Friday, January 6, 2012
Halftime analysis: Arkansas 19, K-State 9
By David Ubben
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Is this the same K-State team? Are we sure?
The Wildcats' play all season has been marked by precision and a lack of mistakes. The result was 10 wins. In the first half, they've been penalized four times and have turned the ball over. They're getting beat in the special teams, too, giving up a huge play on a punt return.
Arkansas has to be feeling good about that half, with the exception of a late fumble.
K-State also had a scary situation late in the half. Defensive end Meshak Williams took a helmet-to-helmet hit from teammate Emmanuel Lamur and had to be carted off. Medical personnel removed his face mask and were stabilizing his neck, according to sideline reports.
Time for some further analysis.
Turning point: Joe Adams' punt return. He's the most electrifying player in this game by a long shot, and he showed why with a shifty 51-yard punt return. His fourth return for a touchdown in 2011, and fifth in his career, tied the single-season SEC record and totally turned the first half. Arkansas' offense hasn't been great, but Adams got the crowd going. Yeah, he got some help from a block in the back (or two), but nobody was catching him on that play. It was the first punt return for a touchdown in the Cotton Bowl since 1961.
Turning point II: Tyler Wilson's fumble in the final minute of the half. It gave Kansas State some hope heading into the locker room in what was otherwise an ugly, ugly first half. Kansas State took advantage, hooking up for a 3-yard touchdown pass on a pretty rollout throwback play to Andre McDonald to cut the lead to 10 heading into halftime.
Best player (s) in the half: Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette and Joe Adams. Sometimes, all it takes is two big plays. The first half's been pretty ugly, but Bequette forced a sack/fumble in the K-State red zone, and Adams swung the game on the aforementioned punt return. Adams has almost broken a couple, and Bequette's been consistently disruptive, too.
What Kansas State needs to do: Collin Klein, for whatever reason, has been tentative to take off in the pocket, and he's already thrown too many passes without a ton of effectiveness. He's relied on his arm perhaps a bit too much tonight when he's had opportunities to run. That has to change, especially in a half when they're likely to be dropping back to throw quite a bit.
What Arkansas needs to do: Keep testing K-State's defense deep. It hit Wright for a 45-yard score and nearly had Joe Adams for one from 70-plus yards. The Hogs opened a window for K-State with the late fumble, and the Wildcats climbed through it. Arkansas can slam the door shut with a couple big plays in the second half.