Overall Assessment: Here’s a stat that sums up Kansas State’s magical run to 6-0.
The Wildcats have entered four consecutive games as underdogs. They have also been out-gained in four consecutive games. And yet … they have won four consecutive games.
It’s never pretty with this group (as evidenced by Saturday’s 41-34 victory over Texas Tech in which K-State was out-gained 580-339 in total yardage) but who can argue with the bottom line? It keeps finding a way to win and is bowl-eligible before Halloween.
The defense has carried the Wildcats all season, but on Saturday special teams kept the game close early and offense won the game late. They got key contributions from unexpected sources such as Raphael Guidry, Allen Chapman, Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett.
How did they do it? How do they continue to do it? K-State has now won five close games decided by a touchdown or less.
“It’s not magic,” Guidry said. “We prepared for this.”
Fair enough. Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
Five that were good:
1. Raphael Guidry. Of all the surprises that came out of Saturday’s game at Jones AT&T Stadium, Guidry was the biggest. The backup defensive tackle, who has played sparingly this season, came through with important play after important play. He blocked two field goals in the first half, which Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville later said changed the game, and made a tackle for loss.
He played inspired football, and he had a reason to. He said a close friend died on Thursday, and he dedicated his performance to him.
“Everything I had in my body,” Guidry said, “I gave it all for him.”
I asked coach Bill Snyder if he was expecting that type of showing out of Guidry.
“I really was,” Snyder said. “Ralph (his nickname), in practice, has really been doing some positive things. In practice if we block kicks Ralph is the guy who does it. And he actually played well defensively when he got in … I was proud of him.”
2. Tyler Lockett. If he doesn’t return a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, there’s no telling how the game would have gone. Texas Tech was taking control at that point, and the Wildcats badly needed a spark. Lockett, a freshman wide receiver, gave them one. He sprinted up the middle, mostly untouched, for the score.
3. Collin Klein. The junior quarterback received a helmet sticker from ESPN late Saturday night, and he deserved the honor. Klein helped K-State play strong offensively in the second half. The Wildcats scored 21 points in the final two quarters, and he ended with 110 rushing yards and three touchdowns to go with 146 yards and one touchdown passing.
We all knew he could run the ball, but he proved himself as a passer against Texas Tech. His fade pass to Chris Harper in the corner of the end zone was one of the prettiest passes you will ever see, and his 35-yard pass to Tramaine Thompson was off the charts.
“He wanted to come back on the plane 6-0, and he led the way,” Lockett said of Klein. “Collin is always big. We all trust him.”
4. Nigel Malone/Tysyn Hartman/David Garrett. Sorry fellas, you have to share this spot again. All three made a big play that helped K-State win. Malone returned an interception 24 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, Hartman grabbed an interception on the first play following a turnover on downs and Garrett made another pick late. Seth Doege threw for 461 yards and three touchdowns, but that happens when you play Texas Tech. The key to beating the Red Raiders is capitalizing on their mistakes. Doege had thrown one interception before Saturday’s game. On Saturday he threw three.
5. Meshak Williams. The defensive end got to Doege and made a huge play in the second half when he knocked the ball loose and recovered the fumble in Texas Tech territory. K-State’s defense spooked Doege throughout the second half, but that play really seemed to demoralize him and the Red Raiders as a whole.
Honorable mentions: Allen Chapman – led K-State with 11 tackles. Tre Walker – clearly the vocal leader on a day when the Wildcats needed him. John Hubert – rushed for 76 tough yards.
Five that were bad:
1. Arthur Brown. He did what he could against Texas Tech’s pass-heavy attack, and actually did well to finish with seven tackles, but he was often taken out of the game early. As the Red Raiders went deep, he was left to bump receivers running short routes across the middle. Coaches need to get creative and find a way for him to keep their best player involved when opposing offenses go around him.
2. Vai Lutui. It’s been a great season for the junior college transfer, but he didn’t bring his best effort on Saturday. Guidry and other players rotated in for him to keep up with Texas Tech’s hurry-up style and Lutui ended with two tackles.
3. Angelo Pease. He ran the ball for seven yards on three carries out of the wildcat formation. Not great production. If K-State is going to use him in that setting, it would be nice to see him do a little more.
4. Anthony Cantele. On a night when K-State was great on special teams, Cantele was not. He missed an extra point and a 31-yard field goal attempt.
5. Eager linemen. K-State jumped off-sides several times on Saturday, and didn’t seem poised early on. That led to 10 penalties for 78 yards.
This was probably Snyder’s finest coaching effort of the season. Texas Tech out-gained K-State by 293 yards in the first half, but the Red Raiders only held a 28-20 lead. That wasn’t enough. Snyder made all the right adjustments in the second half, and the Wildcats outscored Texas Tech 21-6 in the final two quarters.
K-State didn’t have much of a crowd on hand for the game (150 or so was my guess) but it looked like fans were organizing to greet the team as it returned home. Wildcat Nation could have the chance to showcase itself in two weeks. An ESPN source told me this morning that Manhattan is the early favorite to host College Gameday in two weeks as long as K-State and Oklahoma stay undefeated. Other possibilities are USC/Stanford, Clemson/Georgia Tech and Nebraska/Michigan State. But K-State/OU looks like the best game. It could be a matchup of top 15 teams.
Key play you may have overlooked
Texas Tech trailed 41-31 with less than 3 minutes to play. It was at the one-yard line and faced fourth-and-goal. It needed a score, a recovered onside kick and another score. Logic demanded the Red Raiders try for the touchdown. Nope, after being stuffed on two straight attempts from the one, they decided to kick a field goal. Said Hartman: “If that isn’t respect, I don’t know what is.” The plan still worked out OK. Texas Tech recovered an onside kick, but then went four-and-out.
Snyder’s master plan continues to work. Texas Tech gained 580 yards on 96 plays. K-State gained 339 yards on 65 yards. But the Wildcats time of possession was 33 minutes, 33 seconds. Crazy, right?
Quote to note
“They played with determination. They played with mental toughness. They played with discipline,” – Snyder.