Grading the Wildcats: Game 4

2 Oct

Even after a big win at Miami, people doubted Kansas State's defense. After containing the nation's No. 2 offense, they shouldn't be skeptical anymore. (Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)

The Wildcats may not have 4- of 5-star recruits, but they have heart. I think that’s the only conclusion to which one can come after watching Kansas State surmount deficits week after week – most recently a 9-point fourth quarter hole against Baylor – to go 4-0 to start the season. Here’s my evaluation of the different units in Saturday’s game.

Offense: B+

Collin Klein is not Robert Griffin III, but he had another solid, gritty performance on Saturday, and once again, his team won. He completed 13 of 28 passes – slightly under 50 percent – for 146 yards and threw one interception, but his north-and-south running netted the Wildcats another 113 yards. Running backs John Hubert and Angelo Pease did not gain 100 yards combined, but they complemented each other well and each had a long run and a touchdown. Klein utilized Hubert as a receiver as well as a runner, but he also involved wide receiver Chris Harper and tight end Andre McDonald.

While totaling 356 yards of offense, Kansas State kept Baylor’s offense off the field for 38 minutes and 47 seconds. That did not make the defense’s job easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it helped.

Of course, the Wildcats did not punch the ball in the way they should have, settling for two field goals in the first half. If they can put it in the end zone in those situations, it’s 21-7 going into the second quarter instead of 13-7.

All in all, the team did what it could do – not necessarily to the very best of its abilities, but it moved the ball in a steady, workmanlike manner and got the job done.

Defense: B+

Kansas State gave up numerous big plays to Baylor, who scored touchdowns on a 43-yard pass, 42-yard pass, 35-yard pass and 34-yard pass from Griffin throughout the game. The secondary got outrun on too many occasions than is normally workable. However, the defense also sacked Griffin five times and forced him into eight incompletions and an interception. That interception was just one of the Bear’s three turnovers – the Wildcats also recovered two fumbles by Baylor. They held the Bears’ prolific offense to only 429 yards … a massive improvement from the 638 yards the Wildcats allowed Baylor last season.

There have been skeptics of the Kansas State defense … after the first two games, even after the Miami game. I don’t know how skeptical people can be now, though.

Special Teams: C+

The special teams unit got off to a great start by forcing Baylor to fumble on a kickoff return. However, it waffled throughout the game. Kicker Anthony Cantele made three field goals, including the game-winner. On the other hand, Baylor had decent-to-good field possession on several occasions, including once after Kansas State allowed a 42-yard return.

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