Monday Morning Report Card

With so many questions going into this game, and so many clouds hanging over the Wildcat football program, coach Ron Prince called upon a freshman to lead his team to a victory. Quarterback Josh Freeman responded by managing the game early on, and becoming the hero when he was needed most.

The Wildcats were down and out, but Freeman showed everyone that he can be a great quarterback at this level, and he led his team to an incredible come-from-behind victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-2 overall, 0-1 Big 12 Conference)
With the win, K-State now sits at 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the conference. Now the Wildcats dreams of reaching that six-win plateau to qualify for a bowl game are still within their grasp.

Player of the game on offense –
Quarterback Josh Freeman
What can you say about this young kid? He was simply amazing in the fourth quarter. He completed six consecutive passes on his final two drives, while leading his team to a surreal 10-point come-from-behind victory. He was harrassed in he pocket for most of those passes and had to roll out until he could find an open receiver. And then, with his team down by three points and the ball on the 21-yard line, he decided to run on a called pass play. He ran straight through the Cowboy defense and into the end zone, while winning the trust of most of the 46,616 fans in attendance. Everyone better believe that this kid is the real deal, and he is here to stay for awhile.
I'm not sold on him yet, but I am definitely impressed with what he can do if given time in the pocket.

Player of the game on defense –
Safety Marcus Watts
There was only one turnover between the two teams Saturday. It just so happened to be the most crucial. With K-State leading 31-27 and Oklahoma State driving down the field for the potential go-ahead score, the Cowboys had time for just one last play. The play started from the Wildcat 23-yard line. Quarterback Bobby Reid dropped back to pass, and he floated a hail mary into the end zone toward his receiver, Adarius Bowman. Bowman had his hands on the ball, but it was ripped away by Watts and intercepted, ending the game and preserving the victory for the Wildcats.
Just four plays prior to that, Reid again found Bowman streaking towards the end zone, but this time he was wide open. Bowman caught the ball on the goal line, but he was drilled by Watts, causing him to drop the ball for an incompletion.
This was just an example of how important Watts was for his team. He had four tackles and a pass breakup, but he helped his team on special teams as well.
Nearly four minutes into the second quarter, and with the game scoreless, Watts blocked a punt by Matt Fodge. Wildcat receiver Daniel Gonzalez scooped up the loose ball at the Cowboy 21-yard line, and he sscampered into the end zone.
Watts hurt his right hand after blocking the kick and had to miss the rest of the first half. He got wrapped, and he came out in the second half to be the team's Most Valuable Player.
Linebacker Zach Diles and cornerback Byron Garvin receive honorable mentions for this award. Diles had his best game of the season, leading the team in tackles with 11. Garvin simply shut down the big-play receivers of the Cowboys. He covered Adarius Bowman for most of the game, and made sure he didn't have a game-changing play.
Bowman usually lined up in the slot, and Garvin would play man coverage on him. Bowman and fellow receiver D'Juan Woods combined for seven receptions and 78 yards. Bowman himself was averaging 96 yards per game coming into Saturday's matchup with the Wildcats. Garvin also was second on the team with nine total tackles.

Surprise Contributor –
Running back Leon Patton
I did not see this coming. Patton definitely surprised me, and probably the rest of the Wildcat nation as he racked up 301 all-purpose yards, tying him for fifth on the all-time list. He scored a one-yard rushing touchdown to cap off the 92-yard drive last in the fourth quarter.

More impressive was his 95-yard kick return. He ran behind the wall of blockers, and burst through when a hole was formed. Two Cowboy defenders got ahold of him as he tried to get through, one at his shoulder pads and one at his feet, but he eluded both of them and broke away down the left sideline. He outran everyone until the rest of his team caught up with him to celebrate his tremendous run.

Not only did he have a ton of yards in the game, but he did it with style, and finesse. He juked defenders when he needed to, and he followed his blockers until a hole opened up for him.

Just like Freeman, I'm not sold yet because it was only one game, but I am definitely impressed.

Play of the game –
Freeman's 21-yard touchdown run with 1:11 remaining in the game

The call was for a pass play, but Freeman saw a huge hole in the defense and took off. The score put his team up by four, and helped provide the first-time starter with a story book ending.

Offensive Grade – B-

I have been blowing up Freeman for awhile now, but I can't give the offense any more than a B-. Yes he threw for 177 yards, but he was sacked three times. The offensive line was horrible Saturday, proving again that the unit will probably have trouble pass protecting for the rest of the season.
If running back Thomas Clayton would have been in the backfield, then the story of the game might be a little different. Leon Patton amazed everyone with his abilities, and he and Freeman are the sole reasons why K-State is breathing a proverbial sigh of relief after coming from behind to steal the win.
The only way this team ever gets a better grade is if the o-line shows they can protect Freeman in the pocket and let him do his thing. They can't come from behind in every game.

Defensive Grade – B-

The defense held one of the most potent scoring offenses to only three touchdowns Saturday. The first two touchdowns came on drives that totaled 39 yards, so the Wildcats didn't really have much room to work with during either one of those drives. The only touchdown drive for the Cowboy's that was longer than 27 yards was a seven-play, 80-yard drive early in the fourth quarter.
The most important factor in this game on defense is that when the Cowboys got the ball back with 1:11 to play in the game and a 31-27 deficit, the Wildcats held their ground. Oklahoma State had five opportunities to win the game. The Cowboys had the ball on the Wildcats 26-yard line, and they took a shot into the endzone. Bowman had the ball in his hands, but Watts jarred it loose to set up third down for Oklahoma State.
Three incomplete passes and a Watts interception later, the Wildcat defense was able to celebrate knowing it shut down the opposing offense when it had to.

Special Teams Grade – C+

Patton scored on a 95-yard kick return, and Watts blocked a punt that was recovered by wide receiver Daniel Gonzalez for a touchdown. This brought the special teams' touchdown total to five on the season. The grade is low, however, because even though K-State averaged 47 yards per kick return and scored twice, its coverage units were less than average. The Cowboys averaged 41.7 yards per kick return, and 23.7 yards per punt return.
Following Patton's kick return that gave his team a 17-13 advantage late in the third quarter, Oklahoma State's Grant Jones returned the ensuing kickoff to K-State's 11-yard line. The Cowboys scored on the very next play when running back Keith Toston ran the ball right through the heart of the Wildcat defense.
Perrish Cox also had a 63-yard punt return for the Cowboys.
K-State kicker Jeff Snodgrass connected on his only field goal opportunity, a 48-yard field goal late in the first half to give his team a 10-3 lead going into halftime. He was also perfect (4-4) on extra points.

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