Special teams can’t give up a score
Though legendary head coach Bill Snyder no longer leads the KSU program, his blueprint for success is still part of the Wildcats’ DNA. Therefore, special teams are still going to be a calling card of the program in Manhattan and that means that the Red Raiders had better be solid in the kicking game.
This year, KSU has already blocked a punt for a TD against South Dakota and returned a punt for a TD against Missouri. Therefore, the Red Raiders had better be on-point when Austin McNamara is called on to punt.
Receiver Malik Knowles is also a huge weapon in the kickoff return game. With three career TD returns to his name, he’s averaging 33.7 yards per return this year. So it would behoove Trey Wolff to boot the ball out of the endzone on every kickoff he attempts.
Unfortunately, the KSU special teams have been a thorn in Tech’s side in recent years.
In 2019, Joshua Youngblood had a 100-yard kickoff return TD against Tech in Lubbock, a pivotal play in a game that was eventually decided by three points. In 2017, KSU averaged 36.2 yards per game on five kickoff returns against Tech in a 42-35 OT win. And the season before that, KSU’s Byron Pringle returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score in a 44-38 Wildcat win.
That script can’t play out again today for the Red Raiders. Tech must play a clean game when it comes to the coverage units and prevent the Wildcat special teams from winning another game.