Game week is long and hard, tense with anticipation of the weekend's sweet release, and never more so than during conference play. That's why we're here, scraping and clawing our way over that midweek ridge so you can start the smooth coast toward kickoff with a better understanding of what awaits you at the bottom. This week's guest is Jon Morse, showrunner of longtime internet musical Bring on the Cats.
Ulysses S. Cocksman: Welcome, thanks for joining us. Kansas State comes into Austin this week weathering a rough stretch of conference play, dropping a pair of potential upsets late, and a home loss to OU that was just a hair north of "snuff film" on the spectrum of uncomfortable viewing. How is the team handling it, and where do you see them going from here?
Jon Morse: That largely depends on who you ask and in what venue. Publicly, it's all sunshine and roses. They were embarrassed, they're mad, and they're going to come out fighting Saturday and give it all they've got. "Don't give up on us, because we're not giving up on you." You know, stuff I think you've heard before too.
On the other hand, we had reports from people who were sitting sideline that after K-State's second offensive series, players were screaming at their position coaches asking them the very same question everyone else was screaming at their television: "Why aren't we running the ball?" Insider reports suggest that K-State practiced all week expecting to run, too.
If that's all accurate, you can probably guess at what the environment really is like in the locker room right now.
Well, as long as they can keep it off Twitter, it should be okay. Texas, on the other hand, has rinsed away some of the bile from a disastrous start by ruining a hated rival’s shit in front of God and everyone, and has had two weeks to heal up and refine the offense. So, logically, how many touchdowns should we expect the Cats to win by?
You're making the mistake of assuming that K-State can score touchdowns on offense against the Texas D. And since Texas isn't passing much this year, we can't expect Heard to challenge Garrett Gilbert for the coveted title of Greatest Kansas State Quarterback Ever™.
(And even if you did, 3/4 of our back seven are hurt.)
Remember that time K-State won at Royal with 120-some yards of offense? If our front seven can bottle the Longhorn running game, we may get a repeat.
Guuuuuh, yes. In the last decade, Texas is 1-6 against Kansas State. ONE AND FUCKING SIX. That is horrifying. I’m on record as having written some truly terrible things about the program, the school, the players, the stadium, the coaching staff, the town, and the local culinary options, but it comes from a place of completely respectful hate. Should I then consider K-State our worthiest rival, and what marketing-friendly, brand-agnostic name should we give the matchup? Most importantly, describe the trophy we would be fighting for annual possession of.
You know, the entire topic of the Texas-KSU rivalry fascinates me. There are obviously Longhorns who turn their noses up at the very idea because Texas is clearly superior to Kansas State in every imaginable fashion, even though the University of Texas doesn't make its own delicious ice cream. There are others who seem inclined to accept it as a real rivalry, except they'll insist that a rivalry requires both teams to win periodically. That's strange to me, because saying it's not a rivalry because you're not holding up your end of the bargain seems like deflaction. More recently, there are a few Horns who actually do seem to feel like it's become one, and they're fun people who deserve applause.
Obviously, K-State feels that we're far more worthy a rival than those land-thieving miscreants to whom Texas delivered a richly-deserved comeuppance. Your other rival is barely worth mentioning anyway, and I don't know why y'all even concern yourselves with Chocopockets. I mean, did you know that the Aggies were only 3-3 against K-State BEFORE Bill Snyder's arrival in Manhattan? That's embarrasing. Appalling, even.
I'm actually fond of the Chisholm Trail Rivalry as a name. Trophy? Bill Snyder and Mack Brown hugging it out in bronze. Make it happen.
I should note that we're not desperate for the approval of Texas as a rival; in a lot of ways, we feel the same way Texas does. We've only been playing regularly for a couple of decades, and unlike certain other rivalries this one may just have a little too much mutual respect to really take off. That doesn't mean we can't have a trophy, though.
Totally agree. Honestly, if they sold tiny replicas, I'd buy two and put them on my mantel as bookends to my extensive Mack-Snyder fanfic collection.It really speaks to me on a number of levels.
So tell us what to expect from the offense this week. Your starting quarterback is a backup quarterback, your backup is a wide receiver, and the next man up appears to be a partially shaved Yeti. How in the hell did K-State get here, and what can we do to get this guy some snaps out of the shotgun?
We got here like so:
The starting quarterback, Jesse Ertz, wrecked his knee on the very first play of the first game of the season, and is gone for the year. The third-string quarterback, freshman Alex Delton, wasn't expected to play this year unless... well, unless happened. He got hurt during the UTSA game, and is gone for the year apparently. The fourth-string quarterback, JUCO transfer Jonathan Banks, came down with mono. The alleged fifth-string quarterback, Zach Davidson (another walk-on), apparently isn't up to the level of the starting wide receiver who now MIGHT be the starting quarterback on Saturday, Kody Cook. And he might be the starter because Joe Hubener, the titular second-string quarterback, completely fell apart last Saturday.
Clear as mud?
You wanna see Geary taking snaps from the shotgun, though, I think we'll need at least five or six more injuries.
Well, I don't wish injury upon anyone, but that is very much a thing that I want to see. Can't make an omelette without breaking a whole shit ton of eggs, I suppose, and the Will Geary Quarterback Omelette looks amazing.
What about the defense? What's left there that's working, and how do you think it matches up against Texas?
The good news for Texas is that every starter in the secondary either is injured or has missed part or all of one of the last two games due to injury.
The bad news for Texas is that I don't think Texas cares about K-State's secondary much more than K-State cared about theirs in 2011. Except for the concussed Elijah Lee the entire front seven is healthy, and obviously that's where the run-stopping action's going to be taking place. We're probably not looking at what K-State did to Ricky Williams or anything, but I suspect Texas really is going to have to try to take to the air to make progress Saturday.
Then again, to an extent all those injuries -- save for Dante Barnett -- have been addition by subtraction. If Texas takes any cues from Trevone Boykin, they won't even throw in Duke Shelley's direction; Shelley ripped off his redshirt and played in his very first game against TCU, with the result being zero catches for Colby Listenbee. The safety play in Barnett's absence hasn't been entirely terrible either, but also hasn't been to his level.
Let’s talk about Bill Snyder, because that’s my favorite damn thing. Everyone likes to joke about him being a centuries-old wizard with an intimate knowledge of dark, arcane arts that allow him to conjure entire rosters from JUCO and wins from the ether. To me, this seems unwise, because it’s almost certainly true, and joking about it tests the benevolence of a being who regularly heaps crushing despair on tens of thousands of people in the course of playing a game.
But having a near-immortal for a head coach does present some issues of succession. Has he earned the right to continue until he’s ready to hang up the windbreaker, far in the distant future, or is there a sense that we’re nearing the end of the run? If he did retire, how can the university avoid replicating any of the other two dozen coaching hires of the last hundred years, all of which were complete butt?
I think the sense is this:
He's earned the right to quit when he's ready, and some people are starting to hope that day comes Real Soon Now. One of Bill Snyder's best and worst traits is his loyalty, and as a result he simply will not jettison an assistant who's dropping the ball. There are those who'd argue that right now, that's a big problem. (Me, I'm on the fence, although I still can't excuse some of the things that have transpired this year.)
As for the new hire, what John Currie will have to do is very simple: remember that this is Kansas State University, a proud institution with a football tradition that goes back to before anyone who the new coaches will be recruiting was even born.
In 1988, K-State went with an unproven coordinator because he was literally the only competent applicant for the job. In 2005, K-State went with a buffoon because they were trying to pinch pennies for stadium upgrades that ended up not coming to fruition until Snyder himself came back.
This is the dichotomy of K-State. If you're under 30, maybe even under 35, you simply have no memory whatsoever of Kansas State being a terrible football program. Think about that. Also think about this: because of the television revenues for which it's responsible, K-State has spent the pretty much the entire history of the Big 12 conference as a net payer to revenue sharing, just like Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and maybe those Aggies.
So K-State has to unshackle itself from its self-imposed inferiority complex and realize that while Manhattan is not the swaggiest locale on the college football map, the program has value. If staying "in the family" is important, fine; maybe you go after a Brent Venables. Otherwise, you get someone other schools are chasing -- Justin Fuente, Tom Herman, guys like that. No settling for anyone that your peer institutions wouldn't even give an interview.
I think we can all agree that the Big 12 is completely fantastic in every way. What’s your favorite part?
I'd have to say the officiating, whose on-field performance is simply unparalleled and something the conference can rightly say brings it attention and publicity.
OK, my producer is telling me that we’re up against a break, so I’m going to wrap this up by asking for a couple of educated guesses. First, tell us what you believe actually happened to EcoKat, and what Willie the Wildcat’s complicity might be.
Well, this is a pretty sordid tale, and I'm not supposed to talk about it. But we're friends, so I'll dish a little.
See, Willie and EcoKat... well, look, I don't want to get into too much detail, but she went away to a home for wayward kittens for a few months, then joined a convent. I'll let you fill in the blanks. The worst part, of course, is that there are multiple Willies, and nobody even knows which one was responsible.
But that's just between us, okay?
Scandalous! All right, take us home with a game prediction.
Either K-State establishes some sort of offense or it doesn't, and either it stifles Texas on the ground or it doesn't. I really have no idea what to expect, because we're dealing with two teams which have spent their last two games demonstrating all the clinical symptoms of manic depressive disorder.
But since it's Texas, and obviously the Longhorns' rightful place is beneath K-State's cruel and embittered heel, we'll go K-State 27, Texas 14.
Or Texas 30, K-State 6. I JUST DON'T KNOW, MAN.
You and me both, buddy.