5 Ways Texas Can Conquer Kansas State
By Steve Lansdale
On paper, it would seem Saturday’s Big 12 matchup between Texas and Kansas State would be tilted heavily in the Longhorns’ favor. After all, the Longhorns just picked up back-to-back victories over ranked USC and TCU teams, and the Wildcats are 2-2 after getting thumped, 35-6, Saturday at West Virginia.
But the Longhorns rarely have had an easy time with the Wildcats, who hold a 10-8 edge over UT in the all-time series between the schools. After stumbling out of the gates with a loss to Maryland, how can UT grab its fourth consecutive victory?
Yes, that sounds a bit simplistic, but it’s true. There’s a phrase that “offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” That may be true, but a strong defensive performance Saturday in Manhattan will go a long way toward a Texas victory. [place_ad_1]
In four games this season, K-State has allowed 107 points. Broken down further, the Wildcats have given up an average of 20.5 points in their two victories, and 33 in their victories. More telling is the production of the KSU offense, which is averaging 34 points in the Wildcats’ victories and just 8 points in their losses. The Longhorns should be able to put up some points in Manhattan, so if their defense can stifle a sometimes-lethargic Kansas State offense, their chances improve dramatically.
Let Sam Ehlinger run
Kansas State defensive tackle Joe Davis said this week that "the quarterbacks that we see at Texas are more of a pocket passer, but they will move around, kind of similar to (West Virginia’s) Will Grier, in terms of scrambling to extend the play. We're seeing them more as a pocket passer than a scrambler."
Really? Perhaps Davies — a junior this season — forgot last year’s 40-34 Texas victory over KSU, in which Ehlinger was UT’s leading rusher, with 20 carries for 107 yards (5.4 yards per carry).
KSU head coach Bill Snyder has not won 210 games in his career by being forgetful, and will remind his team this week that Ehlinger is a legitimate running threat.
"He is a well-rounded quarterback that can do a lot of things — he is very athletic,” Snyder said this week. “He can throw the ball. They will throw the ball short, but they will put the ball downfield and take their shots depending on how well they are doing over the course of the ballgame. His athletic ability is good. He is a big, physical guy who can run. The quarterback run game hurt us last year. His scrambling and quarterback draws hurt us last year. He is versatile enough to impact all phases of the game and can manage the game quite well, too."
So Snyder knows Ehlinger can run, and odds are it has come up in film study and team meetings. But Ehlinger’s mobility could add an extra layer of firepower to the Texas offense.
Take the crowd out of it
Kansas State has averaged 50,155 (announced) fans per home game this season, and Texas head coach Tom Herman was right when he told the media about Kansas State’s loyal fans. The Wildcat faithful are a dedicated lot, showing up in droves, regardless of weather or the team’s record.
But they also are human. Get a sizable lead on the Wildcats and the cheers for the home team will be less frequent and less loud. Deflate the crowd and the team comes down a few notches, too.
Make the Wildcats continue their 2017 offense
In other words, keep the Wildcats inconsistent. Only once has KSU eclipsed the 34 points it scored against Texas last year (scoring 41 against Texas-San Antonio), and only twice have the Wildcats scored more than 10.
“We have not really established an identity,” Snyder said. “With a 2-2 start last year, we will have something to compare it with, quite obviously, when we get through the next few ballgames. Watching tape of last year's ballgame with Texas and watching our offense, which is mostly the same people, and you go back and it was a close ballgame. We lost that game on a penalty in the second overtime, so offensively we did alright." [place_ad_1]
We played reasonably well against a good Texas defensive football team. To me, there is not any reason why we should not be a better team from an offensive standpoint, being able to score as readily as we did and to move the ball enough to score 40 points or whatever the number was. It has not happened. There are all these things that need to be corrected, and I know that, but we identify the problems and we work hard at trying to get them corrected and the players work hard at trying to get them corrected. It does not remain consistent and they pop back up again. It is developing that consistency and being able to improve very improvable mistakes.”
Give the Wildcats reason to question their chances
Kansas State offensive lineman Adam Holtorf acknowledged that for an offense still trying to work out the kinks, the Texas defensive front could be a formidable foe.
"They've always been physical guys up front,” Holtorf said, “(a) great defensive front to try and play against. We know the challenge it presents, being they've been so successful against the run and not allowing yardage. That just increases the challenge. We know we've been struggling in the run game, and here's a great team that's been playing really well against the run. It makes that challenge even greater for us."