Guggisberg: Wildcats still need work on defense

By Grant Guggisberg

Offensively, Kansas State looked like a Top-10 team dismantling an inferior opponent from start to finish on Saturday.

The Wildcat defense? Not so much. It didn’t show up until the third quarter.

Any fears that I would be the only guy with gripes after a 40-point win in a rivalry game were quashed by head coach Bill Snyder immediately after the game.

“I don’t think we dominated anybody,” he said. “We had a lot more points, but we certainly didn’t dominate the ballgame, and the first half was evidence of that. They’ve got (388) yards of total offense.

“That’s not domination.”

K-State gave up only 14 points in the opening half. That’s not a great performance, but not horrible either. What bugged me, and perhaps Snyder as well, was the manner in which quarterback Dayne Crist and the KU offense cruised down the field on both scoring drives. They picked on K-State’s secondary, which has gotten better thanks to an improved pass rush, but still gives up plenty of easy receptions to — let’s be honest — some sub-par passing teams.

Sure, Kansas pulled out all the stops with a fake punt and a fake field goal on the same drive, but both drives were more than 10 plays and went for at least 70 yards. There were no breakaway touchdowns here, just methodical drives that made Weis and the Jayhawks look like they were on equal footing with K-State.

The mirage didn’t last, however.

Snyder’s message at halftime was to execute, which didn’t take long to see fruition.

K-State looked like a new team in the third quarter, playing up to its potential in all facets of the game, especially defense. They came out on a mission after halftime, producing an interception and two fumbles as K-State outscored KU 28-2 to put the game away.

It’s probably worth noting that even if the Jayhawk offense had continued to score, Collin Klein and John Hubert could have won in a shootout.

They often went untouched into the end zone on multiple big plays, seemingly scoring at will until calling off the dogs in the fourth quarter.

Snyder was pleased with the way his defense rebounded in the second half, not only for the outcome of the game but for what it says about his team.

“You’d like to think that it means that you’re a lot better football team than what you proved in the first half,” he said, “and that we need to learn to grow up and play that way, and coach that way.”

As the final score suggests, the takeaway from K-State’s dominating win over Kansas was the Jayhawks lack the on-field talent to challenge a highly-ranked and veteran squad like K-State.

At least for two halves, anyway.

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