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Texas Football: The Kansas State Post-Mortem

First, congratulations to Ron Prince and Kansas State. He watched film and he's thoroughly competent. We were thoroughly seal-clubbed in every phase of the game. He ran the gameplan that every team we'll play will be running for the rest of the year if their coach boasts an IQ north of 85. The only thing that will change is the level of opposing athlete executing the plan and the reliable bell curve of statistical variation.

From my KSU preview:

Special teams continue to be a Kansas State strength, particularly in the punt game. The punter averages 44.6 per kick, the FG kicker is 6 for 6 on the year and the punt return team averages an excellent 23.6 per return while allowing only 9.9. Kickoffs are net wash for them. This should be an area of focus and interest for us as it’s clear that Kansas St has the ability to manufacture points and give your offense a long field. This might be the most neglected area for analysis in this matchup; it’s worth noting - so note it

Wildcat special teams play was the most crucial aspect of the game. The kick off return TD put them up 21-14 after we'd tied the game with a 8 play, 84 yard TD drive. We'd swung momentum to our side and brought the crowd back into the game. Then Boom Goes The Dynamite. James Johnson did a fine job, but the two key elements that created the score had nothing to do with him. For one, he caught it at the 15 yard line on a line drive. Two, Kansas St had set up a hash return which our guys played with no lane discipline at all - we were scouted and that set-up was by design. The second backbreaker was Jordy Nelson's 89 yard punt return which staked them a 34-21 lead. Our effort there was...fascinating. The way our offense was playing, this was effectively ballgame.

Less dramatic, but still impactful: the K-State punter averaged 46.4 per kick; we averaged 35.0 per kick - losing a net 11 yards each time we exhanged punts.

another piece from my preview:

Texas best manifests a downfield passing game when other teams bring the house. But drop everyone back and we’ll explore the directions of east and west in our passing game. We become manageable. The game will get uncomfortably tight and could allow a special teams play to swing it.

A little more soothsaying there. Kansas St didn't blitz us much at all and we went East/West early. Every meaningful play we made was off of a broken play. Ponder that. We run an offense in which our best chance at a positive play is midwifed by the failure of our designed play. On the vast majority of our plays, they brought four, played two deep at all times, and had linebacker drops that featured backpedaling that would do justice to a senator from Idaho. They brought pressure without blindly bringing bodies. When they did bring a LB, he often came on a delay. You see that on the play when Charlie Tanner doubles the nose with Dallas Griffin, forgetting to check the LB after he initially doesn't show blitz, which he then does, giving Colt a handy concussion.

The Kansas St defensive gameplan was fairly simple and devastatingly effective: concede a short reception, tackle well, ignore our running game, puts hits on Colt, pass rushers stress push with hands up rather than penetration, put us in third and long. They did all of those things. Get used to it. Their pass rushers made a concerted effort to get a little push and then settle, putting their hands up while reading the QB's eyes. It was beach volleyball. People blame Colt for batted balls just as they blamed Chris Simms - at some point the ignorant need to understand that five yard routes don't create an arc on the ball, and, further, reasonable scouting tells you the preferred vector and timing for 75% of our pass plays. Go to a likely spot, put your hands up, and wait. It's not as if any our OL have the nastiness required to punch an extended defender in his exposed liver. Kasey Studdard is long gone. And God forbid we throw down the field, put in a half roll, or bootleg. Batting a pass is the DL equivalent of a DB jumping a route - when you know where the ball will go, it's a simple game of geometry and anticipation.

Yes, we do hate Pythagoras

KSU did several clever things on offense, primarily to limit risk and place the onus for playmaking on our least capable players. Well, Prince was not that clever really, but I've been watching Texas coaching for so long that if an opposing coach doesn't masturbate himself on his laminated playcards, I regard him as some kind of John Nash polymath. In a game of simple equations, Prince wanted to play 6 on our best 4, 5 on our worst 7. On special teams, a well-coached 11 vs a Longhorn rabble of 11.

How to get 6 on 4? The Wildcats played a majority of their downs from the two TE set. Their TE's are mediocrities, by the way, but that's besides the point. What they allowed Prince to do was play a man and half to our one. It also protected his weak OTs. This effectively negated our defensive strength - our DL had no impact on the game because they couldn't. Both ends are chipped by TEs (if not outright doubled) on pass plays and the interior DL is 3 on 2 with Freeman taking a short drop and quick release. We're not getting there. Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor will not get there. Akina's initial solution was to play off the KSU WRs while blitzing their max protect. Yes, Akina. That's what you do when a team chooses to put only two men into a route. You blitz them and play off of their WRs. Akina, when frustrated, blitzes dumbly and blindly, disguising it as well as John Holmes' cock wearing Grouch Marx glasses. 7-0 KSU with Freeman 5 of 5 on the opening drive. Brilliant. We can hire any defensive coordinator in college football and half of the NFL and we settle for a comfort hire.

Blitzing incognito

On running plays, playside DL were doubled. Our LBs were ignored. KSU OL went to the next level as an afterthought. Why worry about the 2nd level when the opposing team is going to run blitz the MLB out of the play, the playside LB is going to misdiagnose (and can be juked in the open field when he has the drop on a 6'6" 250 pound QB) and the backside LB runs a 4.8 and probably won't make it? When we played our youngsters it was a different story, but same book, different chapter there.

I was thinking later, you could kiss me on the veranda....Umm..the lips would be fine

Once we decided to match our secondary coverages to our fronts, we tightened up. Prince shrugged. He already understood that he was going to win the game. Running the KSU offense was simply a matter of not turning the ball over and getting off a good punt while their special teams and defense anally fist us and give them back the ball with a short field. He clearly picked up some tricks from Tommy Tuberville during the Auburn game. People who laud our defensive performance in this game are in for some rude awakenings down the road when teams start playing not to punt.

Aside from the usual culprits and suspects, I found a few images telling.

Mack Brown runs off of the field at halftime. We're down 24-14 and he looks completely bewildered. He stresses that the difference in the game is "only three plays" or "we'd have the lead." The subtext is: we just caught some bad breaks. I turn to the friend watching the game with me and say,"Game over."

Schrödinger's Cat is no match for Mack Brown Cat

When Colt McCoy was planted like a rose bush by the KSU LB and received his concussion, he was on his knees in distress, clearly in real pain. His entire offense ran off of the field, not a single player checking his condition, offering a hand, or expressing a "Hey, you OK, man?" You see a couple glance back as they jog off, suggesting a reaction of "Hmm, Colt down. Hey, look - water bottle!" If you played contact team sports of any kind, sirens should be going off right now.

Colt down. Ho hum.

In the 4th quarter, game well in hand, I saw Ron Prince chewing Freeman’s ass. Freeman made a dumb throw missing an open man in the flat and Prince was telling him about it. In some areas, that’s known as coaching. A standard of play is enforced irrespective of the score. A concept totally unknown to us.

The upshot of all of this is that Mack Brown continued to play Colt despite his injury history and the fact that he walked off of the field like a mariner on shore leave after six weeks at sea. Later, we learn that he was only removed when he began puking uncontrollably in the 4th quarter. And we add yet another concussion to his tally.

This staff is lost. And I'm not just talking about football.

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