By now I’m guessing you all either saw the game or watched the Taylor Martinez highlight reel on Sportscenter this morning. It was an ugly night for the Kansas State football team, and a big party for Nebraska.
No need for a longer lead in than that. Let’s move on to the good, bad and interesting.
FIVE THINGS THAT WENT WELL
1. Josh Cherry booted two long field goals in a game that carried a lot of pressure for him. K-State’s kicker is from Nebraska, you see, and wanted to perform well in front of friends and family. He kicked field goals of 46 and 48 yards.
Afterward he was asked if he considered himself the Wildcats’ only bright spot of the night. He laughed, and gave credit to all his special teammates.
2. One of those teammates that played well was punter Ryan Doerr, who pinned Nebraska within its own 20-yard line three times.
3. William Powell was also fantastic on special teams. The senior running back took six kicks back for 186 yards, including a 52-yard sprint. Sorry to keep harping on special teams, but there wasn’t a whole lot else that was good.
Said Bill Snyder: “We didn’t run the ball very well. We didn’t throw it extremely well. We didn’t play defense against the run or the pass very well … We did pretty well in the kicking game. Everything else fell on its face.”
4. Chris Harper started his first game at K-State and came through with his first touchdown catch for the Wildcats. He took little satisfaction in the accomplishment, but it was still good to see. Coming into the game he had only made three catches for 37 yards. Maybe he can build off this as the season goes on.
5. Prizell Brown made one of the best defensive plays of the season against Martinez in the second quarter. The Huskers faced a third-and-six from their own 21, and Brown made sure their next play was a punt. He broke into the backfield, fought off a blocker with one hand and wrapped up Martinez with the other.
FIVE THINGS THAT WENT POORLY
1. K-State was not prepared to defend against Taylor Martinez. After watching the highlights of his 241 yards rushing and 128 yards passing, some of his long runs would have been difficult for any defense to stop. But others were extremely easy. No matter how fast Martinez is, he shouldn’t have been able to take a quarterback draw up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown run without being touched.
The amazing thing is, that might not have even be the Wildcats’ lowest moment. In the third quarter, Martinez lobbed the easiest 79-yard touchdown pass you will ever to see Kyler Reed.
He was so wide open across the middle that he had time to stop, come back to an underthrown pass and still outrun K-State’s safeties. Just another example of how out of position the Wildcats were all night.
2. Daniel Thomas was held to a season-low 63 yards on 22 carries. For the second week in a row he couldn’t get going. His outside chances at the Heisman Trophy are now completely dead. There is still time to get his season back on track, but he will need the help of a passing game. Nebraska proved that when a good defense keys in on him, he can be stopped.
3. K-State has to expand its playbook. The Wildcats went to Daniel Thomas 22 times on the ground, and nothing worked. They went to him eight times on short passes, and that didn’t work either.
One of the few times K-State got creative with its play calling was on its first drive, when the Wildcats faced a fourth-and-two just outside the red zone. Rather than attempt a field goal, K-State lined up in a spread formation with Thomas at wide receiver. Coffman faked an end around hand off to Brodrick Smith and tried to run to his right for a first down. Nebraska sniffed out the play with ease.
The Huskers were ready for everything K-State tried all night.
4. Brodrick Smith seriously injured his leg in the fourth quarter, and had to be carted off the field. From the press box it looked broken. Immediately after the game Snyder said he expected to be without one of his best wide receivers for a while. Later in the night, word out of the football offices was that Smith will be out for the remainder of the season.
5. Students across campus instituted a campaign throughout the week to keep red out of Manhattan, but their efforts didn’t work on gameday. Nebraska fans bought their way into every section of Snyder Family Stadium.
FIVE THINGS THAT WERE INTERESTING
1. The starting quarterback spot is once again up for grabs. After a brutal game — 91 yards passing, a touchdown and an interception — Carson Coffman will have to compete with Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur throughout the week to see the field against Kansas.
Fans have been asking for a change under center all season, and it is probably time Snyder gives someone else a look.
All three played against Nebraska. Klein rushed for 33 yards and threw for 16. Lamur passed for 28 and ran for 20.
2. Bo Pelini and Snyder don’t exactly have the best history. After K-State thumped Nebraska 38-9 in 2003, Pelini apparently forgot about all the lopsided wins his team had piled up through the years and accused Snyder of running up the score.
So it came as no surprise when Nebraska kept pushing in the fourth quarter despite owning a 38-6 lead.
3. Aside from a few signs that referred to the Huskers as a bunch of traitors, the hate directed toward Nebraska for leaving the Big 12 seemed relatively tame Thursday night. Perhaps the lopsided score had something to do with that, but clearly some of the rage affiliated with conference realignment has died down.
4. K-State players say the season isn’t over, and many of their goals are still within reach. But unlike the past few weeks, no one was talking about a Big 12 title after this one.
A solid bowl game appears to be the new priority.
“We really want to get to a bowl game this year,” Cherry said. “Playing like that, it’s not going to happen.”
5. How quickly can K-State bounce back from this blowout loss? Well, if recent history is any indicator it can do so pretty quickly.
When the Wildcats lost big 66-14 at Texas Tech last year they immediately went on a tear. They came back the next week and stomped Texas A&M 62-14. Then they beat Colorado 20-6, gave Oklahoma a tough fight in Norman and defeated Kansas 17-10.