We ran for close to 200 yards, we threw for over 300, our defense held WVU to under 50 yards rushing: but we lost. It’s inexcusable to have close to 200 yards in penalties, miss three field goals, and go 3-and-out on several drives in a row when we needed to at least flip the field. What happened though? We blew it, and we blew this one in every conceivable way. You can’t be winning by 18 points in the second half, to then find a way to lose by double digits.
This will be brief on player highlights, because there’s no a ton of positives. But, I’ll dish out credit where it’s due.
Michael Barden - I hope he’s kicked his last ball for the Red Raiders. Missing the kick from point blank range killed this team. I feel like maybe we should’ve gone for it, but to be up 14 at half on the road was more valuable in my eyes. Meanwhile, Barden didn’t do his job. He had a kick from 37 yards, middle of the field, missed it bad. His first kick was actually tough, but who knew that it was going to spiral into what happened? It’s clear this guy doesn’t have the mental fortitude to be a player for this team going forward. I hate being critical, and piling on - but his lack of execution lost us the game. Period.
Nik Shimonek - Great start, but terrible finish. You’re a 5th-year senior who’s waited for this opportunity to be greater than your predecessors. Games like this aren’t what get you remembered...these are games you look back on and wonder what could’ve been. Despite his shortcomings in the second half, he still had a chance to win the game for this team on multiple occasions but missed the throws. It’ll be vital that he gets it together by Iowa State.
Justin Stockton and Tre King - I want to apologize to these guys. They played their hearts out, made key plays, and deserved to win the game. It’s a disappointment that we wasted such a special performance from these two.
TJ Vasher - Great flashes in the first half, and better than advertised speed. We’ll see if he can build off this performance because he’ll be a vital player for this squad in 2018 and beyond.
Eli Howard - Tremendous first half, was regularly double/triple teamed in the second half. He’s playing his way into an All-Conference type of discussion and we’re lucky to have him for a few more years. I absolutely love this guy.
The Defensive Backs - They caught a few bad breaks on the Pass Interference calls, but they deserved their fair share of the calls too. Desmond Smith is likely my favorite guy back there now, and he’s strung together several great performances now. I’d say it was a plenty rough day for Dorsey, Parker, Skykes (besides the sack), and Fields. I knew these guys were going to be isolated in coverage, but they didn’t win their fair share of balls and it costs the team in the second half.
Defensive Tackles - Outstanding game for Mych Thomas and Broderick Washington. Sacks, tackles for loss, being immovable objects, and creating plays in the middle. They’re your best position group on this team.
Coaching - Kliff got whipped by Dana in this one. I’d say Kingsbury’s second half decision making killed this group. He gets paid $3 million/year to make hard calls, and he looked like he didn’t know what to do with a lead. I felt like he was progressing as a coach this year, but today was rough and a setback.
Joe Robinson - Might need to move on from our Special Teams coach. You’re not returning kicks well, or punts for that matter. Your kicking game lost you a road Big 12 matchup that you should’ve won, and your punter is below average too. I’m not entirely sure what the contract situation is, but I think we need to make the call on this quickly. Hate to say this, but it is what it is.
Comments: This game really bothers me, and it’s going to stick with me for awhile I speculate. I didn’t see any scenarios that we lost this game once we were up by 18 and playing spectacular run defense. We’ll see how this group bounces back against Iowa State, and I’ll be VERY interested to see what sort of punishments are doled out. At the end of the day, I put this one on the coaches and our kicker. So, I hope Kliff reacts accordingly. Running your players into the ground might lose the group after the coaching gaffes we all witnessed today. ‘
Nevertheless, Wreck ‘Em. We gotta hold our heads high and whoop the Cyclones now.