The Analysis: K-State comes up just short
It's time to dive in and give a full analysis to Kansas State's 27-24 loss to the Texas Longhorns in Austin last Saturday.
When looking at the five factors, K-State simply couldn't sustain early success on offense. Scoring 1.89 points per drive and getting beat in success rate by 13 percent isn't going to get it done. Plus the low average starting field position (this doesn't account for the kickoff return touchdown) was also a problem.
Meanwhile, K-State gave up way too many big plays as the game went along, gave up a success rate of nearly 55 percent, and had its worst havoc rate game of the year. Missed tackles showed up again, and this defense simply doesn't have the margin for error to make up for mistakes.
Defensively, the drive stats are pretty solid; you can live with a TD rate of 27 percent and FG rate of 18 percent.
However, UT drove the ball (nearly 43 yards per drive) and K-State didn't force punts, so their points per drive of 2.45 was more than enough.
Offensively, the Cats only scored on three drives in nine tries. The special teams score was huge, but offense has to give more to beat good teams on the road.
Courtney Messingham had some nice schemes dialed up early, but once it became an evenly schemed game, UT's talent won out.
K-State simply couldn't overcome not having James Gilbert again, and the staff seemed to make a specific effort to save Skylar Thompson a bit in the running game. Texas does have big, physical defenders, so this was likely a wise move for the rest of this season. K-State is going to have trouble when the RB run game can't get going, and the 2.7 yards per carry and 31.6 percent success rate tell the story there.
On top of that, play action was ineffective. While the drop back pass game and quick screens were nice, I don't think K-State's offense can live off of those. The game plan put the Cats in the lead and gave them a shot deep into the fourth quarter, but the offense has to give more for this team to beat good teams on the road.
K-State battled, but the first halt turnover and empty drives within UT's 40 came back to bite K-State late. This team simply doesn't have the margin in talent to make up for those type of self inflicted mistakes.
While I would say there were some things that can be questioned regarding the play calls this week, it would be a stretch to call this a poorly coached game. Now the Cats must move on and bounce back in a winnable game next week at home vs West Virginia.
K-State tried to stay balanced on first and second downs, as the Wildcats called 21 running plays and 21 passing. However, they were not able to generate enough yardage on the ground (3.2 yards per play on first down and 2.0 on second down) to set themselves up in third and manageable. K-State's two worst success rates came on second and medium and second and long, as the Cats only averaged 0.8 and 3.8 yards per play respectively in those situations.
Early on K-State was able to convert a number of third and long opportunities, but that eventually caught up with K-State. While it isn't safe to bet the Wildcats would have converted 100% of their third and medium or short opportunities if there were more than them, it is highly likely the success rate would have been much higher than 25 percent.
K-State did average 11.2 yards per play on third down passing plays, but that number dropped to 3.7 when in third and long.
Thompson started the game by completing 13 of his first 15 attempts, but his last two throws of the first half were incomplete, and then he was only 4-1of-10 in the second half. There was a drop on the first drive of the 2nd half, and the Texas defender made a really good play to rip the ball away from Dalton Schoen on a great throw on Thompson's last attempt of the game.
While Thompson only attempted 10 passes in the second half compared to 17 in the first, that was impacted by K-State's inability to sustain drives in the second half. The Wildcats ran only 21 second half plays compared to 32 in the first.
After going 5-of-6 on third down in the first half, Thompson was 0-of-4 in the second.
K-State did not attack Texas down the field or in the middle of the field as much as we have seen the Wildcats do in previous weeks.
Out of 27 total attempts, only three were over 15 yards and only four were in the middle of the field. Some of that was certainly due to how Texas was playing K-State in the first half, as the Longhorns were giving the Wildcats the short throws to the outside.
While Thompson was 12-of-14 on short throws, he was only 4-of-9 on medium depth attempts. Included in those were the two incompletions at the end of the first half, where he missed Chabastin Taylor on the out route on first down and Malik Knowles slipped on second down.
Here are the offensive snap counts broken down by skill position group. Quarterback Skylar Thompson played all 53 offensive snaps, as did Adam Holtorf, Nick Kaltmayer, Tyler Mitchell and Scott Frantz. Guard Evan Curl played 29 snaps, while guard Josh Rivas played the other 24 at that position.
Jordon Brown - 25
Harry Trotter - 20
Tyler Burns - 12
Jax Dineen - 7
Mason Barta - 5
Nick Lenners - 21
Blaise Gammon - 18
Logan Long - 12
Dalton Schoen - 42
Malik Knowles - 33
Wykeen Gill - 25
Chabastin Taylor - 18
Josh Youngblood - 11
Landry Weber - 11
Phillip Brooks - 5
Defensive snap counts credit of PFF:
Kevion McGee - 70
Walter Neil - 70
Denzel Goolsby - 70
Trey Dishon - 54
Wyatt Hubert - 53
Reggie Walker - 53
Da'Quan Patton - 51
Jahron McPherson - 51
Wayne Jones - 50
Elijah Sullivan - 49
Jordan Mittie - 43
Kyle Ball - 25
Daniel Green - 21
Jonathan Alexander - 20
Drew Wiley - 20
Cody Fletcher - 19
Johnathan Durham - 19
Bronson Massie - 16
Joe Davies - 8
Khalid Duke - 7
Eli Huggins - 1