA STATE GAME IS IN CONTROL OF THE BIG 12 SOUTH. IN NOVEMBER. Amazing. I think Baylor wins this. Why not?
COLORADO (3-4/0-3) @ KANSAS (2-6/0-4) 1 pm
There will be more people at the Starbucks by my house than at this game. And the Starbucks will be more interesting. Pumpkin spice lattés!
No. 9 NEBRASKA (7-1/3-1) @ IOWA STATE (5-4/3-2) 2:30 pm ABC
They aren’t getting their sixth win this week. Last year Iowa State went to Lincoln and shocked Nebraska. This year the Huskers are going to mop the floor with their face. Big Red is back on track for the Big 12 North title and they will roll.
No. 14 MISSOURI (7-1/3-1) @ TEXAS TECH (4-4/2-4) 7pm ABC
Oh, boy. I think Mizzou is going to be mad and ready to make someone pay. That someone will be Tech, who is listing badly right now. I see Tech getting up early and Mizzou winning it late.
No. 11 oklahoma (6-1/2-1) @ TEXAS A&M (5-3/2-2) 6 pm FSN
Reports are out there that the two big Indian tribes in Texas, the Karankawa and the Tonkawa, were cannibals as well. Crazy!