More than 24 hours have passed since TCU defeated Kansas State 41-20 on Saturday in Fort Worth.
Three lingering thoughts from the game:
1. The season is not over for K-State.
The Wildcats can all but certainly kiss their playoff chances goodbye. Even if they win their remaining three games, it’s unlikely they finish in the top four. But that’s the only significant motivation K-State lost over the weekend. It is still tied with TCU and Baylor for first place in the Big 12 standings (all three teams have one league loss) and it can assure itself of a co-championship (despite the conference’s “one true champion” slogan) by beating West Virginia, Kansas and Baylor.
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“It’s tough anytime you lose, but where we were at and where we wanted to go makes it tough,” quarterback Jake Waters said. “But we are still tied for first in the Big 12 and have so much to play for. This is our last time playing together these last three or four games. If you can’t give it your all and play your heart out for your teammates and your coaches you are in the wrong sport. We are going to come back and work hard.”
They will also be playing for bowl position every step of the way.
“We still understand we have a lot to play for,” receiver Tyler Lockett said.
A postgame speech from K-State coach Bill Snyder, who said “I think we will respond fine” kept those spirits high.
“He told us, ‘Don’t let this change who you are. Don’t less this change who we are. Don’t let this change what we want to accomplish,’” receiver Curry Sexton said. “That really hit home with me, because at that point in time you are really struggling to see any postitivity after a game like that.”
2. Jake Waters hardly ran the ball.
K-State’s quarterback was ineffective running the ball, gaining two yards on seven rushes. There are several factors that go into that stat line, including ferocious pressure from TCU’s defensive line (that eliminated K-State’s entire running game) and the Wildcats playing from behind and throwing 40 passes.
But Snyder had an interesting response when asked if K-State was hesitant to use Waters in the running game from the get-go.
“I’m not going to answer your question,” Snyder said. “I appreciate you asking it, but you can appreciate me not answering, too.”
Waters has been playing through a shoulder injury since the Oklahoma game, and his carries have dropped sharply since then. Waters averaged 13.1 rushes in K-State’s first six games, but has averaged 7.6 carries since.
Waters downplayed the drop in carries.
“I just do whatever they ask me to do,” Waters said. “If that wasn’t really rolling that way tonight, I guess I’m never one to question what we do because it works. Tonight it didn’t. We had opportunities to make plays, we just didn’t execute.”
3. K-State’s offense “panicked” when it fell behind by two scores.
The Wildcats are a run-first team that enters every game hoping to win time of possession. So it was difficult for them to fight back from an early 14-0 deficit and a 24-7 hole in the third quarter.
K-State completely abandoned its running game (throwing the ball 40 times compared to 19 rushes) and turned into a one-dimensional offense. Snyder regularly preaches the importance of a balanced offense, and this game was a good example why. He blamed himself for not running the ball early. Players blamed themselves.
“We panicked a little getting down the way we did, especially early in the second half when they drive down and score,” Sexton said. “We can’t do that. We have got to be able to play from behind, because you never know when you are going to have to.”
Added Waters: “They have a great front four and their linebackers are big, physical and fast. They were keying on our run game and daring us to pass a little bit. They didn’t show us anything that we didn’t see going in. They were just a lot better than we were.”