November 21, 2006

Bad day leads to bad grades for Cats

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Some games are worth forgetting. That is the only way to describe Kansas State's 39-20 loss at Kansas last Saturday, a performance that saw the Wildcats turn the ball over six times and all but hand a victory to their rivals.

Turnovers - three interceptions and three fumbles by freshman quarterback Josh Freeman - allowed Kansas to score an astonishing 30 points with 40 yards of offense. It proved to be a surefire path to defeat for Coach Ron Prince's Wildcats.

"I would like to think we can control (those turnovers), but I know tipped passes and those things occur. (It was) one of those games, that as coaches like to say, got legs. Once things started happening, we were going to have to grind our way through it," Prince said. "I thought our kids tried to do that, they tried to respond. The kickoff return was very significant to me because that showed the maturity of our team that we answered."

The kickoff return Prince mentioned came in the fourth quarter following a 42-yard interception return by KU's Anthony Webb off a ball tipped by running back Leon Patton. The Jayhawk touchdown put them up 30-13 with 10:38 remaining, but then James Johnson took the ensuing kickoff back 85 yards for a touchdown.

Those would prove to be K-State's final points of a long day at Memorial Stadium, a game that saw the Wildcats stumble in almost every pregame key to victory.


KEY 1: STOP KU'S GROUND GAME
Kansas running back Jon Cornish ran for a career-high 201 yards on 25 carries. Enough said.

"Obviously, too much Cornish," were Prince's first words to the media. "He's a terrific runner. We knew that coming into the game. We knew we'd have to control the ball and do some things to perhaps even get a lead in the game so they couldn't work us over with (Cornish) the rest of the day. Not only did we not do that, but we did all the things to magnify his ability and gave him extra possession after extra possession on turnovers."

Cornish's running was complemented by KU quarterback Kerry Meier's skill on the zone read option handoff KU uses. It all proved to be too much for the Wildcats to handle.

STOP KU'S GROUND GAME GRADE: F


KEY 2: GET PHYSICAL
Bye weeks can and cannot help teams. Early in the game it was obvious that KU's bye week benefited the Jayhawks, who look like the fresher and less beaten-up team.

"It was a very physical game, but they all are this time of the year and everybody has these circumstances they're working through and this is part of being able to win a championship," Prince said.

K-State too often got beat up front on both sides of the ball, which was not a good sign.

GET PHYSICAL GRADE: D

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