Wildcats all over Sooners, jump to No. 7
Published on -9/24/2012, 10:08 AM
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
NORMAN, Okla. -- The Kansas State Wildcats knew they needed some help in slowing down Oklahoma's high-powered passing attack.
Surprisingly they went straight to the Sooner trigger man to get it.
By forcing OU quarterback Landry Jones out of his comfort zone, the Wildcats not only disrupted the No. 6-ranked Sooners, but also came up with a pair of crucial turnovers Saturday night that proved to be the difference in a 24-19 upset victory at Memorial Stadium.
In handing Oklahoma its first loss to a ranked team at home in 14 years under coach Bob Stoops, the Wildcats improved to 4-0, 1-0 in the Big 12 and jumped from No. 15 to 7 in the Associated Press Top 25. The Sooners (2-1, 0-1) fell 10 spots to No. 16.
"What we did all week was try to flush him out of the pocket because we know he's not good with pressure, and if we get to his blind side he's going to get jittery," defensive end Adam Davis said of Jones. "So we tried to get our D-tackles to cause pressure so we could get around the edge and try to get him."
That's exactly how the Wildcats came up with their first, and arguably biggest, game-changing play. With Oklahoma up 3-0 but backed up at its 13-yard line early in the second quarter, Justin Tuggle came from his right end spot and chased Jones down from behind, forcing a fumble that Jarell Childs returned 1 yard for the game's first touchdown.
"That was big," said Tuggle, who frequently moves from his linebacker position to end in passing situations. "We talked about it all week, that if the defense could put some points on the board it could make a big factor in the game and us winning the game.
"Luckily I came off the edge and got the sack on Landry and the ball popped out and Jarell jumped on it. That was really big for us."
The Wildcats got another timely turnover late in the third quarter after Oklahoma put together a long scoring drive to regain the lead at 13-10. On second down from his own 22, Jones threw off his back foot toward Kenny Stills and the ball sailed into the arms of safety Ty Zimmerman.
Seven plays and 38 yards later, Collin Klein's 5-yard touchdown run put K-State in front to stay, 17-13, with 13:16 left.
Jones, a senior and the OU's all-time leading passer, blamed himself.
"We played really dumb football, me especially," he said. "The fumble, the pick, I missed Moose (Brannon Green) on the tight end pop-up play ... a lot of different plays were left up to me."
Jones was effective when he had time to throw, connecting 28 of 43 passes for 298 yards and a touchdown. That made it all the more vital for the Wildcats to make him uncomfortable.
"Our coaches told us, 'Put pressure on him, he'll make mistakes,' and that's what we did," Childs said.
Oklahoma had to work for each of its two touchdowns, requiring 11 plays to march 88 yards in the third quarter and 10 to go 65 yards in the fourth. The Sooners' longest pass play covered 27 yards and their longest run was 11, though they did have a 65-yard scoring run by Damien Williams called back early in the fourth period on a holding penalty.
The Wildcats have been successful all season with a bend-don't-break approach, giving up yards but stiffening in the red zone. Twice in the first half they forced OU to settle for short field goals and another time escaped unscathed when backup quarterback Blake Bell fumbled the ball away at the K-State 1-yard line.
But against the Sooners, they added the big impact play to their arsenal.
"Each week we're all about improving," said middle linebacker Arthur Brown, who led K-State with eight tackles. "In order to make the season successful, we're going to have to improve each week.
"That definitely was a great element to our game - really applying pressure on Landry Jones and making big plays when we needed to make them."
K-State now has a week off before entertaining struggling Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown on Oct. 6. They then play two more on the road at Iowa State and No. 9 West Virginia.
"When we play fast, it's hard for offenses to move the ball," Tuggle said. "So what we've got to continue to do the rest of the season is keep playing fast, run to the ball and keep making plays."