That’s the question I think is most up for debate today. The Wildcats defeated the Miami Hurricanes 28-24 at Sun Life Stadium and Saturday’s game certainly has to rank highly among recent wins for the program.
Beating Texas, UCLA and Central Florida were all nice wins last year, but they each came at home. A 62-14 thumping of Texas A&M was awfully impressive two seasons ago, but the Aggies were a different bunch back then. They aren’t comparable to a road win over Miami.
I think you’ve got to back to 2007, when K-State crushed Texas 41-21 in Austin under Ron Prince to find a more impressive victory. Under current coach Bill Snyder, this is probably the biggest win since the Wildcats took down top-ranked Oklahoma 35-7 in the 2003 Big 12 championship game.
Saturday’s win wasn’t anywhere near that meaningful, and Snyder said that he doesn’t think K-State has “arrived” yet. He thinks it still has plenty of work ahead of it. That’s true. The Wildcats will need to continue improving to win tough upcoming games against Baylor and Missouri, but this was a nice start down that path.
K-State looked brilliant on offense at times behind Collin Klein and John Hubert. And its defense played well enough to win against a strong, fast Miami offense. Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
Seven that were good:
1. Collin Klein. Kansas State’s quarterback did everything on Saturday. He ran for 93 yards (many of them tough yards) on 22 carries and threw for 133 yards and two touchdowns. Most of his passes were short, but they were all safe. The only time he took a risk he made a perfect pass, lofting the ball over a linebacker and in between two defensive backs to hit Tyler Lockett for a 20-yard touchdown. He left the game with blood on his jersey, too many scratches to count and a slight limp in his step. But he said that simply came from being tired after a tough game. His teammates appreciated his efforts.
Here’s what Chris Harper had to say about Klein: “I told him at halftime, ‘Since we’re in Florida you should go into Tim Tebow mode.’ That’s really what he was out there doing … He played tough. He played really, really tough. I was proud of him today. He took some hits.”
2. John Hubert. K-State meet your top running back. Hubert, a sophomore from Waco, Texas, proved his worth with a breakthrough game at Miami. He got loose for several long runs, including one that went for 47, and rushed for 166 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. All against a talented defense. Snyder has been unwilling to label any of his running backs as the go-to guy this season, but that title undoubtedly now belongs to Hubert.
3. Arthur Brown. The final stat sheet only had him down for six tackles, but I find that hard to believe. The junior linebacker, who transferred to K-State from Miami, seemed like he was involved in every play that wasn’t a pass down field. His closing ability continues to impress, but what he does best is tackle. When he has a defender in his sights, the defender goes down on the first attempt.
“Arthur is awfully quick,” Snyder said. “He’s quicker than he is fast. He just has a nose for the football. He does a good job of avoiding blocks, getting where he needs to be. To couple with the speed, he’s learned to have some patience, which prevents him from overrunning the football.”
4. Nigel Malone. Though he got burnt badly late for a 34-yard touchdown strike and committed the pass-interference penalty that setup Miami’s goal-line stand in the final moments, he deserves to be listed in the “good” category. The junior cornerback made seven tackles, grabbed an interception and broke up a pass on a key play in the first half. He now has three interceptions on the season, and is continuing to make an impact on K-State’s defense.
5. Tre Walker. He made THE tackle of the game in the final moments, stopping Jacory Harris just short of the end zone on fourth down. What did he have to say about it? “Like anybody would do, I just came up and made the play.” Humble. Walker continues to play with the right attitude. He made eight tackles on Saturday, and greatly contributed to K-State’s win.
(Two more, because the Wildcats played so well overall)
6. Offensive line. It was kind of incredible to see a unit that has been through so many injuries and new lineups this season play the way it did against Miami. With Zach Hanson starting in place of injured left tackle Manase Foketi, K-State’s offensive line led the way up front for 265 rushing yards. Klein was sacked three times, but for the most part he had time to drop back in the pocket and make easy throws. After the game, both Klein and Hubert were asked about their big rushing days. They each credited the offensive line. So did Snyder.
“You don’t line up and play against a team like that, a defense like that, without having gone from last year, first week to second week to third week without making progress,” Snyder said. “We had to be better up front in order to have an opportunity to put any points up on the board, and we were.”
7. Tyler Lockett. The freshman wide receiver made his first touchdown catch with K-State, and stayed poised in a difficult environment as the game went along. You could say he’s beginning to live up to the family name.
Three that were bad:
1. Bryce Brown. The transfer running back received no carries and only saw the field for a handful of plays. On one series, he was sent into the flats on passing plays, and had no impact. Later, he came in for another passing play and whiffed badly on a block in the backfield and was immediately yanked. He was expected to be K-State’s top running back this year, and was named to the media’s all-conference team in the preseason, but he is looking like the Wildcats’ third option at the moment.
2. Defensive line. Though Jordan Voelker, Vai Lutui, Ray Kibble, Adam Davis and Meshak Williams were still way better than K-State’s defensive line looked a year ago, they struggled at times. They failed to make a sack for the first time this season, and surrendered a 59-yard touchdown run that Lamar Miller took right up the gut.
3. David Garrett. Did he play a bad game? No, overall he played strong. But he did make a bad play that summed up the overall struggles of K-State’s Kick coverage. Miami returned five kickoffs for 117 yards, often putting Anthony Cantele in the awkward position of trying to chase a quick Hurricanes player out of bounds. While those struggles can’t be assessed to a single player, Garrett forgot to run down field on the opening kickoff, lagging behind his teammates by 20 yards. A complete mental error. Others often over pursued Miami’s return men.
It’s fair to say Snyder out-coached Al Golden. After showing little beyond the team’s basic offensive package in its first two games, K-State hit Miami with a nice mixture of passes and runs early to take a 14-3 lead. The Hurricanes never saw that coming. Miami made a strong push in the second half, and just about won the game, but K-State coaches showed how much effort they have put into their defense with that final goal-line stand.
An estimated 2,500 K-State fans were in attendance at Sun Life Stadium on Saturday. Athletic director John Currie summed up the turnout this way: “We had thousands of K-State fans, tons of purple. Everybody saw it on TV. It was a great example of the K-State family.”
Key play you may have overlooked
Collin Klein’s biggest run of the day might have been a 26-yarder in the second quarter. After a bizarre sequence of penalties (holding, false start, delay of game, false start) K-State was backed up near its own end zone and faced a second-and-29 at its own 3. Some were joking about a quick kick at that point, but Klein took a keeper up the middle for a 26-yard gain to set the Wildcats up for a first down on the next play. Klein moved the chains himself with a 13-yard gain.
Miami had more first downs than K-State (18 to 16) more yards than K-State (411 to 398) fewer penalties than K-State (four to six) and was playing at home. And still, the Wildcats were able to win this game.
Quote to note
“This is a great win. I’m just so thankful. It gives us a lot of great confidence, because it shows us and everybody else that we can do it. It’s really not about everybody else, but it is about us standing in there and realizing that we can do this.” — Walker.