Quinn Sharp, OSU's MVP, had a 70 yd punt, 2 field goals, a TD saving tackle on special teams, and this...a roughing the punter penalty...that decided the game for the Cowboys.
There are so many questions that I really don't know where to begin.
So let's start with stats (and yes, Todd Monken, stats are for losers).
For those who would like to bash our defense:
- held KU below their season avg for points...14 (20)
- held KU within 10% of their season avg for both rushing and passing...total yards 398 (373.6)
- KU had 15 completions on 32 attempts...for the season, per game avg...15.6 completions on 31.2 attempts
- held KU under 4 ypc rushing (49-187)
- Sacked KU QB's 3 times (KU season avg 2.6/gm)
- KU averaged 6.6 ypa passing...season avg, 6.1
And they did this without forcing any turnovers, which is nothing new for 2012. I'm not buying that the problem was the defense. For those who would point to the 4th quarter issues, guess what? That's going to happen quite often to a defense in this system that is NOT equitably 2 deep at all positions. At some point you will have lesser developed talent on the field in order to spell first string talent, or the first string talent will be asked to play in important situations and they will be gassed. Either way the defense will be prone to mistakes and missed tackles. Not saying it's what I want, not making excuses, just saying in this moment, in Gundy's system, that the defense was NOT the blame for this performance. The only difference between this year and last is turnover production, and some of that is the opponent's expectation and preparation for protecting the ball against OSU.
Kansas ran more plays than OSU (84-73), and won TOP (33:28 - 26:18), neither of which is abnormal for the Cowboys.
Offensively (and you can take that either way), the Cowboys' production was, shall we say, less than stellar.
- were held to 56% of their avg total ypg (371 - 659)
- 71% of avg total passing ypg (255 - 359)
- 39% of avg total rushing ypg (116 - 300)...this is the one that really puzzles me. This team has shown, when motivated, that they can run the ball down an opponent's throat. Why does this part of the game mysteriously vanish?
- Walsh, who WAS leading the nation in ypa (10.2), managed just 8.8 ypa against Kansas, and that stat would have been 6.4 ypa (less than KU) if not for Charlie Moore's 72 yard catch and run on a short out route.
- Walsh completed 62.4% of his passes, vs his season avg of 66.7%;
- Walsh was 18-29 for the game, vs his avg of 26-39;
- OSU ran the ball 44 times, vs their season avg of 43.25 rushing attempts per game;
The issue...actually issues...for this game were ALL:
- on the field on the offensive side of the ball;
- in the locker room;
- and most importantly, on the leadership;
I will review these in reverse order, beginning with what I think is the most important, and obvious, piece.
The leadership (ie: coaches).
It was painfully clear that this team was NOT prepared to play this game, and I'll put that one squarely on Gundy, Monken, and staff.
I've said previously that when you have a lack of leadership among the players, that the coaches have to step up. They must provide guidance and mentoring in the absence of strong, influential personalities in the locker room. When the team showed up unprepared, what little game plan existed went out the window with execution. Gundy's comment that Lunt was ready if needed reeked of a lack of championship mentality. Great winners put everything into every contest, regardless of opponent. If Lunt was capable of playing if needed, why the hell not start him? The leadership has obviously decided that this year is about growing, developing, and the future. They saw an opportunity to rest Lunt an extra week cuz we won't need our best to beat the Jayhawks. That approach nearly caused the season to implode.
I think the difference between Lunt and Walsh can be shown in the number of plays per game.
Against Arizona and ULL, with Lunt starting, OSU ran 92 and 96 plays respectively. Now you might point out that Lunt left the ULL game after the 6th play, but the game plan was designed for Lunt, so Monken was obligated to deal with that plan. As we look to the 2 games Walsh has started (and Monken and Co. have prepped for), we see 69 plays vs UT and 73 plays vs KU. It is obvious that Monken is calling a much more conservative game, and he admitted as much
after contest on Saturday. Kansas took note of what happened with Texas...while OSU was able to run the ball effectively, our inability (or willingness?) to throw the ball in the red zone resulted in 3 FG's (if any one of those is a TD, OSU wins the game). So Kansas said fine, throw the ball. Throw it all you want. And we didn't. The offensive coaching staff showed what looked like an inability or unwillingness to adjust to an obvious KU game plan. Monken has clearly indicated by his game plan that he doesn't think Walsh is as capable of running the offense as Lunt, so the whole QB controversy thing is done. Don't want to hear any more crap about that.
What happened at Iowa State last year could be attributed to events that were beyond their control. What happened in Lawrence can be attributed to preparation. "Championship" teams blow out these types of opponents, even if the game is competitive for the 1st half. Kansas State is a "championship" caliber team. The Cowboys are not, and in the end it is on the coaches to fix that.
This group is obviously younger than any of us can imagine. Two years of "Weeden" spoiled us. He was the patriarch, the commander in chief. Blackmon was the quiet general, setting the example by running around and over everyone in practice as if it was for the NC. Jones and Blatnick were the vocal generals. I, along with others at CRFF, have previously written that this exodus of what I consider to be the greatest group of "player" leaders to ever attend OSU would have a much larger impact on the team than the departure of talent, and I think that assessment is proving to be spot on. Somebody needs to grow up and step up, and maybe that doesn't happen this season. These things can't be forced, so we will have to be patient as this runs its course.
The offensive line got shoved around, much like the game at Iowa State last season. What the hell is that all about? I understand the Texas defense is not very good, but are you going to tell me that Kansas has better athletes? I would admit to better coaching than UT, but still, at some point, you would expect our talent, which is NOT generally poorly coached, to win the day. In general, the offense was flat, flat, flat. The weather had a little to do with it, but the worst of that was over after the first quarter. If the staff tried to make adjustments, it wasn't apparent to me. We continued to run the ball when it was obvious KU was willing to sell out to stop it. Never mind where was Jackson over the middle? Tracy Moore
? The Cowboys had success with Walsh passing short over the middle to both, and it was a nice move to shift Moore to inside to take advantage of mismatches against Texas
. Walsh continuously threw either wide or deep unsuccessfully. KU game planned well for the wide throws, and the deep stuff is an issue due to Walsh's accuracy (ie: if the receiver isn't wide open, the defender can make a play to break it up if the ball isn't put in the optimum place.)
In the end, it was a win, and now it's on to the next week. After all, the season is a series of one week playoffs, and the only really important thing is to keep winning. Style points don't count.
Iowa State will have OSU's full attention for homecoming. Let's hope everyone else on our schedule gets the same.