A Summers View: Kansas State’s Key Matchup Against Texas Tech


Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas State Wildcats continued the push towards bowl eligibility last week, thumping the Iowa State Cyclones 41-7.  The win moved the Cats back to .500 (4-4) and their second Big 12 victory (2-3).  As I mentioned in last week’s column, play calling was key, as Kansas State was the better team.  All assets of the offense clicked and the team limited turnovers and penalties, thus resulting in a blowout in front of the Kansas State faithful.  John Hubert ran for 105 yards and 2 TD’s, Daniel Sams added 111 total yards with 2 TD’s (1 rush, 1 pass), Jake Waters added 157 yards passing and 1 TD, and the receivers did their thing, led by Tyler Lockett with 5 catches for 72 yards and Tramaine Thompson with 3 catches for 71 yards and 1 TD.  This week, the Wildcats head to Lubbock Texas, where the Red Raiders started hot, 7-0, and have now lost 2 in a row, dropping their record to 7-2 (4-2 in league).  This week’s key match up is whether the defense, which dominated ISU, can slow down the high powered Tech offense.

Texas Tech’s new coach Kliff Kingsbury hit the ground running, starting the season 7-0.  The Red Raiders moved all the way to 10th in the nation, before losing to Oklahoma and then getting manhandle last week against Oklahoma State.  The game got out of the Red Raider’s reach early, as the Cowboys jumped ahead 21-0 in the first quarter.  The Red Raiders fought back to get the game close at half, 28-24.  However, all was for not as the Cowboys outscored the Red Raiders 21-10 in the second half, beating the Red Raiders 52-34.  Texas Tech’s defense gave up season highs by allowing 492 total yards (281 yards rushing) and 5 touchdowns on the ground in the contest against the Cowboys.

Davis Webb, the Red Raiders freshman quarterback threw the ball a whopping 71 times, completing 45 passes for 425 yards and 1 TD, while being intercepted twice.  Kliff Kingsbury, a former Texas Tech standout quarterback under former head coach Mike Leach, has installed the very similar pass happy offense approach.  This new installment of high octane passing attack is led by Davis Webb.  Webb sits second in the league in yards per game with 278.9, (Baylor QB Bryce Petty is first) and that entire yardage is through the air.  Webb does all of his damage through the air, as the QB actually sits with -6 yards rushing through the season.  The Red Raiders sit second in the league in total offense (538.4 yards per game) and passing yards per game (414.2) but 2nd to last in rushing yardage (124.2).  They are a team that really does live and die by the pass and by doing that with an inexperienced signal caller; turnovers can be an issue.  Webb has thrown 9 interceptions along with 15 TD’s.  The Red Raiders sit last in the Big 12 in turnover margin at –7, while Kansas State is second to last at –6.  The defense was key last weekend against the Cyclones; it will be even more key in Lubbock.

Last week, the defense was led by Big 12 Defense Player of the Week, Ryan Mueller.  Mueller tied for team high in tackles with 7 (Ty Zimmerman, Jonathan Truman, Blake Slaughter also added 7 tackles) and added his league leading 7th sack.  The Wildcat defense stifled the Cyclones, holding them to punt six times, forced three interceptions (Ty Zimmerman, Dorrian Roberts, Dakorey Johnson) and allowed only 249 total yards.  On average, the Cats allowed only 3.6 yards per play.  While it’s obvious to understand that Texas Tech is much better than Iowa State, the defense of the Wildcats has improved tremendously throughout the season.  Solid line play from Ryan Mueller and Travis Britz should disrupt the pocket for Webb, who as I mentioned earlier, can and will turn the ball over.  As the secondary has continued to grow under the leadership of Zimmerman, their play has increased.  The linebacking core also has improved since the first game against North Dakota State.  Slaughter & Truman have become tackling machines.  Can the Cats contain the Red Raider offense and force a few turnovers?  If they can, they may come out of Lubbuck a winner and finally score a winning record again.