The Texas Tech game showed K-State’s ability to use all aspects of its team to put points on the board and has caused a resurgence of articles about how good special teams have been under Bill Snyder. Without those huge plays, K-State might not be undefeated but that wouldn’t change how this weekend’s game in Lawrence feels. Hatred is the only word that can describe the relationship of these two schools when they play one another and you can bet that’s been the attitude of both practice fields since Monday. They always say you can throw rankings and records out the window for a rivalry game and while I don’t think even that’s going to help the Jayhawks chance at a win in real life, K-State still has to focus on improving to come home to Manhattan with a big win against their rival. Continue reading to see just how K-State can get another conference victory on the road.
Offense – The offense sputtered in a big way against Texas Tech in the first half of the game and that can’t take place in Lawrence. Scores on defense and special teams were the only things that allowed the Wildcats to have an opportunity in the second half and I’d love it if that doesn’t need to be the case again for the rest of this season. By the end of the game, K-State had returned to its normal ways though and that’s got to be the same against Kansas. This is the first game of the season (minus the easy non-conference opponents) that most K-State fans aren’t worried about and the first one where I’m absolutely confident that extremely vanilla play calling can still get the job done. Kansas’ defense is atrocious and has proven they can’t really stop anyone themselves. The Jayhawks hanging with OU for a half was much more about OU screwing up than it was Kansas doing anything. To dominate on offense, K-State simply needs to continue lining up and pounding the ball through all the holes KU’s 116th ranked rushing defense will have. Klein and Hubert should be able to have career days against a defense that’s giving up 227 yards on the ground per game. I figure HCBS is going to run about 3 different plays all game so that OU has nothing to gain from the most recent tape. In case there is any worry left, to show just how bad KU’s defense is, I’m still confident in a victory even if Klein broke both his legs and could only rely on his arm throwing from an emergency cart. KU gives up 337 yards per game in the air, which puts them at 119th of 120 FBS teams. Add those stellar numbers with their rush defense and K-State goes on the road to face the worst defense in college football. It should be a good day for the purple!
Defense – The K-State defensive rankings have steadily declined although I would say the product on the field actually has gotten better. The weakness of the unit is clearly pass defense, which Texas Tech exposed just as expected but the defensive scheme doesn’t necessarily reflect a desire to completely shut down a passing game. The last games have seen 95% of the plays use only four men rushing the quarterback and that’s been good enough to shut down the likes of Miami, Baylor, and Texas Tech. While KU can’t be overlooked, they aren’t close to the same offensive teams the K-State has already beaten. The biggest key to this game is going to linebacker play as KU will try to run the ball a bit more than any team we’ve played so far. The Jayhawks actually rank 23rd in rushing offense but I’m confident in the studs roaming that area of the field who stuff rushing lanes and expect to see Kansas limited to just about nothing. As long as the DBs don’t let anybody behind them for huge gains, K-State should be fine defensively.
Special Teams – Oh, special teams. What do we make of this unit? Just when it seems like Snyder Jr. has gotten things figured out, the kicking game goes and misses another field goal and then, for extra depression, shanks an extra point to keep everyone on their toes. The good news was the great blocking on the kick return that opened the field for Lockett to take it to the house and Guidry’s 2 field goal blocks, which were more on him individually than any scheme. Against KU I want to see more of the latter and none of the former. All we need is a mistake free game from this unit to win. Simply kick the ball inbounds and don’t give up a return for a touchdown and all will be fine.
Prediction – Hail, hail, you mighty Wildcats! 7-0 is for sure in the future of K-State, which sets up a huge Saturday coming against Oklahoma. I think the KU game may stay close for the first quarter or two but there’s simply no way the Jayhawks are going to be able to outlast the never-ending ground pounding the Cats are rolling into Lawrence with. I expect to see Kansas pull out some trick plays to try and open things up but even that isn’t going to help.