1. The defense turned in a monster performance, limiting K-State QB Collin Klein, who had been averaging 100 yards rushing per game, to 4 yards on 26 carries. Texas held K-State to 121 total yards.
"Klein really wasn't much of a factor," said Emmanuel Acho, who had 12 tackles to lead Texas for the second straight week. "We executed pretty well, but it wasn't enough.
"If you would have told me we'd hold them to under 150 total yards (121), I would have for sure assumed we would have won the game. But we didn't force enough turnovers. And that's on me as a defensive leader. We've got to get the ball out. So we didn't do enough."
Added Mack Brown, "If you would have told me we'd hold Collin Klein to 4 yards rushing and 83 yards passing, I would have known we won the game."
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said of Texas' defense: "They just beat the tar out of us. Texas is a tremendously talented defensive team, and they played extremely well. They created problems for us in terms of some of the things they did, and the blitzes they ran.
"So it was a combination of them playing very well and scheming us very well and us not scheming them very well or playing very well."
Mack Brown said his defense played "great," and he had high praise for his defensive line, led by Jackson Jeffcoat (1.5 sacks among 5 TFLs and 2 QB hurries), Alex Okafor (1 sack among 3 TFLs and 3 QB hurries), Kheeston Randall (.5 sack) and Chris Whaley (with a couple QB hurries)
"I don't think I've ever seen them play better," Mack said of his D-line. "Just an unbelievable performance. That's what's so sad. To have a performance like that and not win the game is just unheard of.
"But they fought. They didn't get frustrated when we were struggling offensively. They kept their wits about them. They competed. They tried to strip balls. I thought they did everything we asked them to do and more.
"Even at the end of the game, that's why we kicked the field goal. We knew we could stop them. We just had to score. Like I said, we had our opportunities. When you have the ball at the 49 yard line with four downs and enough time, you need to go score."
2. The defensive performance wasn't enough because the offense turned the ball over twice on David Ash interceptions, which Kansas State turned into 10 points.
Ash threw a pass behind Marquise Goodwin that glanced off Goodwin's hands and into the hands of LB Emmanuel Lamur, who returned it 15 yards to the Texas 16-yard-line. The Texas defense limited K-State to a field goal.
Ash's second interception came on the opening drive of the third quarter, when he tried to throw back against his body while running right and the ball just went up for grabs, intercepted by K-State SS Ty Zimmerman, who returned it 23 yards to the Texas 37.
Carrington Byndom was called for pass interference in the end zone on third-and-8 from the UT 17, giving K-State first-and-goal from the 2. Klein scored on a 3-yard TD run three plays later, putting KSU up 17-3.
"Turnovers are always a negative," Harsin said when asked about Ash's performance. "We have to eliminate those things. We had a couple of those, so we'll have to go back and look at them, find out why they happened and try to eliminate those mistakes moving forward and help ourselves out by not putting ourselves in a bad situation with turnovers and giving our defense a short field. That's number one for us on offense."
When asked about Ash, Mack Brown said, "I thought the one ball was a little hard and off Marquise's hands, and the other one I thought he was trying to throw it away probably. I'm not sure."
In the five games Ash has started, he's thrown six interceptions and zero touchdown passes. Case McCoy, who couldn't provide a spark last week at Missouri on three, third-quarter drives, did provide a spark Saturday night.
McCoy came into the game with 6:51 left in the third quarter with Texas trailing 17-3. He led a 6-play, 81-yard touchdown march on his first drive, capped by a 36-yard TD pass to Blaine Irby. That made it 17-10.
On UT's next possession, Texas had third-and-4 from the K-State 45 and ran Malcolm Brown, who was dropped for a 1-yard loss, forcing a punt.
I asked Bryan Harsin what he was trying to do there.
"Two-down territory. That was our thinking," Harsin said. "Try to get a little more than half and then come back and finish it off. And they did a good job on that particular play. That was two-down territory. We wanted to get at least half of it on third down and then come back and finish it off and keep the drive going."
On UT's third possession under McCoy, Texas drove from its own 13 to a first down from the K-State 11. But after two running plays netted 2 yards, McCoy led D.J. Grant too much on a pass in the end zone, and it fell incomplete. So on fourth-and-8 from the K-State 9, Texas settled for a 26-yard Justin Tucker field goal, cutting K-State's lead to 17-13 with 4:27 left in the game.
Harsin was asked why he didn't go for the touchdown there.
"We wanted to get points," Harsin said. "We felt our defense was playing well and that they'd get a stop and get us good field position, which they did. At that point right there, you've got to get points."
After a three-and-out by the Texas defense, K-State punted to Quandre Diggs, who returned the ball 26 yards to the K-State 49 with 2:18 left.
(It looked initially like he had gotten to the K-State 39, but an official review determined he stepped out of bounds at the 49.)
McCoy threw incomplete to Mike Davis on first and second down. He threw incomplete to Irby on third down and was sacked for minus-5 yards on fourth down.
Texas held K-State to another three-and-out and got possession at its own 20 with 1:16 left. McCoy drove Texas to the 50, but was not able to throw into the end zone on the game's final play.
McCoy was clearly upset with himself after the game and took the blame for not delivering in the clutch.
"This isn't my first year as a backup quarterback," Case said. "I've watched and learned from a lot of great quarterbacks. I know I'm one play away.
"Coach Harsin does a great job of preparing me each week just like I'm going to start the game. So there's no excuse for anything about not playing well. I was prepared. I studied. I've prepared for that moment for a long time."
3. Teammates praised McCoy for his leadership and toughness, even though the offense failed to score a touchdown on its final two drives of the game. Bryan Harsin was not prepared to name a starter at QB going into Thursday night's game at Texas A&M, which beat Kansas on Saturday 61-7.
"We won't make any decisions right now," Harsin said. "We'll go back and watch the tape. I like what Case did when he came in. He gave us a spark. That position, as I've said all along, we're developing two quarterbacks."
Mack Brown said of McCoy, "I thought he did a good job. He jump-started us and got us going."
Blaine Irby said he sees a unique confidence in McCoy.
"Whenever Case does come in, and I remember him coming in against BYU in the same situation, he's got a level of confidence you only see in him," Irby said.
"It's really what I saw in his older brother when he played. Case just has that confidence, and he showed it throughout the game. He made plays.
"It's disappointing when the game comes down to the wire like this. Both quarterbacks played their butts off. They might get a little excited in the pocket, but that's the way it is.
"When it comes down to that last drive, everyone was out of their seats in the stands, and that's why we play football. That's the reason I came back for moments like that when you're with your guys and you're battling. Unfortunately, it didn't go our way. But we have two games left."
McCoy finished 8-of-16 passing for 80 yards and 1 TD pass. Ash was 7-of-16 passing for 39 yards with 2 interceptions.
I asked Mack how frustrating it is to have this much uncertainty at QB 10 games into a season.
"You start with four, and two of them are gone," Mack said of his QB race this year, including the decisions by Connor Wood and Garrett Gilbert to transfer. "Your older guy is gone and you've got two younger ones who are continuing to work to develop."
4. Texas had yet another questionable call this week that went against them on a punt-catch interference call late in the first half.
Instead of a muffed punt recovered by Texas near the K-State 31, UT's Alex Zumberge was called for interfering with Tramaine Thompson's ability to catch the football. The 15-yard flag gave K-State the ball at its own 46.
Zumberge was a foot or two away from Thompson, who simply muffed the ball. (Later in the game, K-State was as close to Texas' Diggs while fielding a punt but didn't make the same call.)
The Wildcats' would take the ball and drive for a touchdown, converting third-and-14 along the way thanks to a 24-yard pass from Collin Klein to Sheldon Smith that Texas wanted reviewed to see if Smith was inbounds. The review determined Smith was inbounds.
Three plays later, Klein found Chris Harper for a 16-yard TD pass on a beautiful back shoulder pass against Carrington Byndom, while Byndom still had his back turned to Klein.
Mack Brown was asked about the personal foul on Zumberge.
"It's unbelievable. Really deflating," Mack said. "I can't talk about the call. But we get the ball before the half and it's a situation where we probably get 3 or 7 points, and instead we give them 7. So it's potentially a 14-point swing."
Last week, it was a questionable personal foul flag on Kenny Vaccaro on third down that helped keep a drive alive for Missouri, setting up a touchdown for the Tigers.
5. Offensive players said they have to do more to help the defense.
For the second week in a row, the Texas defense held an opponent well below its scoring average. Missouri had been averaging 33 points and was held to 17. K-State had been averaging 35 points and was held to 17.
"They're relying on us, just like we're relying on them to make stops," said Marquise Goodwin, who had 3 catches for 15 yards and also had a David Ash pass thrown behind him glance off his hands for an interception.
"We've gotta score points. They played a heck of a game. They aways do. They hold up their end of the bargain, and as an offense we have to do a better job of scoring points."
Emmanuel Acho said the defense has to shut teams out to help a fledgling offense.
"We can't give up anything as a defense," Acho said. "When we don't know what the offensive output is going to be, it's on us to shut the other team out. That's all we can control. We can't do anything about the offense, but we have to limit our opponents as much as possible."
6. Players said it will be difficult to bounce back for A&M on a short week.
"Losing this game was really hard," said senior guard David Snow. "But in this league, when you play so many good teams, A&M is really good. We have to put this one behind us because it's a rival game, and we are going to their place, so it's going to be a pretty hard-fought game."
Added Blake Gideon, "It's going to be tough. Any time you lose a game like this, we prepared all week for these guys and we worked so much on stopping the run and we fell short. So it's going to be tough to get over.
"We felt like we gave ourselves a chance to win in the end, but we couldn't come through. In a sport like this with so much emotion and passion, it's always going to be hard to get over. But at the same time, we've got a short week this week, and we're going to have practice tomorrow night (Sunday)."
Mack Brown said, "They've done what we've asked them to do this year. I'm sure they'll play hard Thursday night."
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