The defense played great. They played their best game of the year. And they didn't let up the whole game. They made some spectacular plays to keep KSU from scoring, they didn't bog down when the offense stalled or turned the ball over, they played with great intensity. I am so proud of their effort and the results.
The offense did a better job of moving the ball. Shawn Bell threw some deep passes, and even though he only really got a couple "deep" balls to connect, I think his biggest improvement was doing a better job of leading his receivers to allow them yards after catch. He still has a lot of improvement in that area, as far as consistently getting the ball in stride, but he was better than previous games.
And man, that deep ball to Shelton was beautiful.
Some concerns, though:
- We only had 13 first downs in the game.
- We averaged less than a yard rushing (18 yards on 19 carries)
- We averaged less than 6.2 yards per attempt (6.13/attempt)
- We allowed 13.5 yards per completion, including 17 yards per completion to Freeman
- Special Teams (missed FG, two lost punt returns)
Some good things:
- Averaged over 11 yards per completion
- Only allowed 12 first downs to KSU, including only 5 in the second half
- Allowed only 2.1 yards per attempt rushing, and 45 yards total
- Special Teams Punt Coverage (1.7 yards per return! GREAT!)
- Sepulveda - 9 punts, 52.1 yards per punt; 51.0 net punt average = Ray Guy Award
- Forced 5 turnovers
I like that Zeigler, Parks and Shelton were the main targets in the offense. I said a few weeks back that while it's nice to spread the ball around (8 players caught passes), we need to get the ball in the hands of our playmakers. Zeigler led the team with 8 catches and Parks had 7 catches. I like that Shelton got the long pass, but I would have liked to see him get a few more catches in the mid-range areas (12-18 yards).
On defense, I liked the fact that we have 6 players with 5 or more tackles. Joe Pawelek is really coming into his own at the linebacker spot and Maurice Linquist has been super-productive from his outside safety spot, especially in the last three games (27 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 FF, 1 INT), and has been the leading tackler in each of those games.
CJ Wilson was thrown on a few times, and while he didn't record an interception, he broke up two passes, and had two tackles. It seems that teams are going to be very selective about throwing on him, which I think is smart. He'll have to work harder to get his interceptions, but he's shutting down part of the field and opening up opportunities for other players like Arline and Crawford.
Teasley has to hold onto the ball. I say give Shelton a chance to return some punts, he's got the speed and the moves to be successful there. We need to do something to stop killing ourselves on the punt return team.
All in all, it was a good game, a good win and a good step into conference play. We need to go up to Colorado and get our third consecutive conference win, and get to .500 on the year and we'll be much closer to a bowl game than we were on Friday. This team can do it, and Colorado is as good a team as Kansas State for getting a healthier record. The defense will need to come up big again, and the offense will have to continue to take steps forward, but the optimism is seeping back in, and if we can go 1-1 or 2-0 in the next two road games, we will have a rocking house for the Homecoming game against Kansas, another very winnable game.