There are three different aspects of a football team. You have the offense, the defense, and coaching. When one or more of those aspects isn't functioning properly it makes it extremely difficult to win a game. When all three aspects aren't working properly then you have a disaster on your hands. That's the position we found the Sooners in on Saturday.
The Kansas State defense put points on the board for themselves and took points off the board for Oklahoma with their two interceptions. The decision by Trevor Knight to throw the out from his own goal line still baffles me. Coach Stoops said after the game, and then again on Monday, that it was a run/pass option where Knight has to make a decision based on the alignment of the defense. Here's what he saw pre-snap.
He reads soft coverage, with a safety over the top, but apparently what he failed to notice was Danzel McDaniel creeping forward towards the line of scrimmage. Here's the play in full.
McDaniel never even looks at Durron Neal (who ran a horrible route BTW) because he's locked in on Knight's eyes, which are locked in on Neal. This was a horrible decision by Knight because the safety was up high which means that the corner could just sit low. While Knight should shoulder some of the blame for this play, it should also be asked why it was even called? If you're going to run a route then give a double move where Neal goes down field and most likely gets single coverage with the safety. As it stands though, I still don't get why a quarterback who had thrown five picks coming into the game was given this option at the goal line.
I don't necessarily have a problem with the play call on Durron Neal's reverse pass but I also won't debate those that do. The Sooners had moved the ball pretty well on the drive without being tricky but I still don't have a problem with the decision to call the play. My problem was Neal's decision to throw the ball into coverage. It's one thing throwing to a wide open Trevor Knight in Morgantown but Kansas State didn't bite and there was no room for a pass. Neal should have chucked the ball into the stands or tried to make the most of the reverse by using his feet. Oklahoma just flat gave points away on this play and keep in mind that this drive was in response to Kansas State taking a 31-24 lead.
There's no excusing Michael Hunnicutt. He's a great kid who has meant a lot to this university and the football program. He's well liked on his team and has been an intricate part of it's success. That said, his mistakes were costly on Saturday. Be it bad form or bad luck, he missed a crucial field goal at the end of the first half and an even more crucial one late in the fourth quarter. There's no way to defend leaving six points on the field. Even so, I'd still trust him to make a kick, with the game on the line, any day of the week.
The blocked extra point is a completely different story. That mistake is on the line and not the kicker. Travis Britz is a kick blocking specialist who led the nation in the category last season. Help me understand how he was able to get skinny against Oklahoma's line and block the kick?
"We have a lineman inside that doesn't protect," Stoops said on Monday when asked about the play. That's exactly how it happened and I still don't get it. You're supposed to know about guys like Britz and what they're capable of.
Ultimately this game came down to one factor. Kansas State made plays when Oklahoma couldn't. The blocked PAT and the interceptions are all plays that the Wildcats made in crucial moments of the game. On the flip-side, the Sooners couldn't come through in those situations.
Once again we found this team needing to pick up short yardage late in the fourth quarter, with the game on the line, and they failed. You can blame execution or you could blame coaching (OU had run a QB sneak from the I-Formation in the same drive) but at the end of the day it was K-State that made the play to bring down Samaje Perine.
For all the good that the defense did in the second half they couldn't get the ball back one more final time. The Wildcats took over with 3:53 remaining in the fourth following the missed 19-yard field goal attempt. The converted on third and three from their own 27 and then had a nine yard run on second and seven from their own 36. Again we could pinpoint poor execution or poor coaching (Curry Sexton was wide open for a 6-yard gain on third and three because of soft coverage) but the reality is that Kansas State beat Oklahoma because they just made more plays than the Sooners did.