If you were not able to catch the game, the way I'd characterize it, is not being athletic enough. I see the correct play being called most of the time, but we just aren't executing.
For example on Defense, it's lack of athleticism. ISU would get into the backfield, but just miss the QB sack by a step, or over pursue. Often times this was on a blitz, and it would free up a WR, and that is exactly how Gregory was able to connect with Banks for the go-ahead TD.
On Offense, it comes down to simple execution: running the correct routes, making the correct read, delivering the ball in stride. We should have all of the tools there, but guys that we had hoped would improve off of last year (Arnaud, Darks, Sedrick Johnson), just have not yet. We are running the ball well, as we rushed for 200+ yards as a team, but we need to pass the ball effectively to pick up more wins this year.
I'm not going to beat around the bush or pretend like this game did not matter. This was huge. If ISU could have won this game, I seriously think that 6 games would not have been out of the question. I just hope that I let down like this, does not rattle the team's confidence.
The guys on this team have not won a Big 12 game. Starting the conference season out with a win, would've helped build confidence down the road. Hopefully the team can come with some positive takeaways that they can build on in the future.
A positive takeaway for me was Arnuad being able to lead the troops down the field, in a must-score situation. A lot of Cyclone fans have been questioning Arnuad, and despite his struggles, it's clear he's the Cyclones' leader. I think we would be worse off, if he was not out there.
Below are some general takeaways I had from the game. I was hoping to provide a good breakdown of stats, but as you will see if you check the box score and below, it was pretty ho-hum:
- Total yardage was pretty equal. ISU had 371 yards on offense, while K-State picked up 360 yards.
- Despite A-Rob playing very little, ISU picked up yards on the ground. ISU picked up 207 rushing yards, averaging 5 yards/carry.
- Overall, the teams were very equal. Both had similar yardage, both turned the ball over the same number of times (2), and almost scored the same number of times.The teams even averaged the same number of yards/play at 5.5. It was fitting the game was decided on special teams. Just stunk we were on the bad end of it.
- The stat the leaps off the page for me is third down conversions. Kansas State went 8 of 15 on third downs. For a team with a 22% conversion rate coming into the game, that's a pretty significant improvement. ISU was only 6 of 15. If ISU could have made a few more stops on defense, and picked up more first downs on offense, it may have been a different game.
- I wish A-Rob would've been healthy. I have no idea how the game may have turned out had he played, but he had been carrying our offense, and he would've been a good receiving target as ISU for those key situations. At the same time, injuries are part of the game.
- K-State's Field Goal Block unit. When your head coach is shocked with what you did, I think it speaks volumes as to how much that unit stepped up on the PAT.
- Jake Williams (5 catches, 61 yards, 1 TD). Going from walk-on to go-to guy. Great story and great catch in the end zone to put ISU in a position to tie the game.
- Grant Gregory. Not a great QB by any stretch, but avoiding a Christopher Lyle sack, to connect to Banks on a 54 yard TD was a huge play that put K-State up for good. All the good QBs make plays like this, but for a guy who hasn't been great to do it, is really big.
- Mike Brandtner (5 punts, 216 yards, 2 inside the 20). Made some nice punts, to not give K-State good field position.
Tough loss, and hopefully ISU can learn from this and improve as we head into the thick of Big 12 play.