K-State’s Offense lets Sensational Defensive Effort go to Waste

| September 19, 2014 | 0 Comments


By Cole Manbeck


Kansas State’s defense was special on Thursday night. The Wildcats held Auburn to its lowest-point total against a team from a power-five conference since Gus Malzahn became the Tigers head coach in 2013. I went through and broke down each of Auburn’s games against a power-five team since Malzahn became the coach. K-State held Auburn to 2.8 yards per rush, 359 total yards of offense and 4.7 yards per offensive play. All of those are all-time lows for Malzahn’s Auburn teams when facing an opponent from a power-five league. And it’s really not close.


Take a look at the below table. It’s remarkable just how good K-State’s defense was after you see the numbers. Once you do that, you’ll see a table soon after showing why the Wildcats lost this game.



Auburn’s offense vs. opponents from the power-five conferences since Gus Malzahn became the head coach in 2013


Opponent Rushing yards Yards per rush Passing Passing yards Total yards Yards per play
Washington State 295 6.4 10-20-0 99 394 6.0
Mississippi State 120 3.3 23-34-2 339 459 6.6
LSU 213 4.1 17-33-2 224 437 5.1
Ole Miss 282 5.9 11-17-0 93 375 5.8
Texas A&M 379 6.3 11-25-0 236 615 7.2
Arkansas 233 5.1 8-9-0 133 366 6.7
Tennessee 444 8.4 3-7-1 35 479 8.0
Georgia 323 5.7 16-27-0 243 566 6.7
Alabama 296 5.7 11-16-0 97 393 5.8
Missouri 545 7.4 9-11-0 132 677 8.0
Florida St. 232 4.4 14-27-1 217 449 5.6
Arkansas 302 6.3 16-22-0 293 595 8.5
K-State 128 2.8* 17-31-1 231 359* 4.7*


*All-time lows in the Gus Malzahn era at Auburn against a power-five team.


As good as K-State’s defense was, the Wildcats offense was on the other end of the spectrum. Jack Cantele missed three field goals, and that certainly can’t happen. But K-State’s offense was simply putrid against a mediocre Auburn defense playing without one of its best and most-experienced players in the secondary in Jermaine Whitehead. Auburn ranked 100th out of 123 teams in 2013, allowing 260 passing yards per game, and the Tigers ranked 53rd in passing efficiency defense.


K-State, which had averaged more than 230 rushing yards in each of its first two games, was dreadful on the ground against Auburn. The Wildcats rushed for 40 yards on 30 carries. No team from a power-five conference had rushed for less than 117 yards during the Gus Malzahn era at Auburn. K-State averaged 1.3 yards per rush. No opposing offense from a power-five league averaged less than 3.2 per rush against the Tigers defense in the Malzahn era.


K-State had 285 yards of total offense on Thursday. The next-lowest total by an opposing offense against Auburn was 328. The Wildcats averaged 4.1 yards per offensive play. The next-lowest average by a team from a power-five league came from Arkansas in 2013, when the Razorbacks averaged 4.7 yards per play (Arkansas ranked 101st in the country in total offense last season). Take a look at the chart below to see how K-State’s numbers stack up against other offenses that went up against the Tigers defenses.



Opposing offenses from power-five conferences against Auburn’s defense during the Malzahn era at Auburn


Opponent Rushing yards Yards per rush Passing Passing yards Total yards Yards per play
Washington State 120 5.2 35-65-3 344 464 5.3
Mississippi State 202 5.1 15-28-0 213 415 6.1
LSU 228 5.2 14-22-1 229 457 6.9
Ole Miss 124 3.2 26-50-2 340 464 5.2
Texas A&M 133 3.3 30-42-2 469 602 7.3
Arkansas 222 4.7 12-27-1 124 346 4.7
Tennessee 226 5.3 16-25-1 128 354 5.2
Georgia 117 4.7 33-49-1 415 532 7.2
Alabama 218 6.2 17-29-0 277 495 7.7
Missouri 231 6.8 21-37-1 303 534 7.5
Florida St. 148 4.8 20-35-0 237 385 5.8
Arkansas 153 5.3 18-31-1 175 328 5.5
K-State 40* 1.3* 24-40-2 245 285* 4.1*


*All-time lows by an opposing offense from a power-five conference against Auburn’s defense during the Malzahn era.


There’s no reason to point a collective finger at Cantele for this loss. This loss falls on the K-State offense, because just like at Iowa State on Sept. 6, the Wildcats failed to put the ball in the end zone and had to settle for field-goal attempts too many times. K-State had two possessions in the first half that stick out: one drive started at Auburn’s 43-yard line. The other started at the Auburn 39. On those two drives combined, the Wildcats offense traveled a total of 20 yards on 10 plays, an average of 2 yards per play. They settled for a field-goal attempt that missed on the first drive. They punted on the drive that started at the 39. You have to come away with points when you start the ball inside the opponents’ 40-yard line.


The offense was given quality field position several times and it couldn’t capitalize with touchdowns. K-State’s defense was sensational on Thursday. The crowd was absolutely electric. We should be talking more about those things. But due to a poor offensive effort/game plan, we aren’t talking as much as we should about the defense and the crowd. Instead, we’re talking about how K-State beat itself. The Wildcats outplayed Auburn in several facets on Thursday. The one area I thought they had an advantage in (offense against Auburn’s defense) turned out to be their biggest weakness and as a result, a special night got away from them.



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