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Texas - Kansas State Preview

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I watched Daniel Thomas Kansas State a couple of times this year and they're a scrappy, if somewhat limited, team. They're definitely a hell of a lot better coached than we are on offense and they've not evidenced much trouble handling the Longhorns even when we had solid teams. They own us, right?

Like Iowa State and Baylor, their defense has been miserable all year, but given that those teams held us to 21.5 ppg, I'm not sure if that's really all that encouraging.

As it has in every game this year, the game result relies almost entirely on our defense and the ability of our offense and special teams not to shoot themselves in the foot. If they can hit some lay-ups, we can certainly go in and get a win.

Should we lose this game, we go under .500 for the year, we'd still be two games from bowl eligibility, and we'd match the loss total of the last three years combined. With those cheery thoughts, let's talk KSU.

Offense

Let me see if I can adequately summarize the KSU offense:

- Daniel Thomas from wildcat, lead draw
- Daniel Thomas, zone read
- Daniel Thomas, counter, from the I
- Fake to Daniel Thomas, Carson Coffman skips ball nine feet from Aubrey Quarles
- Daniel Thomas from wildcat, zone read
- Fake to Daniel Thomas, Carson Coffman throws to Daniel Thomas in flat
- Daniel Thomas serves Gatorade to teammates
- Daniel Thomas sells programs and tickets to Manhattan Turnip Jamboree
- Daniel Thomas counsels concessions manager to restock mustard
- Daniel Thomas, HB lead draw
- Carson Coffman fakes to Daniel Thomas, keeps ball

Rinse, wash, repeat.

QB

Carson Coffman is a bus driver. And when I say a bus driver, I mean an overweight African-American woman who hums Teddy Pendergrass gospel tunes and won't hesitate to redden your ass if you act a fool. He's pretty much like Shirley Hemphill from What's Happening.

178-118-1315 - 8td - 6 int

His numbers aren't horrendous (a hell of a lot better than ours), but everything he does is built off of the overplay on Daniel Thomas. He's 6-5 and lanky. He'll run a little bit and does so somewhat capably, but he looks a like a giant enraged goose when he does it.

RB

Daniel Thomas is the team. 196-996-10tds-5.1 average. He's 6-2, 230 and more athletic than straight line fast. That's why he's so dangerous in the Wildcat - he searches out seams, plants, and then rips off 15 yards. Sneaky strong in that he doesn't bulldoze people, but he does shrug off glancing blows and he'll run right through arm tackles with powerful hips. He's a big slasher and he's always looking for the cutback lane. LB discipline will be huge and I don't like him on our safeties. He's too big and athletic in the open field. Get him stopped before he starts - that's the key to the game.

His back-up, Powell, is an explosive runner and a nice change-up pitch for them.

WR/TE

Quarles (33-434-3tds) is the only true reliable receiver and he's having a good year. Otherwise, K State flips it out to Thomas. There are some other guys who are reasonably wide open sometimes and Carson Coffman usually delivers it to them on a short hop fielder's choice. With Aaron Williams likely out or this game and Curtis Brown struggling with a bad back, a Quarles-Chykie showdown will happen at some stage. Chykie - take the 15 yard pass interference, dude.

OL

Not many stars next to these guys when they came out of high school and/or JUCO but they're effective blocking for Thomas largely because of the diversity of Snyder's running schemes and the fact that they have a system and running identity. They use angles, formation, movement, down blocking, and timing to make their running game go and if you gang up on the run, they'll try to hit you over the top. They don't pass block well in traditional passing situations and opponents have racked up 18 sacks on the year so far.

Get KSU in 3rd and 7+ and we're in good shape.

They do hit an athletic wall against better quality fronts and that was well-evidenced against Nebraska and UCF. I expect us to give them problems - particularly from Acho and Randall - but we have to keep them from hitting the big play. Sure tackling from the safety position and capable play from our #2 DT is the key there.

With an offense likely incapable of forcing KSU out of their game plan, KSU will be able to wear us down as the game goes on. If we were able to jump out to a lead, this is a team you can blow out. But we can't. So expect a slog. If we're sloppy, a UCLA style 2nd half meltdown is entirely possible.

Defense

Bad defense. Base nickel 4-2-5. They're surrendering 25.6 ppg and it's worse than that - as evidenced by 438 ypg and 6.2 yards per opponent play. They offered up 47 to Baylor and 48 to the Cornhuskers. They held down OSU to 24, but that was without Justin Blackmon and OSU ran up and down the field with 511 yards of offense utilizing Bo Bowling as their #1 WR. The other offenses KSU faced were rather weak and any offense with a pulse dropped 500+ yards on them. We did nothing against ISU and Baylor's miserable defenses, so I'm not confident we'll do much better than 20-24 points. The real key is whether our offense slits our own throat in the process.

DL

An unexceptional group on the whole. The interior DL is smallish, but I'm not sure we have the patience or desire to do much about that. They're allowing 5.7 yards per rush. That's not a mistype.

6-6 260 pound DE Brandon Harold looked fantastic as a freshman and he has immense talent, but he's a little off this year. I'm not sure what's up. The other DE is undersized and they've had trouble getting pressure on the QB rushing 4 all year.

Again, 5.7 yards per rush. Take out sack yardage and this front 7 is surrendering 6 and half yards a pop on the ground. If we can't run the ball on them - or don't even try to do so - I'm driving to Best Buy for a new TV because my old one will have a hiking shoe embedded in the screen. So, looks like I'm getting a new TV.

LB

The leading tackler is Hrebec. We meet again, Hrebec! I will take SWORDS for $500!

He's 5-11, 250 and straight out of central casting for the Big 10. I bet Greg Davis notices this and attacks him in pass coverage. Ha ha. Just kidding.

The other LB is a JAG.

DB

David Garrett is a dynamite little player that they like to bring on blitzes and stunts. He's 5-8 175 but will still rock you. He has 3 sacks, 8.5 tfl, and a Napoleonic complex.

S Tysyn Hartman lacks vowels and coverage ability in space. He's a big safety and we should make some effort to exploit that.

The DBs have been OK for K-State given their pass rush deficiencies, but crack coverage guys they are not.

Overall

This is a very poor defense, paired with an under-talented, but productive offense, led by one of the best coaches in college football. Our teams are very much comparable in performance, but KSU is maximizing what they have while we are brutal underachievers. We can absolutely beat this team if we will attack KSU's glaring deficiencies in run defense and then use their overcompensation to make the passing game go. I fear that we're not capable of doing that.

On defense, KSU can be effective against us running the ball if our offense allows them to remain stubborn. If we can duplicate what we did against NU on offense - play smart, don't turn it over, convert early short field TDs, the defense could very well dominate. If we keep it close and allow KSU to try out their Swiss Army Knife of running game looks on us for four quarters, I expect our dam to burst late.