October 24, 2006

Analysis: Ground game offers bright spot

Momentum, if not a much closer game and possibly victory, was one yard away. It was the second quarter of Kansas State's game with the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field last Saturday and the Wildcats were three feet separated from a 14-3 lead and maybe much more.

The Missouri defense held, though, and the Wildcats were denied the larger lead. Instead, Mizzou responded with a 99-yard drive to take a 10-7 advantage and then quickly backed it up with an 87-yard touchdown drive. Then came a series of turnovers to open the second half as the Tigers walked away with a comfortable 41-21 victory.

Oh, what could have been.

"When it comes to momentum, we had the chance to increase our points from seven to fourteen when we had the ball on the 1-yard line," K-State coach Ron Prince said. "If you're ever going to compete for championships, you have to be able to go on the road and run the football, and convert those situations. As long as I'm the coach of this team, we're going to treat these situations we're going to continue to try and be rugged. I'm not relenting on that.

"If it was later in the game and two points would win the game for you, we would have kicked a field goal, but I wanted to send the proper message to this team about how we're going to do things. We ran it and we didn't get in, so that was a big moment in the game and it obviously took a lot of air out of our team, on offense and defense."

One question was certainly to kick the field goal or not, but another was the choice to hand off to a running back going between the tackles yet again, a play that has failed far more than succeeded on short-yardage situations for the Wildcats.

More than that, the K-State defense came on the field and looked as if some of its spark had been stolen. Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, who had fumbled on the first play of the game to give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead, led the Tigers down the field not only into the end zone, but also to control of the game's momentum.

"We had them backed up ninety-nine and a half yards and we were supposed to see that as an opportunity and we did not see that as an opportunity," Prince added. "No question that was the critical moment of the game, my thought was that to go up 14-3 at that point in the game, would be critical for us, given confidence to this young team on the road. You could see that they could score points and we knew that. So that was a major issue."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!