12:18 AM EST, December 3, 2013
NCAAF Team Report - Kansas - INSIDE SLANT
The season did not meet the expectations Kansas State established since Bill Snyder returned to coaching.
Outside the program, no one really figured the Wildcats would put forth much of a bid to defend the Big 12 championship they captured a year ago. Or even approach the double-digit win totals they managed each of the last two seasons. A preseason media poll picked Kansas State fifth.
Well, it did finish fifth. Still, the 7-5 finish, coupled with a 5-4 mark in league play, was unsettling, even after Kansas State thumped in-state rival Kansas, 31-10, to close the regular season.
"Finishing 7-5 is simply not good enough," said defensive end Ryan Mueller, the Big 12 leader with 11.5 sacks. "This program had been climbing and climbing. This year was different. We learned to roll with the punches, and now we look forward to going to a bowl game and treat it like a next game we've got to win."
By altering goals, the Wildcats can take some solace in their finish, but only because players did not compromise their values. A 2-4 start could have left the squad in tatters. As it was, the early defeats jeopardized any postseason plans. Yet Kansas State recovered by minimizing the turnovers that contributed to narrow defeats.
Still, the tendency to look back and wonder what could have happened had a few plays gone differently is only natural. Particularly since Kansas State never lost by more than 10 points and the collective margin in its five setbacks was 37 points.
"What is it you remember? Well, you remember the losses," Snyder said. "The biggest margin was 10 points and there wasn't a ballgame where we didn't have our chances. So that's a frustrating experience."
Even against Kansas, the Wildcats were disappointed to some extent because they left points on the field failing to convert some opportunities presented by the six turnovers they forced.
Still, the win was another step toward stability as the Wildcats won for the fifth time in six games. The win was also the fifth straight against their in-state rival, all under Snyder, who is 18-4 all-time against the Jayhawks.
"A lot of people kind of started doubting us, and it might have crossed our minds at one time," said junior wide receiver Tyler Lockett, "but we had to keep on fighting. We had seven more games left, and if we'd have given up, we wouldn't be going to a bowl game. The biggest thing was just trying to fight and figure out those things that are going wrong that were making us lose."
Kansas State is one of six Big 12 teams to qualify for bowl games.
BAYLOR (10-1, 7-1)
Game: Baylor 41, TCU 38. An interception by Terrell Burt off a deflection from Sam Holl sealed the tight win for Baylor after TCU drove to the Bears 23-yard line with 18 seconds left. The Bears had two chances to run out the clock, but failed to get first downs while clinging to their three-point margin. Baylor generated 201 yards in the first quarter, but just 169 yards on 50 snaps the remainder of the game. Still, it remains in the Big 12 title chase after QB Bryce Petty accounted for three touchdowns and the Bears returned two interceptions for touchdowns.
Takeaway: Although respect has come slowly for the Baylor defense, the four turnovers the Bears forced were critical to holding off TCU. The biggest takeaway, of course, was the late interception as Burt performed the proper tip-drill techniques to preserve the road win in front of a hushed crowd at TCU.
"That's the best feeling. I thought I was going to lose my voice, I was yelling so loud," said LB Eddie Lackey. "I wanted to break the silence, just as Baylor."
Under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, the former head coach at SMU, the Bears improved to 23-2 when forcing two or more turnovers. Among the four they accumulated against TCU, two were interceptions Lackey and Orion Stewart returned 54 and 82 yards, respectively, for touchdowns. Those scores came to end the first half and begin the second half.
Not all was ideal for the Baylor defense. One of its top standouts, S Ahmad Dixon, was ejected after getting flagged for targeting in the second half. Dixon's hit came on the Horned Frogs' Trevone Boykin, who was tested for a concussion but later returned for one play. The incident prompted a heated exchange between TCU coach Gary Patterson and Baylor's Art Briles after the game.
"That guy has been doing that for four years," said Patterson, who said Dixon was caught by TV cameras laughing about the blow. "The bottom line to it is, it wasn't funny."
Next: vs. Texas, Dec. 7.
IOWA STATE (3-9, 2-7)
Game: Iowa State 52, West Virginia 44 (3OT). The Cyclones rallied from a 24-point deficit behind a season-high 331 yards passing from QB Grant Rohach, a redshirt freshman who threw for four touchdowns and added a rushing TD. Four turnovers after halftime fueled the upset. Iowa State sent the game into overtime with a 19-yard TD pass from Rohach to Justin Coleman with one minute left. That pair again hooked up for the game-winner, a 25-yard strike in the third OT.
Takeaway: Eventually a stop had to be made to settle a matchup that would leave Iowa State tied with West Virginia and TCU for seventh place in the Big 12. The Mountaineers were faced with fourth-and-goal from the 5-yard line, needing a touchdown after the Cyclones began the third overtime with their 25-yard scoring strike.
Problems developed for Iowa State as they lined up to defend the last play. LB Jevohn Miller was on the wrong side of the field with LB Jeremiah George, who was supposed to be locked in one-on-one pass coverage. By being in the same area, however, both converged on a short pass, which both claimed to tip, causing a disruption in the Mountaineers' play.
Although the ball was caught by West Virginia's Daikiel Shorts, he was stopped at the 2-yard line, ending the triple-overtime thriller and turning Iowa State's improbable comeback into a second straight win to close a previously forgettable season. It marked the first time the Cyclones won their last two games since 2000, when they beat Colorado and Kansas before topping Pittsburgh in the Insight.com Bowl.
ISU coach Paul Rhoads, as usual, wore his emotions on his sleeves afterward.
"It was the players first and foremost, a group of young men that played, prepared, worked and never gave up on the season," Rhoads said. "A coaching staff that's been knocked around, been beat up, partially by me, kept preparing and working to do the absolute best job they could. The message was that we were going to have to have the energy to provide the urgency to play the entire length of the game, whether we were up 10, down 10 or whatever it was."
Next: Season completed.
KANSAS (3-9, 1-8)
Game: Kansas State 31, Kansas 10. Six turnovers killed any opportunities the Jayhawks were afforded as they managed just 223 yards and sustained their fifth consecutive last-place finish. QB Montell Cozart was ineffective as the starter and replaced in the first quarter by Jake Heaps, who threw for 138 yards and a touchdown, but had three interceptions. RB James Sims carried 22 times for 82 yards, but the Jayhawks fell for the fifth straight time to the rival Wildcats, with all those defeats coinciding with Bill Snyder's return as Kansas State coach.
Takeaway: The struggles Kansas has undergone could make Sims go unnoticed as one of the program's top rushers.
In the Iowa State loss on Nov. 23, the senior became the first back at Kansas to enjoy back-to-back 100-yard seasons. Consider that the backfield lineage produced by the program includes the likes of two Hall of Fame backs, Gale Sayers and John Riggins.
"He's probably one of the better running backs to ever come through, and because the team hasn't won many games he'll be underappreciated," said Kansas coach Charlie Weis. "I feel bad for him."
Although the margin was tighter in the in-state series after the Jayhawks allowed the Wildcats 50 or more points in the previous three meetings, the outcome was never in doubt after Kansas State built a 21-0 lead 10 seconds into the second quarter.
Key stops were made defensively to prevent the Wildcats from capitalizing on all the turnovers, but the mistakes proved far too costly.
"When you turn it over 100 times, the chance you have to come back in a game like that just goes out the window," Weis said.
The losing record was the fifth in a row for the Jayhawks, who have won one Big 12 game in two seasons under Weis, who vowed to get out on the recruiting trail the day after the season-ending defeat.
Next: Season completed.
KANSAS STATE (7-5, 5-4)
Game: Kansas State 31, Kansas 10. Senior RB John Hubert rushed for a career-best 220 yards and Kansas State forced six turnovers, including two interceptions by S Dante Barnett, while guaranteeing a winning finish. QB Jake Waters added two touchdown passes, both after faking runs up the middle, to TE Zach Trujillo and FB Glenn Gronkowski. Waters also rushed for a touchdown while playing taking the vast majority of the snaps for the second straight game as backup QB Daniel Sams played just sparingly.
Takeaway: Giving up on the run game was not an option for Kansas State, though it was coming off a 24-yard performance in a loss to Oklahoma. That output yielded just a 1.1-yard average per carry, but Hubert got untracked after gaining just 17 yards against the Sooners.
The 100-yard outing was the third in five games for the senior, who admitted that the season had been something of a "roller coaster" ride as the Wildcats sometimes drifted away from the run game or used Sams as their primary rusher.
"It's all about the scheme we put in and what the defense is giving us," Hubert said. "It just came out with a chip on my shoulder. I was frustrated after the Oklahoma game because it was my last home game at K-State, and I didn't come out with a victory. I just wanted to come out and give it all I had."
With a bowl appearance, Hubert has a chance to finish with 3,000 career rushing yards, though he has yet to produce a 1,000-yard season. He ranks second all-time at Kansas State with 2,913 yards, trailing only Darren Sproles (4,979). Hubert has 968 yards this season after the third-year starter recorded 970 yards in 2011 and 947 in 2012.
"He reads holes pretty well and sometimes he gets caught dancing a bit," said Snyder, "but he got his pads down (against Kansas), he made people miss him and spun off blocks and ran hard."
Next: Bowl game TBA.
OKLAHOMA (9-2, 6-2)
Next: at Oklahoma State, Dec. 7.
OKLAHOMA STATE (10-1, 7-1)
Next: vs. Oklahoma, Dec. 7.
TCU (4-8, 2-7)
Game: Baylor 41, TCU 38. The Horned Frogs reached the Baylor 23-yard line in the closing seconds and were in position to boot a game-tying field goal, but QB Casey Pachall fired into the end zone and the pass was tipped, then intercepted, ending TCU's upset bid. Two additional Baylor interceptions were returned for touchdowns as the Frogs committed four turnovers. So ended TCU's second season in the Big 12. Their win total was its worst since going 1-10 in 1997.
Takeaway: Adjustments made defensively by TCU were good enough to hold the nation's most prolific offense to a season-low 370 yards, including 201 the Bears managed on 40 first-quarter snaps. The remainder of the game they called just 50 plays and were actually outgained by the Frogs.
"The bottom line is we should have beat them," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "That was our bowl game."
The move into a power conference is beginning to look like a difficult transition for Patterson and his squad, though the Frogs were young and lost four games by three or fewer points. They played with just 10 scholarship seniors, while injuries cut short Pachall's availability and abruptly ended the season for Devonte Fields, a defensive end who ranked among the nation's leaders in sacks last season.
An upset over Baylor could have provided some validation for the Frogs, so with 11 seconds remaining against the Bears, Pachall fired for WR Brandon Carter, but the ball was tipped near the goal-line, then intercepted.
"We could have kicked a field goal, but we thought we needed to take one shot to win it," Patterson said. "We wouldn't have wanted to do it any other way. The ball bounces off us, they pick it, game over. That pretty much sums it up. All the rest of it didn't matter. The kids fought their tails off."
Turnovers were too costly. Three contributed directly to 21 points for Baylor, which managed just 169 yards over the final three quarters and was stopped twice in the final period when a score could have put the game out of reach.
"I made quite a few mistakes that cost us the ballgame," said Pachall, a senior who was plagued by interceptions since returning from a broken arm. "I gave them 14 points, just handed it over on a platter. They weren't a better team than us. We kicked their ass on the field, there's no doubt about it. But my mistakes are what took us down at the end."
Next: Season concluded.
TEXAS (8-3, 7-1)
Game: Texas 41, Texas Tech 16. Malcolm Brown rushed for 128 yards and Joe Bergeron added 102 as the Longhorns churned out 281 yards on the ground. The victory enabled Texas to maintain its slim hopes for a Big 12 title. The Longhorns must win their last regular-season game at Baylor on Dec. 7 and also have Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State that day to win the Big 12. QB Case McCoy threw for two touchdowns.
Takeaway: Greg Robinson, the consultant Texas brought back into coaching following a loss in which BYU rushed for 500 yards, was good enough to resurrect the Longhorns defense. In addition, the veteran coordinator can still improvise too.
Against Texas Tech, an alignment was introduced that contained only three down linemen. Jackson Jeffcoat was moved from his end position into the middle as a linebacker and was in on three of the nine sacks the Longhorns registered.
"Sometimes, you're feeling it," Jeffcoat told the San Antonio Express-News. "It comes in bunches."
Eventually the Longhorns prompted Texas Tech to remove its starting quarterback, Baker Mayfield, after the freshman absorbed seven sacks and could not move the Red Raiders consistently through the air after they entered the game ranked first nationally in passing offense. Six Longhorns got in on sacks as DE Cedric Reed added two. Texas had 14 tackles for loss, including two by CB Duke Thomas.
"I don't know that I've ever been around a nine-sack game," Robinson said. "That's pretty good."
Particularly since the Texas offense was based largely on the ground, though WR Mike Davis did snag two touchdown receptions. The Longhorns allowed just one sack. On the season, they have 35 sacks and have allowed just 13.
Next: at Baylor, Dec. 7.
TEXAS TECH (7-5, 4-5)
Game: Texas 41, Texas Tech 16. After starting 7-0 under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury, the Red Raiders suffered a fifth consecutive defeat to end the regular season. QB Baker Mayfield was sacked seven times as the Red Raiders could not get going through the air after entering the game with the nation's top passing offense. One of Tech's few highlights was a 51-yard touchdown burst by Ryan Erxleben off a fake punt in the first quarter.
Takeaway: The fine line between failure and success was recognized by Kingsbury, who got off to a flying start in his first season as a head coach, but then saw his team crumble down the stretch.
"We played good teams," Kingsbury said. "We just have been making too many mistakes against good teams. We got away with it early on in the year against teams that weren't as good. Then five good teams in a row, we didn't play our best game. That's what happens."
Texas Tech was defeated by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas, the teams that comprise the top half of the Big 12 standings. Those opponents also illustrated the fine line teams tread when starting freshman quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield drew that honor against Texas, but was pummeled by the Longhorns' fierce rush and eventually replaced by sophomore Michael Brewer.
"It was tough," Kingsbury said. "They had a good front and we didn't hold up very well. They weren't bringing too many to pressure us. It was just our guys getting beat."
Texas Tech must await word on its bowl destination, though it figures to be headed to either the Texas Bowl or Holiday Bowl.
Next: Bowl game TBA.
WEST VIRGINIA (4-8, 2-7)
Game: Iowa State 52, West Virginia 44 (3OT). The Mountaineers failed to protect a second-half lead for the fourth time in six games and finished the season with six defeats in their last games. QB Clint Trickett completed 21 of 37 passes for 356 yards and two touchdowns, while RB Charles Sims added 149 yards rushing and two scores, though he was contained to 30 yards after halftime. Sims became West Virginia's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2009, finishing with 1,095 yards.
Takeaway: The third-smallest crowd (33,735) in the 34-year history of Milan Pusker Stadium left stunned again as the Mountaineers blew a 24-point lead, as well as a 17-point margin in the final 10 minutes. The 4-8 finish was the worst since 2001 (3-8), which was the last year West Virginia failed to post a winning record and play in a bowl game.
The Mountaineers also were extended into overtime by Big 12 rivals Texas and TCU, defeating only the Horned Frogs. Turnovers and defensive breakdowns enabled Iowa State to rally, but West Virginia was eventually hurt by its inability to execute on offense after gaining 22 yards on its first play of the third overtime. From there, the Mountaineers failed to score as Trickett's final pass was almost intercepted before WR Daikiel Shorts caught it but fell short of the goal-line.
"Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong," said LB Doug Rigg.
In regulation, an interception thrown by Trickett was converted in a 19-yard touchdown pass for the Cyclones' last score in regulation. WR Vernon Davis also lost a fumble and the Cyclones turned into a field goal. The Mountaineers were unable to make a 568-yard effort on offense, including a 7.7-yard average per play, hold up as the Cyclones countered with 575 yards.
"It was a disappointing end to a disappointing season," acknowledged Dana Holgorsen, who stands 21-17 in three seasons as West Virginia coach.
Next: Season completed.
NCAAF Team Report - Kansas - NOTES, QUOTES
--Baylor coach Art Briles was on the mind of each of his players after his brother, Eddie, died earlier in the week after sustaining a head injury from a fall in his bathroom. Players dedicated the TCU game to their coach and after a close win emotions spilled in the Bears' locker room.
"It was the emphasis of the week, to be sure," QB Bryce Petty said. "I don't say that lightly, because I don't want coach Briles to hear this and think he was a distraction, because that's the least thing he was. He's part of our family too. I can guarantee that everybody in the locker room loves him like their own dad."
Briles kept his emotions in check throughout the week, though he did fire his head set to the turf near the end of the game after a late interception sealed the 41-38 victory. Afterward, Briles did not mention's his brother's death, but instead credited his team for its fortitude after climbing to 10-1.
The Bears overcame 15 penalties for 140 yards, as well as a sluggish attack over the final three quarters.
"Y'll have to understand, coach Briles never shows anything. He doesn't show anything," said RB Lache Seastrunk. "When he's around us, I think it takes away the pain. You can never take away (the pain). When everything is said and done, you still lost a loved one. Before the game ever started, I said, 'Coach Briles, I know you lost somebody, but you gained 99 of us."
--Iowa State finally did not have to credit its punter for having a good game. Not when the Cyclones produced a whopping 575 yards and rallied from a 24-point deficit to win at West Virginia.
Still, Cyclones coach Paul Rhoads could not help himself. He knew that his All-America candidate, Kirby Van Der Kamp, was instrumental in the win. Not as a punter, but as a rusher who converted a fourth-and-17 call by executing a fourth-quarter fake. Of the six fakes the senior punter was asked to pull off in his career, each of them provided a first down.
"Kirby Van Der Kamp is a man," Rhoads said. "He's a man."
The Cyclones trailed by 17 points when Van Der Kamp picked up 21 yards to move the sticks.
"Our backs were against the wall there a little bit," Rhoads said.
The surprise carry by Van Der Kamp, however, sparked Iowa State and seemed to unsettle West Virginia. Van Der Kamp never punted again and finished with a 37-yard average, about five yards worse than his season average. Yet no one at ISU was really looking at that total, particularly after West Virginia returned just one of the punts for only one yard.
--Kansas State is so accustomed to piling on points against Kansas that the Wildcats forgot how to go through the formalities at times during a 31-10 victory. The 21-point margin was the closest in the series since 2009 (17-10), the year Bill Snyder came out of retirement and returned as the Wildcats coach.
The six turnovers Kansas State generated could have made the outcome far worse. Instead, the final score marked the first time in four years the Wildcats did not hang at least 50 points on in-state rival Kansas. Kansas State built a 21-point cushion just 10 seconds into the second period.
"We got a little complacent with our play," said WR Tramaine Thompson. "We had a couple of good drives and put the ball in the end zone and got a little complacent. We had a mistake on my part catching a punt inside the five and that backed us up. From then on it seemed like we didn't have the same intensity we had at the start of the game."
Snyder credited an improved Kansas defense for causing some of the Wildcats' problems, though the Kansas State coach was disappointed his team did not cash in on more opportunities. As it was, the outcome was never in doubt.
"We didn't play as well as we could have," said QB Jake Waters after throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another. "But in a rivalry game like this, you just have to take it."
--TCU coach Gary Patterson refused to go out quietly after a disappointing season in which the Frogs' string of eight consecutive bowl bids officially ended with a 41-38 loss to Baylor.
Patterson was particularly riled at Bears coach Art Briles. The TCU coach claimed Briles came across the field to yell at Patterson as officials discussed whether to eject Ahmad Dixon for targeting after the Baylor safety leveled the Frogs' Trevone Boykin. Boykin was tested for a concussion before later returning for one play.
"Here's the bottom line to it," Patterson said. "No. 6 (Dixon) beats a guy up at the beginning of the season and he didn't get suspended. He takes a shot today, and I want him kicked out. And the head coach comes across the field at me."
Dixon was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a September incident. After drawing the ejection against TCU, Dixon remained on the Baylor bench. Patterson was informed by his coaching staff that Dixon could be seen laughing on the sideline.
During their postgame handshake, the two coaches exchanged heated words. For Patterson, the incident could have been the boiling point to a frustrating season in which four of the Frogs' losses were by four points or less.
"He comes across the field at me? Nuh-uh," Patterson said. "I didn't build this program to back down to anybody, and I'm not going to do it to him. Not in recruiting or in anything we do."
--Texas devoted the Texas Tech matchup to seniors on the Longhorns roster, knowing full well that such sentiment had come up empty in recent seasons. The 41-16 romp marked the first farewell win at home for a senior class at Texas since 2009.
"We told them that's something you do, you owe your seniors," said Texas coach Mack Brown, who has expressed confidence that he'll return next season as the Longhorns coach. "Let's don't talk about next week. Let's don't talk about conference championship. Let's talk about getting these seniors to leave in the right way and understanding they're not through but this is important."
Seniors played into the victory too, namely QB Case McCoy. He threw a pair of touchdown passes while efficiently running an offense that gobbled up yardage, and time, with a bruising run game. McCoy was 10 of 19 through the air for 139 yards and added a rushing touchdown.
"At the same time that there's credit to the seniors," said McCoy. "You know seniors are going to go out and fight hard on their last night, you have got to give credit to the younger guys and just the way we won."
While WR Mike Davis caught both of the touchdowns thrown by McCoy, he finished with 112 yards on four grabs after WR Jaxson Shipley, a junior, connected on a halfback pass for 43 yards. That strike also set up another score.
"The offensive line is blocking good, so we're going to run the ball," said Davis, when told the Longhorns attempted 61 carries. "But we'll take our shots, and when we take our shots, we'll hit them."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's possibly the biggest win that we've experienced, one of the biggest, since we've been at Baylor. With this atmosphere (at TCU) and them having two weeks to prepare and us coming off the road again ? being on the road for three weeks in a row, I'm not sure that has happened to any other team in the United States this year. It's a big testament to our football team, our players, their resolve and their toughness, their character and their belief." -- Baylor coach Art Briles.
NCAAF Team Report - Kansas - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 14 IN THE BIG 12:
1. Baylor managed to make a key interception at the end to preserve a win at TCU, proving that the Bears can count on a defense that is vastly improved and stocked with experienced veterans. The close test kept the Bears in the hunt for the Big 12 title despite a sporadic offense.
2. Texas has the beef to control games at the line of scrimmage, both with a stout defensive line and blockers who can gain a good push to open the ground game. Success on the ground provides a comfort level for QB Case McCoy to choose his spots throwing the football.
3. Kansas State was disappointed with its final record, but not the way it finished. The Wildcats overturned a 2-4 start and won five of six down the stretch to qualify for a bowl. They continue to dominate Kansas, boosting Bill Snyder's record to 18-4 against the in-state rival.
4. Iowa State could have easily given up on the season after going winless through their first seven Big 12 games and lacking punch on offense. The Cyclones, however, closed with two straight wins, recovering from a 24-point deficit to beat West Virginia in triple-overtime.
5. Texas Tech lived with freshmen quarterbacks and through a 7-0 start it appeared first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury had the magic touch grooming his youngsters to execute. The Red Raiders collapsed, however, with five straight defeats and desperately need a bowl turnaround.
Copyright © 2013, Reuters