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The Film Room Previews: The Kansas State Wildcats

Let's get bowl eligible, please.

The Kansas State Wildcats are in the middle of a rare down year for legendary coach Bill Snyder. They're 3-5 and coming off a brutal stretch of pretty much all the ranked teams in the Big XII with Texas thrown in there. They've lost all of those games. This is a team that is missing superstars like Tyler Lockett and Ryan Mueller, and it shows. These teams play very well as a unit, but they don't have the same type of talent that can bust a game wide open. Their strategy is based around waiting on you to make a mistake, then capitalizing. Their ability to not make mistakes isn't what has been hurting, but rather their ability to capitalize.

WEEKLY PLAYLIST:

Ain't That A Kick In The Head - Dean Martin

Come Fly With Me - Frank Sinatra

Home On The Range - Tom Roush

WTF IS THIS - Domestic Policy Rap - Some dude on the internet

Bring On The Cats - JFK

OFFENSE: Something I Like To Call "Power-Spread"

K-State utilizes a lot of formations, but not necessarily a lot of plays. I call this offense the "Power-Spread" because it has spread tendencies and attributes, but it's based around the ability to run power plays, specifically with the quarterback. It doesn't matter who KSU starts. Their players are interchangeable cogs in a Bill Snyder death machine. His quarterbacks can throw adequately, and they rarely turn it over. His running backs are never truly home run hitters, but they do the job well. I hate saying this because I think it's a stupid cliche, but they really are hard nosed, lunch pail, 110%, first in last out, and whatever coachspeak bull you want to label them as. If any team fits that billing, it's Bill Snyder's Wildcats.

DEFENSE: 4-3 But We'll See Something Like A 4-2-5

Just based on the way we do things, we're going to see more or less the same personnel groupings each week. It just depends on how the other team utilizes them. Will they fake blitzing and drop 8 like WVU? Or are we facing another really blitzy multiple front like OU? The answer for K-State is in between. They'll bring a little pressure, but they won't bring it so often that we can prepare for it every down. KSU is really good at fooling people into bad situations. LB Elijah Lee jumps out on tape, this kid can really play well. If we're going to run the ball, we have to get him blocked every single down.

WHY I'M WORRIED:

The Purple Necromancer is always a tough guy to play. His teams play very disciplined, which is like the opposite of how our teams play right now. KSU gives everyone their best shot, and we can expect to get a full haymaker on Saturday as they fight to get bowl eligible too. No matter who is quarterbacking Bill Snyder's Power Spread Death Machine, KSU is going to run the ball pretty well. Seeing as how that's our biggest weakness, we have plenty of cause to be worried.

WHY I'M NOT WORRIED:

It's senior day, and apparently our guys have been really excited and flying around in practice. While the KSU secondary is good, they aren't as good as WVU's, and I expect to be able to pass the ball a lot better. If we can channel our rushing defense from the OSU game (where we held them to under 50 in the first half and under 200 for the game), I think we have a fairly good chance at coming out with a victory. Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton, heir to the English Throne, aren't around anymore, and that's hurt K-State's receiving core significantly. This game is at home, and we just play better at home.

HOW WE MATCH UP:

Kansas State's defense is very fundamentally sound, but I still think we can fool them with a couple of small little tricks, like using motion to our benefit.

The way TCU toys with the defense with men in motion is something we do as well, and an area where I think we can damage K-State. They're a very disciplined team, but the downside of that rigid structure is that when teams with speed get a crease, they can score pretty quickly. KSU doesn't overreact to men in motion, but they move just far enough to give us that crease, and guys like Jakeem Grant, Justin Stockton, and DeAndre Washington are capable of taking it to the house on anyone.

On this play, the running back motioning to the flat takes the weak side linebacker ever so slightly out of the picture. For Aaron Green of TCU, it's all the space he needs. By the time the weak side linebacker is able to diagnose the play and attempt to fill the hole, Green is in the second level of the defense, challenging the safeties. The safeties weren't expecting the play to hit that fast, one of them takes a poor angle to the ball, and it's off to the races. Motion doesn't seem to be something that Kliff utilizes a lot, but I really think he should at least take a peek at it this week. The KSU base defense is a pretty tough nut to crack, and we're going to need to at least attempt to fool them if we want to gain positive yards.

When we pass, Kansas State is going to crash our receivers hard and try to cause a drop. This is very troubling, because we already struggle with catching the ball. If we get a couple of catches in the red zone last week, the final score against WVU might be a little different. This route combination from TCU is very similar to something we would run against this coverage, and the speed that the linebackers crash on the stop route is insanely good. If the last play was evidence that KSU's disciplined defense can be broken, this play is evidence that it happens much less often than we would hope. Every single player with the exception of the slot receiver on the right is covered until the second Boykin releases the ball, and it takes a Herculean catch from the wideout to even gain positive yards on the play.

On Offense, KSU isn't exactly what we expect. They're going to spread the field out, but they're doing it so that they can pound the rock up the middle. I'm refusing to use the read option in this section this week, just know that we will see it until we prove we can stop it.

QB Joe Huber doesn't just lead the Wildcats in passing, he leads them in rushing as well, and plays like this are a big reason why. Ever since the football playing horse otherwise known as Collin Klein, Kansas State has loved their QB power plays a little more than usual. It makes sense, Hubener is a big, strong dude who has a semblance of wheels on him. The O-Line is fairly good at blocking on these plays, but the guys that we should be scared of are in the backfield. KSU's fullbacks and running backs absolutely excel at blocking. They're massive, mean, and they don't ever quit. On this play, watch the right side of TCU's line just disintegrate minus the pulling guard getting hit in the mouth by the linebacker. The O-Line chugs along and makes some blocks, but the block that sprung Hubener was thrown by #38, Winston Dimel, who is only a freshman. KSU might not be the most talented, biggest, fastest, or strongest, but they are going to slap you around if you don't bring the wood every play. Taking on and defeating blocks is a weak point of our defense. We need to be able to shake some of these blocks if we want to win.

We all know how K-State loves their run-pass options. If we can get them into no win situations in those, we'll have a good chance at winning the game. They do it all, pop passes, QB Power/Slants, the whole shebang.

Right here, we see TCU do something that we are not good at: staying at home when the option is presented. Here KSU has 3 options. Hit the TE in the left flat, hit the WRs running go routes, or take the ball up the middle. Everyone on the TCU does their job and nothing more, and the play is stopped for no gain. Against us, we might see about 3 guys covering the TE and no one in the middle to spy the QB, or 3 QB spies and no one on the TE. Against the Wildcats we're going to have to play with a lot of discipline. They're beatable, but we absolutely cannot make the same mistakes we've been making if we want to win.

When KSU passes the ball, they mainly utilize double moves off of stop routes. Unless they're running a very clear go or deep post route, every KSU receiver gives a fake back to the line of scrimmage at around 7 yards. It fits in perfectly with their nickel and dime strategy, and it works pretty well. I really feel like this is something we can exploit though, as our defense is engineered to kind of allow this to happen. We're going to give you the underneath route, hit you, and then force you to catch it with a helmet in your back. I really hope that we can play aggressive on these underneath routes and not be too totally concerned with being hit up deep. Nigel Bethel and Thierry Nguema are more than capable of covering these at least adequately.

THE VERDICT:

On the surface, Kansas State looks like a team that is tailor made to beat us. However, there are some weaknesses that I really hope we can exploit. If we can rush out to a fast start, I'm not sure that the 2015 Wildcats can come back fast enough. They've lost some serious firepower since last year on offense and defense, and if we can utilize some openings we have a real chance to win. I'm giving the edge to Texas Tech based on the fact that we're at home and we just play better in Lubbock, the black hole of good football.. Everything else is a push.

SCORE PREDICTION:

Texas Tech 48, Kansas State 42