Well, that was disappointing. Alabama 45 K-State 20. Despite getting out to a 10 to nothing lead in the first quarter, it was all Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. They rattled off 35 consecutive points to take a 35 to 10 lead and the rout was on. There really isn’t much to break down in this game, as the Crimson Tide dominated for most of the game. Sure, there were questionable coaching decisions and calls, but in the end, it didn’t matter much. The K-State defense couldn’t stop Alabama’s high-powered offense and the Wildcat offense was mostly ineffective against the Crimson Tide defense.
Despite the loss, it was a great season for K-State. They won the Big 12 conference and the future looks bright. Onward and upward, as they say.
Here’s what the players and coaches were saying after the game, along with a couple of highlights…..
“Yeah, let’s start where it needs to start. Thank you, K-State fan base. Thank you, K-State nation, for coming out in droves. What we saw at the pep rally last night, with probably 10,000, 12,000 people supporting these guys, is why we all came to K-State. And the fans out there today were phenomenal.”…Head coach Chris Klieman, post-game
JM: K-State fans traveled in droves to New Orleans just like they do to every bowl game. It was a nice gesture by the head coach to thank them for their efforts.
“Didn’t play our best football today. Give credit to Alabama, but appreciate the guys staying in the fight for four quarters.”…Head coach Chris Klieman, post-game
JM: Alabama had a lot to do with K-State not playing their best football. What was a good defense for most of the season got manhandled by the Alabama offense for three quarters.
“Yes, I would have done it again. Deuce [Vaughn] would have said let’s go again. And the fact that we wanted to go ahead at halftime. It was under a minute left or a minute left or whatever the heck it was. Make a really good call and just don’t execute it.”…Head coach Chris Klieman, post-game
JM: Klieman is talking about going for it on fourth and goal near the end of the first half. A pass from Will Howard to Ben Sinnott fell incomplete and Alabama got the ball back ahead 14-10. they drove down the field for a touchdown to take a 21-10 halftime lead. I didn’t have a problem with the call to go for the touchdown. Field goals weren’t going to beat Alabama on this day.
“When we were in the locker room talking. We’ve worked these kicks every week all year long. Guys will tell you, every week, we have it in. Every week we have it in. And we didn’t execute it the way that it needed to be executed. We were trying to put it between the two guys. That’s a hard kick. Ty [Zentner] didn’t hit it probably the way he wanted to. But we also knew we had to take some chances because of the last two drives that they had on offense, where we struggled to slow them down.”…Head coach Chris Klieman, post-game
JM: The decision to start off the second half with an onside kick was horrendous at best. You are still in the game down eleven points. There is no need to onside kick it there. Since the execution of the kick was awful, Alabama recovered the kick and scored a touchdown almost immediately. Game over.
“Yes, I’m upset. I’m obviously mad that we lost. But the reason I’m crying is my time is up at Kansas State. It’s such a special place with so many special people. I’ve just made so many good relationships over the years. I can’t say enough about the coaching staff and everyone in the university. It’s just a place I’ll hold near and dear to my heart forever. That’s why I’m emotional right now. But so many good memories, and I’ll be coming back for many years to come.”…Defensive lineman Eli Huggins, post-game
JM: K-State will miss Eli Huggins tremendously next season.
“That’s all blocking. Just the duo scheme, and they split open in the middle. It was great blocking, not only by the O-line but downfield by the receivers to get the safety. And then after that, it’s a sprint to the end zone.”…Running back Deuce Vaughn, post-game
JM: Vaughn’s 88-yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty….
Number one on Alabama almost caught him from behind, but he had a bit of an angle.
“They were able to hit the explosive play on us. That was kind of the fear that we had. They’re pretty talented. Their quarterback (Bryce Young) is a pretty good player. They have good wide receivers. And they did, I thought, a really nice job.”…Head coach Chris Klieman, post-game
JM: That, in a nutshell, is the story of the game.
“I was excited that Adrian (Martinez) got a chance to play in a bowl game. He came here and transferred here to win a championship and have a chance to hopefully play in a bowl game, and helped us win the Big 12 championship.”…Head coach Chris Klieman, post-game
JM: Martinez got in the game for a few snaps, but didn’t play a big role in the game. I was surprised after the game turned into a rout that Klieman didn’t let Martinez quarterback the team at the end of the game.
“And man, that’s one of the things about K-State. This is a special, special place. The people that we have inside this building are special people, and that’s not going to change. We are going to continue to bring in special people. So this is just the foundation, for sure. And man, it’s only going to trend upward from here.”…Running back Deuce Vaughn, post-game
JM: I’ll trust Deuce Vaughn that the program will continue to trend upward. It sure sounds like him and Felix Aniduke-Uzomah are heading to the NFL though.
The question now is which K-State players are coming back next season and which are leaving to the NFL. Can this team contend again next season? They lose some huge pieces on defense that will make it difficult. With Will Howard running the show and playing at a high level, there’s no reason to think this team can’t have a good season in 2023. Stay tuned!