How the Texas Tech Red Raiders can attack the Kansas State Wildcats and their highly rated defense and all-world quarterback, Collin Klein.
I wasn't sure how to do this, so I went back to 2011. That's the last time that Kansas St. lost a game, although there were close games this year, I figured I'd go back and look at actual losses. The first loss of the game was Oklahoma and this was a game where K-State wasn't even in the game. This was just an absolute tail whipping as OU won the game, 58 to 17. I was initially thinking that this must have been a situation where K-State just coudn't control the clock and I was wrong. KSU won the time of possession battle, they almost always do. The most interesting thing here is that there just wasn't any other player that did anything offensively other than Collin Klein. OU never really let Klein get going passing as he went 8 of 16 for 58 yards and the Sooners also very much limited third down conversions, allowing only 4 of 13. The next game was Oklahoma St., where the Cowboys won in a shoot-out, 52-45. In this game, Klein again carried the offense as he had 38 pass attempts and 29 rushing attempts. That's Klein having the ball in his hands 67 times. This doesn't seem like a game where K-State necessarily did anything wrong, they just couldn't keep pace with Oklahoma St. Last, but not least, K-State lost to Arkansas and offensively, it seemed like K-State got stuck behind the 8-ball early and just couldn't ever really catch up. Klein wasn't particularly efficient passing the ball, completing only 30 of 16 for 173 yards. Arkansas did a good job of limiting the third downs as the Wildcats converted only 4 of 15.
So in two of the three losses last year, the winning team limited Kansas St. to 32% on third downs and limited Klein passing the ball. In games that K-State won, Klein had a 134 QB rating, and in games he loses he has a QB rating of 102. And it’s not so much the yards as he passes for 150 yards or so either way, but it’s the efficiency at which he does it. He wastes plays, doesn’t go down the field (7.4 YPA to 5.4 YPA). To add to this, Klein averages 186 yards rushing in wins and 181 yards yards rushing in losses. He is going to run the ball whether you like it or not. I'm sure there are plenty of examples where Klein does run all over teams without passing for many yards, but I'm a bit desperate here in trying to find something, anything, that would give me an indication of what the defense can try to do to make life difficult for Klein. He will seemingly always get his yards running the ball. That almost a given because he's so gifted at finding yards and making plays, but at least two teams last year slowed K-State by limiting third downs, which is easier said than done and not letting Klein put up a ton of yards through the air.
OU fans may forget this, but in the OU game, Landry Jones passed for over 500 yards and the team ran for over 170 yards on the ground. Ryan Broyles caught 14 passes for 171 yards. Meanwhile against Oklahoma St., Brandon Weeden threw for 502 yards, although the team only ran for 73 yards. Justin Blackmon had a career day, catching 13 passes for 205 yards just by himself. And Oklahoma St. was slicing through the K-State defense like butta, holding onto the ball for a shade under 19 minutes for the entire game. Oklahoma actually held onto the ball for near 29 minutes, but this was a game where K-State couldn't stop Jones and the OU offense pounded out an average of 6.8 yards a carry. Against Arkansas, I don't know that this was a case where the defense played horrible, but the Hogs put up 19 points by the end of the first half to K-State's 9 and I'm thinking that maybe K-State pressed a bit, although they probably didn't need to do so. Of K-State's first 8 drives in the first half, the first seven ended in either some sort of punt or a fumble. They had okay field position, but whoever was punting didn't do them a lot of favors and I'd add that Joe Adams was pretty good with a punt return for a touchdown. The second half was a more competitive game, but even then, the K-State offense was only able to muster a touchdown in the third quarter and that was the end of the scoring for the day.
Perhaps the difference in this game last year versus this year is that K-State is finishing these drives rather than sputtering out with punts and an occasional field goal. Obviously, the biggest takeaway from the two Oklahoma games is that the offenses had huge days. Just incredible and the quarterbacks were efficient. I think that Snyder sometimes game plans for those explosive offensive teams to just not get beat with a big play and it didn't work in either instance. I'd guess that KSU isn't going to sit back as Texas Tech doesn't have a player the caliber of Blackmon or Broyles, at least I don't think. Blackmon and Broyles, prior to his injury, were pretty darned impressive players. I don't know if it is going to take an unworldly performance, but that's what did it in 2011 as least two times.