This game felt more like a Turner Gill-era game. Even in the first half, when we were chewing up clock with long drives and keeping the game close, it felt like everything had to go just right to keep us there. We forced a three-and-out on KSU's first drive, we had a successful fake punt, followed by a successful fake field goal, and we capitalized on a risky playcall on the final play of the half, stopping Colin Klein just shy of the goal line with no timeouts remaining. Yet we still went into halftime down 7, giving up 9.9 yards per play. I never really felt like we were in this one, especially after Tony Pierson was knocked out. We did some things well offensively in the first half, but overall it was a bad performance.
Offense - D-
I won't go with an F, because I don't think the wheels would have come off completely had Pierson been able to stay in the game. He was heavily involved in the first half, catching six passes for 63 yards and a score. After he got hurt, it seemed KSU knew we weren't able to run the sideline-to-sideline offense anymore, and keyed in our running game. Once this happened, Dayne Crist turned back into the Crist we've seen through the first part of the season, throwing an interception on the final play of the first half, and two more in the third quarter. True, two of these were on tipped balls, but the balls wouldn't have been tipped had Crist thrown them where the receiver could catch them.
The play looked fine when we had the defense spread out in the first half, but the Sims' running lanes appeared to shrink in the second. Crist's protection wasn't outstanding (4 sacks), but he was generally given time to make a read and throw. Andrew Turzilli continued to stand out as KU's top receiving threat, catching 5 passes for 67 yards.
James Sims continued to shine in his second game since returning from suspension, running for 115 yards on 28 carries, despite sitting much of the fourth quarter when we were out of the game. According to the KU Athletics website, this was Sims' first 100+ yards effort in which Kansas didn't win. I'll give Taylor Cox some credit here as well. He only finished with 43 yards on ten carries, but much of that came in the fourth quarter. Despite the game being out of reach, Cox was running like a man on a mission, fighting for extra yards and refusing to go down after the first hit. It won't look like much in the box score, but I liked seeing that kind of fight after the game was long out of reach.
Overall, the offense was simply ineffective after Pierson came out. It's hard to judge Michael Cummings, as it seemed Weis was keeping the offense pretty vanilla for him, and he didn't have much chance to show anything in just four pass attempts. I did like that we managed to eat up some clock (81 plays, 24 first downs, 37 minutes of possession), but much like many games during the Turner Gill era, those numbers are deceptive because we allowed K-State to score so quickly and effortlessly that the offense routinely found themselves right back out on the field. We averaged 4.8 yards per play, which was actually a slight improvement from the Northern Illinois game, but the end result was Kansas getting shut out in the second half, while the Wildcats racked up touchdowns. There were a couple silver linings, but not enough for me to go any higher than a D.
Defense - F
I'm not sure how this week's version of the defense differed from Vic Shealy's last year. There really isn't a lot to say about the defense this week. They're still awful. I still believe the line is improved from last year, but they still weren't able to get any push, and the KSU o-line was able to blast enormous holes in the run game, and they were able to get to the second and third lines of defense on almost every play. K-State racked up about 9.2 yards per play, which actually decreased late when they went ultraconservative and were simply trying to run out the clock. At one point in the second half, it was well over ten, as the Wildcats simply took what they wanted from us. It reminded me a bit of last year's Georgia Tech game, which is not something I care to remember. Even in just 7 completed passes, Klein was able to expose our corners, specifically Tyler Patmon, who was simply not good enough to cover Chris Harper. If we're looking for silver linings, I'll point out that Ben Heeney had another fine game, and I'm glad that we have a couple more years of him to look forward to as this team builds for the future.
Special Teams - F
We managed to give up a 31 yard kick return and a 35 yard punt return, while missing a chip shot field goal and averaging 31 yards per punt. Oh, and we fumbled two kickoffs. I think that just about covers it.
Overall - F
I'd like to say that remaining competitive through the first half with a Top 10 is enough to raise us out of the "F" range, but the game lasts 60 minutes, and it took some nice breaks to accomplish even that much. Before this game, I'd been holding onto the fact that we hadn't really been dominated yet, and that even if we went 1-11 this, there was still hope that we would still be able to accomplish that goal of competitiveness this year. That pretty much went out the window Saturday afternoon. It's clear that the improvements on the defense aren't going to be enough for us to slow down teams like West Virginia, Baylor, OSU, Oklahoma...even Texas or Texas Tech. Through five games it's safe to say that this offense isn't going to keep us in a game with any of those teams, either. In Cummings' limited action in the fourth quarter, I certainly didn't see anything that leads me to believe that a change in QB is going to turn this offense around either. We have a bad football team. I'm not abandoning hope, but I'm going to accept the reality of where things are today. Charlie Weis may be able to turn the football program around (at least to some extent). He may fail. I don't know, and neither does anyone else without a crystal ball. At this point all we can do is hope for signs of improvement and success on the recruiting trail. After the frustrations of the Turner Gill era, I understand that no one wants to accept that, but it's where we are.