Texas Football: 3 problematic Kansas State players vs. Longhorns

Will Howard, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Will Howard, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
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DJ Giddens, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
DJ Giddens, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports /

This weekend, No. 7 Texas football hosts the No. 23 Kansas State Wildcats in a game that could be the biggest challenge of the year at home for head coach Steve Sarkisian’s squad. Head coach Chris Klieman and the Wildcats are on a roll of late, winning their last three games and four of their last five.

It’s also how Kansas State has defeated some of its recent opponents that show they’re on the right track heading into the stretch run of the regular season in November. Kansas State beat the TCU Horned Frogs and Houston Cougars (both at home in Manhattan) in the last two weeks by a combined score of 81-3. The Wildcats’ offense showed up in a big way in those two games, scoring 41 points in each.

Kansas State has many weapons on offense that could cause issues for Texas football in Week 10

And the Kansas State defense stifled TCU and Houston to just over 250 total yards allowed per game and around four yards per play.

Texas will face a hot Kansas State team in Week 10 with a redshirt freshman quarterback, Maalik Murphy, starting just the second game of his career. Murphy led the Longhorns to a 35-6 win at home in Week 9 over the BYU Cougars.

But this will be the biggest challenge Murphy has faced in his brief time getting key live-game reps at quarterback in Big 12 play.

Texas needs to win this game to stay atop the race for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game this season. But it won’t come easy with a tough Kansas State squad standing in its way in Week 10.

Here are three problematic Kansas State players for the Longhorns to deal with in Week 10 at home.

DJ Giddens, RB

Kansas State’s ground game is among the best in the Big 12 this season. The Wildcats rank second in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game (226.0) and fourth in yards per carry (5.4).

Kansas State has gotten even better in conference play, where the Wildcats lead the Big 12 in rushing yards per game in conference play (262.8) and rushing touchdowns per game (3.4). Kansas State likes to run the gap scheme on the ground behind those big pulling offensive linemen, including future NFL Draft picks in guard Cooper Beebe and offensive tackle KT Leveston.

There isn’t a better running back the Wildcats have to run the gap scheme this season than redshirt sophomore DJ Giddens. The big 6-foot-1 and 200-pound running back is light on his foot for his size and stature. But he can still pummel opposing defenders who aren’t squared up and ready for contact when he puts his shoulder down in the ground game.

Giddens has taken over as Kansas State’s top running back in conference play. Former Florida State transfer running back Treshaun Ward is still a key piece of Kansas State’s offense, as a quick and elusive threat out of the backfield in the ground game and receiving game.

But Giddens has taken his game to new heights in Big 12 play for the Wildcats. He ranks fourth in rushing yards in Big 12 play (506). In the last two weeks, Giddens has averaged over eight yards per carry with three rushing touchdowns in Kansas State’s wins over Houston and TCU.

Kansas State will test Texas’ defensive front with one of the best ground attacks the Longhorns will see this season. Limiting Giddens’ production is a must if the Longhorns want to come away from Week 10 with a win over the Wildcats.