What do we now know about Kansas St?
First, Alessana Alessana has not yet run amok. Prince has kept a tight grip on his mana in the snow globe and continues to give him a steady diet of atracurium darts to his thorax whenever he makes Maori eyes at the Wildcat waterboy.
Second, they're also 2-1 after three games, which is better than being 0-3, 1-2, or getting an atracurium dart in the thorax.
Third, Wildcat fans continue to be the only fan base in the Big 12 that still wears acid-washed jeans with some regularity. If Okies and Iowa St fans can outdress you, you're in need of a sartorial overhaul.
So, those three things tell us a lot. Almost everything really.
Kansas State's moment in the sun was losing a nail-biter with a mediocre Auburn team that we weren't sure was actually that bad at the time. Until we got to see Brandon Cox try to throw a football again. Suddenly a gutty, commendable loss to a SEC power morphed into a run-of-the-mill defeat to the eventual loser of the FemNor Pap Smear Bowl. Retrospective context is a bitch. After Ron Prince planted shoe leather in asses, KSU rallied to easy wins over San Jose St 34-14 and Missouri St 61-10, which was good for their psyche and statistics. Unfortunately, none of us know who the flip Missouri State is and San Jose St also lost to Arizona St 45-3 and was blanked by mighty Stanford 37-0.
Let's dig into a few facts of interest that you may not find in the headlines:
The Cats start strong. Particularly on defense. They're winning the first quarter 34-0 so far this year. This may not be the week for Greg Davis to run three series of exploratory east/west offense before getting serious in the mid 2nd quarter
The near-mythical Jordy Nelson is healthy and playing well. He is the KSU pass offense with 30 catches for 381 yards (127 yards per game). He is also 2 for 2 passing for 45 yards and 2 TDs making his passer rating eleventy billion. KSU also had two weeks to prepare for this game. Do you think we might see a WR pass/run option play? Nah! Tell those safeties to bite hard, Chizik style!
Freeman has stopped giving/eating free lunches and has cut down on his mistakes (and snacking) substantially with only four interceptions in 132 attempts. He also dropped 20 pounds from his summer high of 265. He's taking what the defense gives him, particularly anything that smells like bacon
127 yards per game, baby
Kansas State is playing great defense against bad offense. It remains to be seen if they can play great defense against above average offense. We'll know Saturday. They're giving up 258.3 ypg and only 3.8 yards per play and have already compiled 13 sacks and 29 TFL, so getting pressure is no issue for them from their 3-4. Their front 7 is smallish, fast, and multiple. They sprint through gaps, they play in your backfield, and they're pretty good at getting hits on your QB without bringing the entire house. We need to punish that aggression with our own down the field.
They average 133 yards in penalties per game. Yeah, seriously. You have to be f'ing kidding me. These penalties come from two primary sources: personal fouls on defense (which speaks to aggression bordering on stupidity) and holding on offense (which speaks to the fact that a subpar OL clings more than ecstacy users at a Phish concert). Given the aforementioned, the fact that this game is being played in Austin is not insignificant - particularly if you get some officials of the "I swallow whistles when I sense an upset" variety. However, a game in Texas suggests a 25% chance of total implosion with 345 yards in penalties and Ron Prince driving a headset into an assistant's cloaca
The colonics helped
Special teams continue to be a Kansas State strength, particularly in the punt game. The punter averages 44.6 per kick, the FG kicker is 6 for 6 on the year and the punt return team averages an excellent 23.6 per return while allowing only 9.9. Kickoffs are net wash for them. This should be an area of focus and interest for us as it's clear that Kansas St has the ability to manufacture points and give your offense a long field. This might be the most neglected area for analysis in this matchup; it's worth noting - so note it
We're just playing our game. What's the flippin' problem?
So what does this all mean, Clive?
Live by pressure, die by pressure.
Texas best manifests a downfield passing game when other teams bring the house. But drop everyone back and we'll explore the directions of east and west in our passing game. We become manageable. The game will get uncomfortably tight and could allow a special teams play to swing it.
For KSU, Freeman is a strong-armed tough QB who will take a major (late) hit (Killebrew) and still deliver a strike down the field. And we have just the size-compromised group of corners that scream for a stiff arm and a trample in isolation. Mindlessly blitzing him as we did last year is folly. If we can manufacture a little pressure at key moments and concede their short passing game without giving 19 yard cushions, KSU's scoring output will shift heavily to a reliance on special teams and defense. Unlikely candidates to carry the day by themselves. Penalty/turnover/cloaca with clipboard implosion will commence.
What are your thoughts?