It will be a huge test for the Texas Tech football team today in Manhattan, Kansas. However, that’s nothing new for Joey McGuire’s team this year as Tech is in the midst of a stretch of five consecutive games against ranked foes.
All-time Kansas State leads this series 13-9 thanks to its current 6-game winning streak over the Red Raiders. What’s more, Tech has won only one of the last eleven games played against the Wildcats.
Of course, all streaks eventually end and the Red Raiders have an excellent shot at putting to bed KSU’s dominance in this Big 12 rivalry today. That’s because these two teams are rather evenly-matched.
Tech is averaging 36.5 points per game, 8th in the Big 12, while KSU is ninth in the league at 31.0 points per game. Defensively, KSU’s stats are a bit better as they are giving up only 15.5 points per game while Tech is giving up 25.2.
Speaking of that Kansas State defense, it might look somewhat familiar to Red Raider fans. Deploying a bit of a cloud defense, which is designed to keep everything in front of the secondary, the Wildcats’ scheme will be similar to what NC State ran earlier in the season.
Naturally, we all hope that today’s game turns out differently than the trip to Raleigh did two weeks ago when the Red Raiders were held to just 14 points in a disconcerting loss. So let’s look at what the Red Raiders must do to pick up their first road win of the Joey McGuire era.
Make Martinez a passer
Perhaps the most important task the Red Raiders have to accomplish today is to turn Kansas State quarterback, Adrian Martinez, into a passer. If they can force the super-senior transfer from Nebraska to win the game with his arm, it will bode well for the Red Raiders’ chances.
However, that will be difficult because Martinez is one of the best athletes the Big 12 has at the QB position. So far this year, he’s averaging 74.5 yards per game on the ground. What’s more, he is gobbling up 5.0 yards every time he takes off and runs.
Yet, as a passer, Martinez is rather spare. He’s just a 62% passer this year and has averaged just 134.5 yards per game through the air.
Even in last week’s road upset of Oklahoma, Martinez was just average when throwing the ball. Completing 21-34 passes for 234 yards, he had only one TD through the air (he’s got just two passing touchdowns on the season).
Thus, it was Martinez’s legs that really undid the Sooners. He galloped his way to a game-high 148 yards and four touchdowns on 21 carries.
Tech can’t allow him to have that type of impact on the ground this week. Expect safety Marquis “Muddy” Waters to spy Martinez for much of the game and expect the Red Raider defensive line to exercise caution when rushing the passer as it will be imperative that the Red Raiders maintain gap integrity when the KSU QB drops back to pass.
If Tech can keep Martinez in the pocket and prevent him from picking up a ton of yards on the ground, it will be possible for the Red Raider defense to stymie what is an otherwise average KSU offense (even with RB Deuce Vaughn in the mix). However, if Martinez runs wild, Tech will be in deep trouble.