When you can run for 300+ yards, five touchdowns, and have six yards per carry - you’re gonna win a bunch of ballgames. This was a game that at no point should you have worried about the outcome, and that’s massive progress. I’ll admit, the special teams were anything but special - but I’d rather keep things positive today. Let’s get into the specifics below.
Nik Shimonek - Solid, but not spectacular. Which, I think was the game plan entering this week. After being dominated in the trenches against OSU, it was obviously that Kingsbury wanted to get after it on the ground today. Due to that, you weren’t going to see much from Shimonek. Although, his pass to Coutee was a thing of beauty.
Keke Coutee - Given that he was a little bit hobbled, it’s insane to consider he made mush of a Big 12 defense. It didn’t seem like he exerted himself much, or re-injured anything, which is huge for West Virginia next week. We’ll need Coutee healthy the rest of the season.
Desmond Nisby - Have yourself a ballgame sir! I have to credit Nisby for being unstoppable all day, and playing easily his best game as a Red Raider. That long TD run also showed he’s got a little burst! Maybe we’re seeing Kinsbury trust the big guy a bit more, because there was the one stretch in which he got the rock on four consecutive plays. LOVE that. Hopefully, he can build on this performance. (Oh, and that dropping of the ball near the endzone. That’s GOT to stop.)
Justin Stockton - The fumble was ugly, but otherwise, he played one of his best games as a Red Raider. He didn’t run hesitant, and ripped off tons of huge gamebreaking plays. His 60+ yarder also thwarted any momentum that Kansas might’ve had going. I’ll admit I was skeptical of Stockton entering the season, but he’s playing up to his talents finally.
Quan Shorts - He got a surprise start for Derrick Willies, and he made several fantastic plays. I swear he also moves like Michael Crabtree...but that’s for another day. I’ll be curious to see what Kingsbury does moving forward, but given that Quan is a Sophomore and we graduate almost all of our starting receivers....I don’t hate Shorts getting the work.
Justus Parker - I loved this guy in Spring Ball, but he hasn’t flashed much this season. Boy, did he show up today though! He’s got a little bit of swagger too as well, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. He’ll be a key player if Douglas Coleman is out for any long period of time.
Special Teams - We gotta find a kicker. I counted three or four kicks out of bonds, the missed field goal, and that blocked punt. I did like Batson as a return man though on kickoffs, and it’s a great way to get his 4.3 speed in space. Even when Coutee is fully healthy, I vote we keep Batson in this role. Regardless, this group is too inconsistent and can lose this team a ballgame if they don’t get it together.
Interior Defensive Line - Mych Thomas is working his way into Big 12 All-Conference conversations, and Broderick Washington isn’t just flashing - he’s flat good now. I’d say their progress has been a welcome surprise after the Fehoko family debacle. Enjoy this pair while you can.
The Secondary - The INTs/Fumbles were great, but we got beat on several plays over the top. Thankfully, we played Kansas and they couldn’t take advantage. Desmond Smith continues to thrive though, and his ability to tackle at corner is unique. Jah'Shawn Johnson also had an great game, and he was close to make several interceptions.
Eli Howard - I haven’t counted the number of times this season, but Howard is always deflecting passes. I counted three situations in this game, during which his arm got in the passing lane, and two of those plays lead to turnovers. I have to believe this is David Gibbs teaching this group how to wreak havoc and it’s notable as we near the mid-way point of the season.
Kolin Hill - It’s becoming obvious to me that Hill isn’t necessarily a starter, but he’s a more than serviceable backup who can flash at key times. He had a great sack, and managed to make several plays in the run game. I was worried he wasn’t going to pan out, but I’m now confident that he has his place.
Coaching - I’ll credit the staff with getting this group amped to start the game. We’ve now had key wins over Kansas and Houston for 11am starts. The next big step is to win on the road at West Virginia. I think this team is more than capable of winning that game, but the staff will need to get this team ready once again.
Derrick Willies - He sure didn’t seem excited after that touchdown, and seemed visibly bothered on the sideline. I even noticed that Rusty Whitt came and sat with him while on camera - that’s weird. I hate to see a guy with as much talent as Willies get down on himself, but it’s worth tracking the rest of the way.
Replay People - This killed the pace of play, and would’ve infuriated me had I been at the game in person. I can’t get too upset though, because we were the benefactor on 80% of those reviews. Still, this was an annoying aspect to the game.
It’s wild to think that Vegas had this game as a 14 point line, because it was apparent early on that we were going to roll Kansas. I’ll be curious to see what happens prior to the West Virginia game, because Tony Gibson, the Defensive Coordinator for WVU, tends to gameplan around Kingsbury very well. Should our defense stop the run, and our offensive line continue to progress, I do like our odds to win. Enjoy this against Kansas though, we don’t get to win by 40+ often.