Grading the Cats

The Wildcats continue to get closer to their 2002-03 form with a drubbing of their in-state rival.

The 101st Sunflower Showdown was nothing more than the 11th-straight drubbing of Kansas, as Kansas State rolled to a 42-6 win in Manhattan.

Quarterback: B
Ell Roberson threw for just 138 yards on only 10-of-19 passing, but didn't throw an interception for the second straight game. He was only sacked once, and did run for 103 yards and two touchdownw, but struggled with the blustery wind. A more balanced attack will be needed against Nebraska in three weeks.

Running Backs: A-
Darren Sproles broke K-State's all-time rushing record on a 12-yard run in the second quarter, and finished with 98 yards on 19 carries. Danny Morris also showed he can be a capable backup, gaining 30 yards on just six carries. As a team, K-State gained 257 yards on the ground and had four touchdowns, averaging more than five yards a pop.

Receivers: C+
Where oh where did James Terry go? K-State's leading receiver had just one catch for five yards, and several poorly run routes resulted in gross misthrows. Roberson did spread the ball to six different receivers, and Antoine Polite had four catches for 45 yards, but the inconsistency in K-State's passing game is becoming apparent.

Offensive Line: A-
The line came through for K-State, giving up just one sack and giving Roberson plenty of time to the throw the football. They also paved the way for seven different running backs to combine for over 250 yards on the ground. According to center Nick Leckey, it was their best combined effort of the season.

K-State managed to put up 42 points, but that was largely due to good field position. Few sustained drives and a lack of big plays to spark the offense resulted in just 395 yards of total offense. Two tune-up games against Baylor and Iowa State may be what the offense needs to get jump started.

Defensive Line: A-
K-State sacked backup quarterback John Nielsen twice and got several knockdowns against both Nielsen and starter Bill Whittemore. The pressure resulted in just 71 yards of passing offense, and bottling up the running game allowed the Jayhawks just 89 yards on the ground.

Linebackers: A-
Josh Buhl led K-State yet again in tackles, recording nine of them, and Ted Sims and Bryan Hickman combined for eight more. It was a concentrated effort both on stopping the run and the the pass that led to the Cats' success.

In the defensive backfield's best performance of the year, they shut down a backup quarterback and a receiving corps that had been highly touted. Rashad Washington recovered a fumble from his safety position and cornerback Randy Jordan had a picture-pefect interception to spark the secondary to its best performance.

In a nearly perfect game, the defense allowed just six points on two field goals, but one wonders what would have happened at Whittemore been in the game. Regardless, defensive end Andrew Shull said it was the D's best performance, and it'd be hard to argue.

Special Teams: B-
Darren Sproles was named the Big 12 special teams Player of the Week Monday for his 63-yard punt return to give K-State a 28-3 halftime advantage, but several poor kickoffs by Jared Brite -- a popup and a squibb that hit an upman -- gave the Jayhawks too good of field position. Joe Rheem also missed a 52-yard field goal wide left, despite knocking through all six PATs. The kickin game must improve.

They're getting closer, but they're not there yet. Give the Cats two weeks against lowly Baylor and Iowa State to fine-tune for a Big 12 North championship game in Lincoln.

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