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The Huddle: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Kansas State Wildcats

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The Texas Tech Red Raiders travel to Manhattan to take on the #23 Kansas State Wildcats. We've got players to watch on offense and defense, key statistics, quotes from Bill Snyder and thoughts on Davis Webb and Patrick Mahomes.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking Down Mahomes. This may be a complete waste of time considering there’s a chance that Patrick Mahomes might not start or play at all for Davis Webb, who was injured last week against Oklahoma State in the 4th quarter.

Game Information
Texas Tech
vs.
Kansas State

When: October 4, 2014 at 6:00 pm
Where: Bill Snyder Family Stadium | Manhattan, KS
Watch: ESPNU
Key Injuries: Tony Morales, Jalen Barnes

Other than the handful of snaps that we all saw on Thursday night, it’s been a while since I looked at Mahomes’ high school tape and I wanted a better idea as to what to expect from Mahomes, assuming he plays. The first thing to dispel is that head coach Kliff Kingsbury is correct when he says that Mahomes is not Manziel. This is not breaking news. The question was asked during Kingsbury’s press conference if Mahomes was like Manziel and I suppose that yes, they are both mobile, but Kingsbury’s assessment that Manziel is much faster is really pretty accurate, but Mahomes, as a true freshman, carries with him a lot more weight and Manziel has, even right now. Mahomes is a bigger kid, thicker than Webb and Manziel, and capable of taking hits moreso than Webb.

The biggest thing that I noticed with Mahomes is that he is a first-option guy in high school and if that option isn’t working out, then it’s usually a scramble to find an open receiver and it’s usually an incredibly deep ball and that receiver just finds a way to go up and get the ball. It’s really just amazing in a sense. Especially considering that Mahomes only threw 15 interceptions for his career, 9 as a junior and 6 as a senior. I should also write that I think that Mahomes is just reading his first or second option, unless the pocket breaks down, because it doesn’t appear that his head moves from one side of the field to another. Or that he appears to be looking at either the right or left side of the field.

A lot of those yards as a junior came as a result of Mahomes connecting with Dylan Cantrell, who was his teammate at Whitehouse during Mahomes’ junior year. Cantrell is #14 and he makes a ton of catches. You can check out almost 10 minutes of Mahomes’ highlights his junior and senior year. And make no mistake, Mahomes is a passer first and a runner only as a last resort.

Now, let’s compare that to what Manziel was asked to do for his one year under the tutelage of Kliff Kingsbury in 2012 and how and when he scrambles to get an idea as to what Mahomes might be moving forward (if necessary). There are a couple of things really early in the sense that when Manziel runs, there’s almost zero hesitation, like it’s a called running play. I tried to focus on the linebackers to see if there was any sort of tell about when Manziel would run and sometimes yes and sometimes no. It seemed like they were called running plays and the line was heading to the second level to make a block. Of course, there are plenty of opportunities when the pocket breaks down and Manziel takes off. I could see both of those things for Mahomes, called running plays out of the standard offense and essentially telling Mahomes, that if he doesn’t have anything within 3 seconds, he needs to be moving in the pocket and figuring out if he’s going to run.

Who Does Smith Stop? Defensively, Mike Smith really will have his work cut out for him. It’s not going to be easy and the more video I watch, it’s really not deception, but it’s more about being patient. Surprise! Here’s a play that somewhat personifies that. RB Charles Jones will take a direct snap and rather than just run right to the hole, he pauses, and he figures out where he needs to be and then he runs. The Kansas State offensive line really does a terrific job of getting a ton of push on the line and Jones will be patient enough for that hole to open up and when it does, Jones is still running, patiently, to find the crease.

It stinks as a defensive coordinator because you can’t tell the players that when Player X does this and Player Y does that, then these are the options that they will run. Nope. You just get to tell the defense that they better stay at home and/or that you had better get a man free that can make a play.

This isn’t to say that Kansas State is infallible offensively. Jake Water is very good, but he’s not making a ton of plays through the air, only 4 touchdowns on the year and three interceptions to go along with that. Picking your poison, I’d guess that Smith will have Lockett double-covered, maybe some sort of bracket coverage, and leave Curry Sexton in single coverage and load up to stop Waters and Jones and DeMarcus Robinson. None of those guys average more than 60 yards a game. It’s a cumulative effort and other than Lockett and Waters, those are your biggest stars and maybe Mike Smith’s biggest nightmare. Texas Tech will have to figure out how to stop everybody.

Uniform Tracker. Because at the heart of it all, VTM is a fashion blog.

Uniform Tracker
Opponent Helmet Jersey Pants Result Photo Photo Credit
Central Arkansas W, 42-35 Michael C. Johnson -
USA Today Sports
UTEP W, 42-35 John Weast
Arkansas L, 49-28 John Weast
Oklahoma State ** L, 45-35 Brett Deering

* Click photos to embiggen.

** The color intended to be depicted is ombré.

Quotes

Bill Snyder is one of my favorite coaches to read his quotes.  This is not a joke.  He's really terrific, so if you need to go back and look at the Pullquotes from the Texas Tech side of things, please check out that post.  Here is the Kansas State presser from earlier this week.

Pretty interesting comments from Snyder on QB Davis Webb and QB Patrick Mahomes:

On preparing for two different Texas Tech quarterbacks...
"What I admire about (Davis) Webb is his competitive spirit. He started the ballgame against us last year and we played against him, and I think he's made a great deal of improvement in that period of time. That comes with being in the system over that period of time. The other thing I appreciate is, what I saw on television, was his competitive nature and how disturbed he was by not being able to go back into the ballgame when he was injured. You watch the last half of the (Oklahoma State) ballgame, I know he (Patrick Mahomes) was 50-percent throwing, but when he finally got his comfort level the latter part of the season half, he completed some passes, threw some nice balls and got it where it needed to be. On top of that, you add in that he can run the ball some and there are some built-in concerns for us."

Snyder is asked about Texas Tech's run defense and he goes on to look at how Texas Tech has given up all of these yards and says this at the end:

They have moved to the utilization of bigger people on the inside.

Snyder is asked about the Texas Tech offense:

On K-State's defense against Texas Tech after playing two run-based teams...
"The emphasis is a little more broad-based, but I think anyone would tell you that you have to still be able to defend against the run. You cannot put all your eggs in one basket. Texas Tech runs the ball more than people tend to believe - 38-percent of their snaps have been run plays. Some of those passes are really run plays when they put a guy in motion and pitch the ball forward; that is a completed pass even though they run most of the play. You are looking at somewhere in the vicinity of 60-40 pass-to-run, and that is a pretty decent balance when you look at it that way."

Just to clarify, I don't recall Texas Tech running a shovel pass all year, right, but I think what Snyder is talking about is when Texas Tech puts Grant in motion and pitches it to him.  Here's Snyder on preparing to defend against a primary passing team:

On the change of defending the pass...
"It is a matter of discipline, staying focused, putting your eyes in the right place and responding rapidly to what you see. UTEP threw the ball 28 times in the ballgame, so there were 28 times in the game that you had a chance to react to the pass as opposed to the run. It just goes with the territory, and it is going to happen every week, not just when we are playing Texas Tech."

Snyder opines on playing against a fast-paced team:

On young players playing against a fast-paced team...
"Hopefully it is built into the philosophy. It is still a snap at a time. They come faster, and we try to prepare that way. We see a lot of teams that do exactly that. Texas Tech is in the process of becoming maybe the quickest-tempo team in our conference. You know it is pretty close between them, Baylor and probably Oklahoma now. So many teams do it, and we have had experience with it. The new guys that have not been in the program before experienced a little bit of it early in the season with Iowa State. It is getting back to the line of scrimmage and getting the call and processing the information, lining up and playing."

Interesting to see how Snyder sees the fast-paced concept as a disadvantage for the offense as much as it is for the defense, in that they both have to know what they're doing and processing those decisions:

On defensive strategy against a spread offense...
"It has its disadvantages and it has its advantages as well. I think it all works out as a wash as much as anything. From a defensive standpoint, the thing is that you do not have time to really sit and process things as well as you would like to. They are going through the same thing. From the offensive standpoint, they have to process things as well. They are going fast, but they still have to know what their assignment is, and what does that mean to who I need to block and who I do not block. Both sides have to do that."

Stats

Stat
Total Offense 421.3 (65) 501.3 (21)
Rushing Offense 175.0 (58) 157.3 (76)
Passing Offense 246.3 (59) 344.0 (11)
Scoring Offense 39.8 (26) 33.8 (54)
Total Defense 308.0 (18) 429.7 (78)
Rushing Defense 90.3 (13) 260.5 (121)
Passing Defense 217.8 (39) 193.8 (27)
Scoring Defense 23.0 (51) 38.8 (114)
Turnover Margin -0.50 (95) -1.25 (114)
3rd Down % Off. 48.0% (27) 50.0% (14)
3rd Down % Def. 39.0% (68) 39.0% (68)
Yds/Play Def. 4.64 (27) 5.60 (78)

Kansas State is pretty much straight down the middle offensively and that's the scariest thing about the offense. The running offense isn't too good and neither is the passing offense. They're just right and probably just the way that Snyder intended. Thus far, Kansas State is completely balanced on offense and the problem is that there's really a pick your poison situation here for Texas Tech.

For every game other than Auburn, Kansas State ran for over 180 yards, and was held to just 40 against Auburn. That really lowers that average and so it's really a bit skewed. I think the goal for the Wildcats is for the running game to net 200 yards on Saturday night. I know that Mike Smith said that Lockett would be a key, and I think he will, stopping that rushing attack will be incredibly vital. It's the way that Snyder controls the clock.

Defensively, Kansas State has been incredibly stingy on the defensive side of the ball and outstanding in stopping the run. Auburn only ran for 128 yards when they played and the Tigers are averaging 260. Maybe Auburn isn't all they're cracked up to be, but still, Kansas State is stopping pretty much everything in terms of opposing teams running the ball. The Wildcats have not really faced a true passing team, so that's going to be something that Texas Tech could use to their advantage.

Tweets

Couldn't agree more.

The soccer team plays two home games this weekend. Should be some terrific weather to watch.

If you're not following MikeTTU on Twitter, you're missing out.

Five Things

1. Three Players to Watch on Offense for Kansas State.

1) WR Tyler Lockett (5-11/175): Of course Lockett is at the top of this list.  Lockett is incredibly explosive and dangerous whenever he touches the ball.  The funny thing is that he isn't the leading receiver for K-State, that's Sexton, but Lockett is averaging 16 yards a reception and he's obviously a deep threat.  The most dangerous thing is that Lockett is averaging near 29 yards a punt return.  That's the dangerous part, getting him in space and he can spring 7 points in a matter of seconds.

2) QB Jake Waters (6-1/210): I do think that Waters is Collin Kleinesque in a lot of ways.  He's not near the rusher, but he's still really good.  Waters averages about 50 yards a game and about 230 yards passing and he's not going to do anything that's going to absolutely astound you, but Waters will certainly do enough to force teams into bad decisions. The interesting thing is that Waters hasn't really connected to the endzone from a passing perspective, with only 3 passing  touchdowns on the season and 3 picks.

3) TE Zach Trujillo (6-5/256): Really, this should be Jones as a guy to watch, but watch out for that jump-pass sort of play with Waters. Surprisingly, it is one of those plays where Waters is incredibly patient and has the ball in his hands ready to run the ball is the situation calls for it, but as he's watching the defense, Waters watches the linebackers and if they leave Trujillo then it's a jump pass for big yards.  In fact, Trujillo is averaging 19 yards a catch and he's obviously a huge big-play target.  get free and the rest is touchdowns. All of the touchdowns.

2. Three Players to Watch on Defense for Kansas State.

1) DE Ryan Mueller (6-2/245): Mueller isn't having a great year, but that entire defensive line is stuffing even the best run teams, which is impressive. The talent hasn't dismished, just the overall production and reliance on Mueller. And it isn't so much of K-State making a ton of tackles behind the line of scrimmage, no one can run on them.

2) LB Dakorey Johnson (6-3/200): This should be painful a bit as Dakorey Johnson was commited to Texas Tech at one time and flipped to Kansas State. Johnson leads the team in TFL 6th in tackles and had 2 TFL against Auburn. Just a good cog if nothing else. A very good cog. And truthfully, Jonathan Truman is a better linebacker from a production standpoint, but Johnson has been pretty good as a senior.

3) CB Danzel McDaniel (6-1/205): A really nice sized cornerback that plays really well. At 6-1, McDaniel is a really productive member of the sedonary and he's already the 4th best tackler on the team, has an interception and a forced fumble.

3. Three Keys to the Game.

1) Find the Weak Spots. Kansas State is by no means a perfect team. Kansas tate is giving up close to 200 yards a game against teams that don't pass all that well. Heck, the Wildcats gave up 200 passing yards to UTEP and allowed Showers to complete 65% of his passes. Iowa State averages about 200 yards a game and they got all 200. Not only that, but they've also given up 8 touchdowns and only recoreded 2 interceptions, and have given up 2 touchdowns each game, except for SFA. There's room there to get some yards.

2) Anyone But Lockett and Waters. Mike Smith said that Lockett was the key and I'd be remiss not to mention Tyler Lockett, but this is a special teams concern. Just kick it anywhere other than giving it to Tyler Lockett. This team cannot afford to give up any special teams touchdowns to Lockett, so this is on Darrin Chiaverini. Chiaverini did a terrific job of containing the kickoff returns against Tyreek Hill and almost zero punt return yards. But let's just not take that chance. Kick the ball into the endzone and punt the ball out of bounds, if Texas Tech has to punt at all (this really won't happen).

3) Let the Line and Runners Carry the Ball. The line and the running backs have been fantastic, so this will absolutely be a battle of wills between a stout defensive line and an improved offensive line. Kansas State's defensive ends aren't huge, in the 250 range and the tackles are in the 290 range. This means that Alfredo Morales and Le'Raven Clark need to terrific on the left side and ReShod Fortenberry needs to be better, much better, containing Mueller on that side of the field (I think this is the case). Fortenberry didn't have the best game against Oklahoma State, but he has to be better. And as far as the running backs are concerned, Justin Stockton has come back down to earth a bit, but he could still be really dangerous on the outside. And we all need to appreciate how DeAndre Washington is averaging over 5 yards a carry with over 50c carries thus far this year and near 300 yards. Give the ball to Washington.

4. Two Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Win.

1) K-State Hasn't Seen This. I mention this above, about how Kansas State really hasn't seen a passing offense thus far this year, although Stephen F. Austin is a passing offense in a sense, just not to the caliber that Texas Tech traditionally is. The biggest thing is that Kansas State plays some pretty big cornerbacks and there has to be a game where some of the wide receivers do something. Yeah, they need to do something. The light needs to click on for Reginald Davis and Dylan Cantrell and they simply need to be significantly better than their counterparts. there is no doubt that this has to happen for Texas Tech to win.

2) It Has to Click. At some point, it simply has to click for this team. As much as the light should go on for the receivers mentioned above, we're really talking about a team-wide light that needs to click on. At some point, rather than the coaches taking responsibility for the penalties and mistakes, the players really have to do something about it. Yes, do something about how everyone is writing about how this team can't play mistake-free football. If Texas Tech can even remotely come close to playing mistake-free football, there's no reason that this game can't be close. If I had to guess, Vegas is pretty much giving opponents 7 points just because of the penalties, which Texas Tech is averaging over 100 yards a game. Bill Parcels always said that 100 yards of penalties or return yards is worth 7 points. Texas Tech can get those hidden yards and really are terrific at returning the ball, they just get those danged penalties to negate it. That's the flip that has to happen.

5. Two Reasons Why Texas Tech Will Lose.

1) History Has a Tendancy to Repeat Itself. I mention above the idea that the script needs to flip, but on the opposite end of this, this just very well may be what Texas Tech actually is, a team that turns the ball over in droves and averages 100 yards of penalties a game. So far, that has been true and it hasn't even been close. Interestingly, Kansas State isn't exactly on the positive end of the turnover margin, which is really interesting, K-State is -2 for the year in turnovers, but that's so much more misleading that Texas Tech because they haven't created a ton of turnovers, but they have only turned the ball over 5 times, compared to 9 for Texas Tech that is -5 on the season.

2) Balance on Offense. The balance on offense is what scares the you-kno-what out of me. Waters is patient, I've talked about Jones being patient and you know that Snyder is going to eventually figure it out offensively, how to exploit Texas Tech's defense. Mike Smith will have a tall task of stopping Kansas State and as mentioned above, it isn't just one guy, it's a group of them that are creating pressure points that just turn into points and more points and more points.