Kansas State fell to Tulane 17-10 on Saturday to fall to 2-1 on the season, with Tulane’s upset big coming to fruition after a touchdown pass to Tyrick James with 4:27 left in the fourth quarter.
A key decision by Tulane head coach Willie Fritz to go for the first down on fourth and one from his own 24-yard line, paid off after quarterback Michael Pratt was pushed over the line to gain with just over 2:00 left in the fourth quarter. It was the lone fourth-down attempt by Tulane’s offense on the day.
After the first down, Tulane’s offense was able to run out the clock with quarterback knees because K-State coach Chris Klieman used all three of his timeouts on the first set of downs.
The failure of the Wildcats’ offense to convert on third and fourth down for most of the game routinely allowed the Green Wave to take over possession with quality field position, including on the Green Wave’s game-winning touchdown drive.
First-year offensive coordinator Collin Klein experienced a really, tough day. Klein’s decision to call a shovel pass on third and nine with less than three minutes left in the game led to Kansas State had to punt the football to Tulane, which landed inside the Kansas State 20-yard line.
In the first two games, the Kansas State offense found success running the football. But against Tulane, Kansas State’s offense struggled to gain any sort of serious momentum throughout most of the game.
Quarterback Adrian Martinez looked hesitant to throw the football downfield or over the middle of the field for much of the game, and it led to repeated check-down passes to running backs and tight ends when there were open wide receivers on multiple plays.
Through three games, Martinez has just 304 passing yards on the season, 150 of the passing yards came against Tulane. Martinez completed 21-of-31 passes on the day, but he averaged just 7.1 yards per completion, a fairly low number.
First-year offensive coordinator Collin Klein certainly struggled with play calls on several plays throughout the game. At the end of the first half with less than 10 seconds to play, Klein called a shovel pass from the seven-yard line, which forced Kansas State to use their final timeout of the half, and later settle for a field goal to enter halftime with a 10-7 lead.
But Klein — and the Kansas State offense — struggled supremely on third and fourth down for most of the game. The Wildcat offense went a combined 3-for-20 on third and fourth down on Saturday. Many of the plays the Kansas State offense ran on third and fourth down were long, developing runs with a tailback — Deuce Vaughn or DJ Giddens — starting five-plus yards behind the line of scrimmage.
While the K-State offense lacks large swaths of dynamic playmakers on the outside, the Wildcats never got very creative in short-yardage situations. Routinely, the Wildcats choose to run the football instead of using a play-action pass or some sort of play to change the eye direction of the Tulane defenders, who were stacked near the line of scrimmage selling out on the run with any of Martinez, Vaughn or Giddens.
DEFENSIVE DEMOLITION CONTINUES, UNTIL THE END
K-State’s defense allowed just one touchdown in the first two weeks of the season, and they pitched a shutout against South Dakota in the season-opener. Defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman’s crew continued their strong play vs. Tulane.
Kansas State allowed Tulane to gain just 336 total yards in the game, and limited Tulane to just 160 total rushing yards on the afternoon.
The Wildcat defense wasn’t able to come through in the clutch late in the game, though.
Kansas State’s defense wasn’t able to keep Tulane out of the end zone late in the game, which allowed the Green Wave to score a game-winning touchdown with less than three minutes left. The Wildcat defense also failed to hold on a fourth and one from the Tulane 24, which effectively sealed the game.
DANIEL GREEN’S STRONG PERFORMANCE
Linebacker Daniel Green had a strong day for the Kansas State defense. After hauling in an interception last week in the victory against Mizzou, Green had another interception against Tulane on Saturday that he returned 49 yards deep into Tulane territory. His interception helped set up Chris Tennant’s field goal before halftime.
KOBE SAVAGE’S MAMBA MENTALITY
Junior college transfer Kobe Savage is named after NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and his play through the first three weeks of the season is reminiscent of Bryant’s famous ‘Mamba Mentality.’
In addition to Savage’s interception, he led the Kansas State defense for much of the defense. The first-year Kansas State safety ended the day with seven tackles, and he continues to impress in pass coverage as well.
VAUGHN’S STREAK COMES TO AN END
Vaughn entered Saturday’s game having reached at least 100 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown in each of Kansas State’s last eight games, hit streak comes to an end after rushing for just 81 yards on the day. Vaughn also didn’t find the end zone on Saturday against the Green Wave.
The preseason All-American missed part of the second half in the locker room after suffering an injury on the Wildcat’s third drive in the second half. Vaughn later returned to the game but wasn’t able to spark any big plays for the Kansas State offense.
Kansas State opens Big 12 play next week against a top-10 opponent on the road at Oklahoma, who dominated Nebraska on the road to move to 3-0 under first-year head coach Brent Venables.