As a nearly two touchdown underdog, the Kansas State Wildcats really weren’t supposed to even hang around with a highly-talented Missouri Tiger team on Saturday. The Wildcat defense had been torched all season by big-play offenses from Nebraska to Baylor to Oklahoma State, and this Tiger offense was no different. To Kansas State’s credit, they in fact, did hang around with the Tigers, falling 38-28, dropping to 3-4 in the Big 12 and 6-4 overall. For the Wildcats, this became a game of missed opportunities and mental blunders, both from a player as well as a coaching perspective.
Kansas State Head Coach Bill Snyder started the game with his senior quarterback, Carson Coffman, who was coming off an ankle injury that kept him out of last week’s game against Texas. Coffman clearly wasn’t effective in either of his two series and was replaced by sophomore Collin Klein, who proceeded to pick up right where he left off last week by running right at the Missouri D-line and was successful throughout the day. Klein finished the game running for 141 yards on 18 carries as the Wildcats went toe-to-toe with Missouri in the first half. Trailing 21-14 late in the second period, Klein once again led the Wildcats towards a game-tying touchdown, but was replaced by Coffman when it looked like there wasn’t going to be enough time to get any points if they continued to just run the ball. Coffman did make a couple of clutch completions and got the Wildcats down to the 1-yard line with under 30 seconds to play. Yet with a first and goal at the one, Snyder mysteriously left Coffman in the game, rather than put Klein back in for what should have been an obvious quarterback sneak play. Klein had earlier run a sneak on a fourth and one to keep a touchdown drive alive, so it seemed it would be safe to try that again. But it was Coffman who stayed in on the play and who then fumbled the center/quarterback exchange. Missouri recovered and the halftime score remained 21-14 and for the most part, killed any momentum the Wildcats had built up in the first half.
For the day, the Wildcats committed four turnovers which led to 10 Tiger points. None bigger than with 5:34 left in the third quarter, Coffman was blindsided by Tiger DE Aldon Smith due to extremely poor blocking by the Wildcat offensive line. Coffman fumbled and the ball was picked up by Missouri’s Jacquies Smith for a 53-yard touchdown, putting the Tigers up 28-14. Coffman later threw an interception in the fourth quarter, but did hit WR Aubrey Quarles for a 26-yard touchdown pass with just a little over a minute left in the game. Earlier in the period, Klein threw his first touchdown pass of his career, connecting with WR Adrian Hilburn for 35 yards.
Nonetheless, the Wildcats were playing catch-up throughout the game, and couldn’t capitalize on the opportunities they had. This one is going to sting for a while in Wildcat Nation, watching their team roll up over 420 yards of total offense against a superior team in a hostile environment. But the turnovers were killers, and Snyder’s quarterback substitutions, while effective at times, proved costly. This was especially costly when he chose not to replace Coffman with Klein right before halftime. But based on the coach’s post-game comments, look for more of the same next week against Colorado.
About the Author
Written by Chad Craghead
A 1988 graduate from Wichita State University, Chad has followed WSU as well as Kansas State athletics for over 30 years, along with being a lifelong Boston Red Sox and L.A./St. Louis Rams fan.