Crossing Enemy Lines: Kansas State Wildcats

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Dave Thoman: Unfortunately, when you lose 52-24, there’s not a single thing that needs to be fixed – there are a lot of things. It starts up front, and this Saturday may be painful for the line coaches. K-State simply wasn’t able to open holes like it normally does for the running game, and the pass protection was an abject failure. There were a number of plays wherein a Bears defender raced untouched into the backfield due to a breakdown in communication last week. For a unit that seemed to be overachieving all season, the offensive line just couldn’t find success against a Baylor unit that hasn’t had much success against anyone up front this season. Although tight end Travis Tannahill has been an excellent addition to the passing game over the middle this year, he may be required to stay home and serve as an extra blocker on passing plays against Texas. Communication is the key, although playing at home in a friendly environment should help.

The reason I think it may be painful for both sides to watch is that Texas’s front four was supposed to be among the most dominant in country this season – particularly at defensive end – before injuries and generally bad play sank the defense’s stature. It doesn’t seem like anyone has reason to be scared of the Texas defensive line anymore. With Alex Okafor questionable for this week’s game, can the Longhorn’s stop Collin Klein in the backfield?

Kansas State Wildcats

Nov 3, 2012; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders wide receiver Tyson Williams (3) is tackled by Texas Longhorns defensive end Alex Okafor (80) in the second half at Jones AT

Chris Flanagan:

I think Okafor will be ready to go. Mack doesn’t like to sit defensive players unless he really has to. Okafor is needed.
Now since the Kansas game, the Texas defense has been much better and if it wasn’t for the offense collapsing in the TCU game, it would have been a win. But Texas has only given up 16 ppg and while the Texas defense has given up yards, it’s third down and redzone conversions are much better.

In the month of November, Texas is 14th in the country at Opponents Redzone Touchdown conversions at 40%. Only TCU’s numbers are better in the month of November in the Big 12 (Watch out Oklahoma). Texas is 9th in the country in the month of November in 3rd down conversion at 28%, which is 1st in the Big 12. And Texas Tech is 14th in the country in 3rd down conversions at 48%. They only converted 28% of their 3rd downs against Texas. So Texas is getting stops on 3rd down and forcing field goals.

 

So to look at the overall stats of the defense and think Texas’s defense is bad and Kansas State is going roll right over Texas hasn’t seen the improvements this defense has made in the month of November.

So let’s focus on Kansas State’s defense. Oklahoma State and Baylor were able to air out the ball. Case McCoy loves to throw the ball. 1. Will Ty Zimmerman play? 2. How can Kansas State stop Mike Davis who has one of the top YPC for Wide receivers in the country?

Dave Thoman: This game may hinge on Ty Zimmerman’s presence. The junior safety had been making tackles and interceptions all year until being injured against TCU and missing the Baylor game. Unlike Mack Brown, Bill Snyder treats injury information as double top secretly classified material, which infuriates fans, opposing teams, and the media, but can’t be discounted for its strategic value. Zimmerman was in a boot and relying on crutches during the Baylor game, so even if he is able to play he’ll likely be a step slow. This is the most banged up K-State’s been all season, and their bye week came at an opportune time to gets kids healthy and make adjustments for the players that won’t be able to suit up.

As far as WR Mike Davis is concerned, he’s unlikely to be shut down. Both Wildcat cornerbacks – particularly Nigel Malone – give up yards in sometimes disturbingly large chunks. The key for this season has been using the front four to generate pressure, keeping everyone at home in the secondary and swarming to the ball to limit any yards after the catch. The CBs are also great at sniffing out the ball and won’t hesitate to break on a pass they believe they can intercept, leaving the safety to clean up if they come up short. I feel much more comfortable predicting two McCoy interceptions on Saturday than I do attempting to predict the final score.

Since I mentioned final scores, it looks like prediction time. I don’t know what it is about the University of Texas, but it seems absolutely confounded in attempting to figure out how to beat K-State. Looking at the history of the past decade, I have to believe K-State bounces back and secures another win against the Longhorns. Additionally, it’s a home game, they’ve had an extra week to stew about the Baylor loss, and, with the exception of Oklahoma, Baylor was the only team that Kansas State didn’t look dramatically superior to. I say when the dust settles on the regular season, the scoreboard reads K-State 38, Texas 28. Thoughts?

Kansas State Wildcats

Nov 17, 2012; Waco, TX, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder leads his team on the field prior to the game against the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Chris Flanagan: I think Kansas State is Mack Brown’s kryptonite but only when Texas is a highly ranked team and Kansas State is not. Kansas State is the favorite in this game. The Longhorns have improved since the Oklahoma game. But Texas has not done great with good defenses but I am not sold on Kansas State being a dominant defense like Oklahoma and TCU.

The key to this game will be if Coach Bryan Harsin gets the ball into Texas Longhorns playmakers. DJ Monroe, Marquis Goodwin, and Daje Johnson need to test that perimeter and get runs to the outside. The problem is Coach Harsin is stubborn and will run it right down the middle against that great Front 7 of Kansas State, get into 3rd and 7 and 3rd and 8 and rely on Case to make a play. That’s the problem with this Texas team and it’s the coaches refusal to play to the defense’s weaknesses on the other team and just run in up the middle when we don’t have the offensive line to actually create that huge push to create space.

Texas should be able to compete and win this game on talent alone but considering the obvious advantage Kansas State has in coaching, I think Kansas State wins by 2 possessions.

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Tags: Football Kansas State Wildcats Texas Longhorns