Fiesta Bowl Countdown: From now on, Nigel Malone isn’t taking chances at the goal line

If Nigel Malone has the chance to score a touchdown against Oregon, he says he won’t drop the football until he runs through the back of the end zone and an official asks him for it.

Even then, he might be hesitant to part with the pigskin.

That’s the kind of caution he vows to show the rest of his career after the humiliating play he made against Texas. If you don’t recall the gaffe, here’s what happened: He intercepted a pass near the sideline in the first quarter and saw nothing but open field between him and the end zone. But as he approached the goal line, he became overconfident and dropped the ball an inch short of paydirt. Officials originally awarded him a touchdown, but took it away after a lengthy review.

“I’m pretty sure I crossed it. The line was behind me before I let the ball go. But it is what it is,” said Malone, a senior cornerback. “I know next time I won’t make it close. I’m going to give it to the ref. I might bring it back to the sideline.”
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Fiesta Bowl Countdown: K-State’s defense will stick with fundamentals against Oregon

With Oregon only losing one game this season, it’s easy to sit back and say Kansas State should devise a defensive gameplan similar to the one Stanford used during a 17-14 victory in Eugene.

The Cardinal out-gained the Ducks that night and held Oregon well below its average scoring output. Heck, it scored at least 42 points in each of its other 11 games. Stanford must have been onto something, right?

Perhaps, but K-State coaches aren’t thinking that way.

“That would be a game that a lot of people would say, ‘You could feed off of that,’” coach Bill Snyder said. “But all teams are different. Our defense is different from Stanford’s defense and vice-versa. You have to be careful. You can’t say, ‘They did it, so we can do it.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

So what will K-State’s defensive strategy be against Oregon? Snyder runs far too tight a ship to come out and diagram his plans with the media. But after talking to Snyder and defensive coordinator Tom Hayes, it is clear they won’t be using any brand new schemes or formations.

“We are not going to gimmick and do a bunch of crazy things,” Hayes said. “Several of these teams that have gotten in trouble against Oregon gimmicked and got caught out of gaps – woosh, 50, 70 right over the top – misreads, misexecution if you will. Hopefully we stay away from that.”
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Sunday Rewind: K-State 51, Missouri State 9

Kansas State’s 51-9 victory over Missouri State on Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium was the closest 42-point victory you will ever see.

At halftime, the Wildcats led 9-6 and everyone feared this could be Eastern Kentucky all over again.

Early in the third quarter, the Bears tied things up at 9-9.

As the clock ran out, it was a blowout.

So how did K-State turn a game that was tied in the second half into the lopsided victory all BCS conference teams hope for on opening night?

Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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Collin Klein, Nigel Malone, Arthur Brown nominated for national awards

The Kansas State football team was well represented on the national awards front Monday morning.

Three Wildcats were named to preseason watch lists for some of the most prestigious awards in college football.

Senior quarterback Collin Klein is up for the Maxwell Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate football player. Senior cornerback Nigel Malone and senior linebacker Arthur Brown are both up for the Bednarik Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive player at the end of each season.

Klein is one of 65 total players, including 11 from the Big 12, named to the Maxwell watch list. He is the third player in K-State history to make the list and the first since Darren Sproles in 2004.

Brown was a semifinalist for the Bednarik last season, but Malone is in the mix for the first time. They are the third and fourth K-State players to be considered for the award and the first since Chris Canty in 1996.

A list of semifinalists for both awards will be announced on Oct. 29, with the field being cut to finalists on Nov. 19. Both awards will be presented Dec. 6 during the Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show.

Sunday Rewind: K-State 53, Texas A&M 50

Overall Assessment:
Kansas State was without one of its top offensive playmakers, its quarterback was clearly in pain when the game began and several of its defensive players had to fight through injuries in the second half.

Not an ideal combination for a team trying to bounce back from disappointing losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

But, in typical K-State fashion, the Wildcats found a way to win. In four overtimes! Yes, I just used an exclamation mark.

Saturday’s game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium was one of the strangest and most exciting of the season. Combined with last week’s entertaining 52-45 loss at Oklahoma State, the Wildcats are delivering must-see TV to ABC/ESPN.

At 8-2 overall and 5-2 in Big 12 play, plenty of bowl games are starting to look at them. With a strong finish, they could end up in the Cotton Bowl.

K-State still has plenty to work on if it hopes to get an invitation to the Big 12’s top non BCS bowl. It continues to start games slowly, and was once again unable to sack the opposing quarterback. But as long as it continues to play with the resolve it has all season, K-State will have a shot at a 10-win season.

“With the exception of one ballgame, they’ve done it week in, week out,” Snyder said. “… It’s all about how we respond to things, and I think with the exception of kind of getting a little full of ourselves prior to the Oklahoma ballgame, I think we’ve responded quite well.”

Against Texas A&M, the Wildcats rallied from a 14-0 deficit, a 31-21 deficit and won in quadruple overtime. It was a fitting end to the series before the Aggies jump to the SEC. The only other overtime game K-State has played came against Texas A&M in the 1998 Big 12 championship game.

Collin Klein once again led K-State’s offense to the victory, and the defense came through with big plays when it had to behind Nigel Malone and Emmanuel Lamur. Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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Sunday Rewind: Oklahoma 58, K-State 17

Overall Assessment: Every realistic Kansas State football fan knew the Wildcats’ undefeated run was going to come to an end at some point. Maybe the way Oklahoma ended that run, by exposing several of K-State’s weaknesses in a 58-17 blowout Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, was surprising. But the simple fact that the Wildcats are trying to move on from their first loss today is not.

The question now is: How will they handle it?

The Sooners posed significant matchup problems for the Wildcats. In order to beat Oklahoma, as Texas Tech shockingly did in Norman last week, you have to pressure Landry Jones and throw the ball for big yardage. K-State could do neither, and had to step out of its comfort zone. That led to zero success in the second half. Oklahoma played the game at its terms, and made winning look easy.

Difficult opponents remain on K-State’s schedule, but none play exactly the same style. If the Wildcats can put Saturday’s loss behind them, they can still finish the season strong and make it to a prestigious bowl game. In the past two seasons, they have rebounded well from brutal losses. A humiliating 66-14 loss at Texas Tech was followed with a 62-14 win over Texas A&M and a 48-13 loss to Nebraska was followed by a 59-7 win over Kansas.

But this is the first time this team has seen its own blood. Bill Snyder and players say Saturday’s loss was unacceptable, and that they will turn things around quickly.

“I would say that we have a tough minded group of young guys that understand and deal with success and with failure,” Snyder said. “I would hope that the failure would not come from not caring and not trying to correct your mistakes, like when we have not failed. Our guys seem to care, tend to care. They will begin to make an effort and try and get all of their mistakes corrected.”

We’ll have to wait a week to find out how much they correct. Here’s a look at all that and more in this week’s Sunday Rewind:
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Sunday Rewind: K-State 28, Miami 24

Overall Assessment: This was Kansas State’s biggest win since … when?

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:

Player Evaluations

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.”
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