This sucked. Let's make it quick.
This one starts with the OL, as the OL's slow start helped dig Texas an early hole. Swoopes was facing an unfair amount of pressure early from four rushers as guys were getting whipped by spin moves, bamboozled by simple stunts and simply out-physicaled. The run game saw a modicum of push, but a smallish and so-so DL had their way far too often. Wickline is working diligently to find the right 5-man combo under serious duress, but it's hard to believe that any left-to-right that starts with Hutchins and ends with Hughes is going to optimize us this season.
Swoopes had more or less the kind of day you expect from a guy in his 7th career start going against an extremely well-schooled D on the road with little in the way of support. Snyder's bunch threw plenty of complicated zone looks at him, and most of the time his reads were too slow in coming. A mindless sack killed Texas' first chance to get points on the board and establish some degree of momentum, and he had several blown read/keep decisions on Read Option that could have sparked the Texas ground game (and likely scored in one instance.) He did have some nice runs, showed off his arm to several parts of the field and did a good job hitting some routes in the soft spots in KSU's zone in the second half. He's not at a spot where he can consistently elevate this team against quality defenses, and the team isn't in a spot where they can elevate him. Which means we're not in a good spot.
Our top two tailbacks' best attribute is that they get north and south and typically get what's blocked. But when what's blocked is all too often in the spare-to-fair range at best, you just HAVE to get more than what's blocked on occasion and it's not happening. BC invented "It's not about the damned back," and no one is calling for a Nietzschean ubermensch to come in here and single-handedly transform the run game. But turning two yards into four and four yards into six and stepping out of the occasional ankle tackle with a ton of green grass in front of you are things that 30 or 40 D1 running backs are doing every single Saturday. D'Onta Foreman came in and ran with a different type of urgency and aggression on a few plays, and then promptly rifled a ball off Shipley from 11 inches away on a reverse for a dooming fumble.
John Harris took both the big plays and the killer mistake out of his repertoire today, which is...maybe progress? Shipley did some standard Shipley things (which unfortunately has come to include slipping in the open field) with a few non-standard Shipley drops, and the rest of the WR corps was MIA. Swaim blocked his ass off and caught X number of balls for Y number of yards, where Y = X * 4.
Third-and-wrong defense killed what was at times a spirited effort. They surrendered one 3rd and 13 when three underneath guys covered grass like Duane Akina was still in the house and gave up another when Duke Thomas made a brain-dead bite on a slant-and-go. KSU's final third-down stats were even beyond what you'd have expected from Scipio's pre-game writeup, and they are absolutely the headliner here. As well as we played in some phases and as many uncalled holds as we drew on the edges, that kind of 3rd down performance is just not the mark of a defense that's anywhere close to where it needs to be.
Our DL generally held up (or were held up) between getting whipped on a few zone runs early and entering "Oh well we ain't winning this one" mode late. We showed reasonable discipline on containing a mobile QB, but like the Longhorn corners there was a struggle to find the right mix of safety and aggression. Some mush rushes gave Waters too much time on some downs while over-aggression on the edges got punished with some escapes. Our secondary had some trouble matching coverage to blitz calls to hand out some easy candy, and frequently played so scared of the deep ball that an array of absurd sideline comebacks bailed out the Wildcat offense time after time. Throw in some shoddy tackling to surrender a few more key conversions and it was a pretty poor day despite decent surface numbers against Lockett.
44 and 55 mean a lot of free yardage in the middle of the field, and 19 really doesn't need to see the field again this season.
We had a great first punt, which was followed up by a 12-yard side foot job and a 20-yard net on their side of the 50. The return unit simply can't get a big or even medium return to provide a spark, and naturally we threw in a requisite hold to start us inside our own 20. Our punt return unit is stuck in a fucked-up no-man's land where we can't put on a rush for fear of roughing the punter and are barely willing to attempt a return for fear of a fumble or block in the back. In the 4th, a K-State cover guy came down, got blocked, made a diving one-handed swipe that caught Foreman's leg and sent him stumbling to the deck...and in doing so displayed more want-to and effort than our collective return blocking teams have shown all year.
It's simply got to be said - this was a horrendously officiated game, and Texas bore the brunt. We finally saw some holds called in the second half that were just too egregious to miss, but there were a litany of uncalled holds on the edges in the first half to go along with a face-guard-contact-made-no-PI on Shipley at the 1 yard line. A couple of truly bizarre spots where there seemed to be zero effort made to even approximate the proper ball location really topped off the shit sandwich. The game Texas played was not going to result in a win, but it in no way should have resulted in a 23-0 defeat, either.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Texas made plenty of mistakes and paid for every one of them. K-State made next to none, and comfortably won a game where they looked like they had about 2.5 special players on the field. Texas doesn't have nearly enough talent to play as dumb as they're consistently playing, and there are plenty of guys who are way too quick to drop their heads when things go wrong.
Under the circumstances, a hard fought and high-spirited loss could have represented another step forward for this team. Instead, it was a step back.