Know Thine Enemy: Kansas State will look to shorten the game


It is hard to believe that the final home game of the 2015 Texas Tech football season is upon us but that is our unfortunate reality. And as the home schedule concludes, Texas Tech finds itself in desperate need of a win to snap a 3-game losing streak and secure a bowl birth.

To do that, Texas Tech will have to do something it hasn’t done in five years, beat the Kansas State Wildcats.   Continue reading to find out just what type of team the Wildcats have this year and how they match up with the Red Raiders.

 Kansas State Offense:

Kansas State is devoid of the explosive playmakers it has had in recent years. Stars like Collin Klein, Tyler Locker and Jake Waters are not on the 2015 version of Bill Snyder’s team.

Therefore, the Kansas State offense scheme will look more like that of a local middle school and could possibly bore the fans at Jones Stadium to death. And that’s fine with the Wildcats.

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To keep from allowing the high flying teams of the Big 12 to run away with the game, Kansas State wants to keep the ball as much as possible limiting the opposition’s possessions. Therefore, Texas Tech must not give the ball away and must finish drives with touchdowns because possessions will be limited.

Look for the Wildcats to run, run, run especially with designed quarterback runs and power tailback runs between the tackles. This is their offensive identity and they are fully aware of Texas Tech’s struggles against the rush. If Kansas State gains three or four yards on a carry, it will consider the play successful because the clock will be moving and Kansas State wants its touchdown drives to take as long as possible.

The passing attack is not Kansas State’s strength. Joe Hubener who has started the majority of the games at quarterback this year did not win the starting job in fall camp but is now the starter due to an injury to game one starter Jesse Etrz who blew out his knee on the season’s first play.

The fact that Hubener did not even start a high school game at quarterback should be a sign that Kansas State does not want to have to throw the ball unless it is on the Wildcats’ terms.

But Hubener is a threat to run. He is the Wildcats’ leading rusher with 411 yards on 116 carries. His most passing attempts in one game is 33 against TCU but in that game he also carried the ball 26 times. He also ran the ball 29 times against Baylor last week.

He is truly the alpha and omega of the Kansas State offense.

Kansas State Defense:

Due in large part to its offensive philosophy of shortening the game, the Kansas State defensive numbers are impressive.

The defense is averaging giving up only 29 points per game including holding Baylor to 31 and Oklahoma State to 36. While on the surface these numbers are impressive for a team in the Big 12, do not be fooled into thinking that Kansas State’s defense is chalked full of all-conference players.

The truth is that the Wildcat defense is a mash unit and has been for much of the season. It can be exposed when the opponent is efficient with the ball as was Oklahoma when it scored 55 on Kansas State or when TCU scored 52. Even Louisiana Tech put up a respectable 33 points on the Wildcats in a 3-point loss.

The Wildcat secondary is a liability; especially since its best player, 3-year starting safety Dante Barnett, has missed virtually the entire season with a season-ending shoulder injury.

Kansas State ranks 9th in the conference in pass defense so Texas Tech should be able to make plays through the air, that is of course if the Red Raiders’ outside receivers decide to show up and contribute.

However, against the run Kansas State is tough. Against Baylor, which came into last week’s game averaging close to 330 yards per game rushing, Kansas State allowed just over 100 yards on the ground.

The defensive line is undersized but feisty. The two starting defensive tackles, Travis Britz and Will Gerary, are both under 300-pounds but will be a challenge for the interior of the Texas Tech offensive line.

Final Analysis:

Kansas State is 0-5 in the Big 12 but is yet to play Kansas and Iowa State. This may be the most untalented roster Bill Snyder has had to work with since his return to coaching the Wildcats in 2009 after a 3-year hiatus.

What Snyder has done in keeping this team in some games against top-10 opponents and putting Kansas State in a position that if it wins three of its last four games it can still qualify for a bowl game is one of the more impressive feats of his recent tenure.

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What the Wildcats lack in talent, they make up for in discipline and heart. You will see nothing innovative or jaw dropping from the visitors on Saturday. They survive by being sounder and mentally tougher than their opponents.

But this year’s Wildcats are different from teams of the past. There is no game breaker on offense and the defense is under talented. Plus, considering the fact that Kansas State currently ranks No. 104 in the nation in turnover margin at -5 and it is clear to see that this is a team Texas Tech can and must beat.