Viva The Matadors talks with Bring On The Cats about the Texas Tech Red Raiders taking on the Kansas St. Wildcats.
1. Earlier this week I wrote that Texas Tech isn't going to stop Collin Klein running the ball, he wins no matter what, but in losses last year, he wasn't as efficient passing the ball. Is this pretty accurate or is there a better way to stopping the K-State offense?
I think you have to focus on the rushing attack. You may not be able to completely stop Klein running the ball, especially in the red zone, but teams were able to slow him down considerably at times last season. In the four games where KSU scored 24 points or less, Klein was held to less than two yards per carry three times (thanks to the inept offenses of Missouri and Texas, K-State still won two of those games). If you can do that, it's best to take your chances with Klein's passing and John Hubert running. However, both of those things are much better than they were last year, which is probably the biggest reason why this offense is tougher to stop in 2012.
2. The Kansas St. defense really hasn't been discussed on a national level at all, but they are doing a terrific job of stopping opponents, only allowing 21 points on two different occasions, and that's the high water mark. What's been the secret to K-State's success on defense?
KSU's defense has mastered the art of bending but not breaking and preventing the big play. In four Big 12 games, the only plays of 30 or more yards against the 'Cats were a 30-yard TD pass from Iowa State and a 31-yard pass from Kansas. It's worth noting KU threw an interception on the very next play, which brings us to the other secret. This defense is very opportunistic, and when you combine that with an excellent offense that has only turned the ball over 4 times all year, you get a league-best turnover margin of +12 and very few short fields for the opposing team.
3. Everyone is focusing on Klein offensively, but would love to hear about some of the other skill position players for K-State.
After his 194-yard game last week, I have to start with Tyler Lockett, who seems to have clearly established himself as KSU's biggest deep threat. He's a little undersized at 5-11, 175, but he has made some very impressive catches and loves to run right by unsuspecting defensive backs. Tramaine Thompson and Chris Harper are more of the go-to guys in short yardage situations and have come up with some big plays, but neither is ever going to be mistaken for an elite receiver in the Big 12.
I'm biased, but I think John Hubert is the most underrated back in the Big 12. He's not going to wow you very often and it's hard to imagine him having much of a pro career, but he simply gets the job done on a weekly basis and has really improved his elusiveness this season with better balance and an extremely effective spin move. That being said, it's believed injuries limited his time at West Virginia, so if that's the case again, you'll see a lot of Angelo Pease. He's more flashy and seems to be learning how to use his quickness better, but he's inconsistent and not nearly the workhorse Hubert is.
4 & 5. I normally do five questions but I wanted you to answer in two parts because this is something that I am greatly interested in a K-State fan's opinion. It seems like a lot of people speculate as to why Bill Snyder is successful, but what specifically about what he does makes him so successful? The only thing that I've found about Snyder writing down his thoughts was a book about special teams and his 16 goals, but that doesn't tell me specifically what makes him so great. I am very much interested in successful people and I'd love to know your top two reasons what makes Snyder so successful. Feel free to gush.
I can only pick two? Well, let's start with the obvious. He simply outworks everyone else. Snyder's 120-hour work weeks are the stuff of legend in Manhattan, and you can bet he's getting maximum production out of every minute. A quick story illustrating Snyder's ridiculous organization and attention to detail: A guy I know who worked at the Manhattan city newspaper once wanted to get a comment from Snyder for a next-day story about the KS legislature cutting funding to a mental health program, one of Snyder's pet projects. Seems like a no-brainer and an easy quote, right? The K-State SID said Snyder didn't have time in his schedule for an interview until 3 days later.
Honestly, I think it would be really frustrating to be a member of Coach Snyder's family or one of his close friends (insomuch as he has 'close friends') because he does little else outside of thinking about how to make his team better. But clearly, it translates to success on the field. I think most K-State fans will readily admit Snyder is not an elite game coach (though he's good with second half adjustments) but in so many other aspects he simply lives on a different planet.
I'm counting all of that as one reason, so the second would just be his commitment to the basics. You know about the 16 goals, but that's just part of how Snyder works to get all of his players to function as one unit and eliminate mistakes. It permeates the entire coaching staff, which I think has led to the great Snyder coaching tree. Of course, the players have to buy into it as well, and this doesn't always happen. Just look at the immensely talented teams towards the end of Snyder's tenure. The ability to completely buy into the philosophy of keeping it simple is a big part of what makes this team so special.