Mission accomplished … sort of.
Kansas State began the fall season back on Sept. 4, with the hopes of doing better than the year before, which would equal postseason play. Well, the Wildcats did improve from 6-6 to 7-5, and will be a part of postseason play for the first time since 2006.
Taking a bit of luster off that accomplishment, however, is how the 'Cats limped to the finish line with a 2-4 record in the second half of the season, and, the fact that of the seven victories, only one – vs. 8-3 Central Florida – came against a team that finished at .500 or above.
The other wins came against six teams that went a collective 20 games below .500 – 25-45. So, how does one put a grade on such a season? Let's try.
That's an "A" for the rushing game, and a "C" for the passing game.
Daniel Thomas racked up 1,495 rushing yards this season, which ranks third high for a single season in K-State history.
Throw in a quarterback run game, and the ‘Cats netted just a stride or two shy of 200 rushing yards per game, which ranked third in the Big 12 and among the top 25 in the nation.
Overall, the 37 rushing TDs K-State scored was by far highest in the Big 12.
Through the air, the Wildcats had a middle of the road passing game by Big 12 standards when it came to yardage, but interesting enough, the efficiency rating of Carson Coffman and Collin Klein ranked in the top one-third of the league.
While the number of passing TDs ranked low in the league, the 'Cats averaged over eight yards per passing attempt, which was second only to Oklahoma State.
Overall, K-State averaged in the mid-30s and 380-plus yards on offense, but again, by Big 12 standards, those are mid-range numbers, at best.
Any perceived strides K-State made defensively early in the year were zapped in the final five games of the season when teams hung 47, 24, 38, 44 and 41 points on the Wildcats. One could credit Big 12 offenses for such numbers, but how about lowly North Texas belting the Purples for 41 points, 298 rushing yards and another 161 through the air this past week.
"We didn't tackle anyone," Snyder summarized, repeating the phrase multiple times. It was a game where the Mean Green scored on TD runs of 52, 63 and 36 yards, which has been the Wildcat nemesis for the majority of the season.
That's giving up the big-big plays … like 36 plays of at least 30 yards this season, not to mention 39 more of at least 20 yards.
K-State was dreadful against the run ranking 118th in the nation giving up nearly 230 yards per game, while playing decent against the pass.
But, was that because teams didn't have to pass?
When a team gives up over 440 yards per game, and allows right at 30 points per game, one wonders how K-State ended up a seven-game winner.
Oh yes, K-State was also near the bottom of the league in the big plays of sacks and tackles for losses.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B
William Powell, and the K-State team, led the nation in kickoff returns to highlight the special teams play for the year.
Ryan Doerr was a more than respectable punter as the Wildcats' team average was over 40 yards to rank third in the league, and Josh Cherry was true on all but one of his field goal tries, but those were modest numbers of 7-of-8.
And, never forget the A+ work of Corey Adams, who completed his season, and career, with 100 percent long snapping on punts and kicks. Adams may just be the Wildcat missed most in 2011.
Wildcat punt returners caught the ball flawlessly, but lacked the big-play return averaging just 8.5 yards per return. Only one return went for more than 20 yards.
What was lacking this season in special teams play were the number blocked kicks Wildcat fans have become accustomed to.
OVERALL FOR 2010: B
A boring grade, yes, but to a certain degree so was the win-loss portion of the season.
The ‘Cats had one somewhat significant win against an eight-win Central Florida team, but no others against a team that will be bowling. K-State did defeat Kansas, and even Texas, but a lot of teams can say that.
The Wildcats played poorly down the stretch, again. In the last four years, K-State has gone just 4-11 in the month of November.
They are also four years when K-State has gone a collective 23-25 for the year. But the fact is, K-State did improve from six to seven wins, and, it did improve from no postseason play in 2009 to going bowling in 2010.