Cats prepare for big-time offense

K-State faces off against the No. 1 offense in the nation on Saturday. See what Coach Bill Snyder and players had to say about the challenge ahead of them.

56, 80, 63, 30, 34. No, they aren't the jersey numbers of Texas Tech's team captains. Those five numbers represent the number of points Texas Tech has scored in their last five games, respectively.

Because the Texas Tech offensive system is unlike any other in the Big 12, Snyder said some extra focus must be put on preparing for the game. With a packed schedule as it is, when do players or coaches find extra time to prepare for such a system? "During the summer months, during the off-season months, in spring practice," Snyder said. "During your 29 preseason practice days, you'll spend some time with this and other opponents as well."

The typical fan may watch the Red Raiders play, and recognize the difference in play calling, with four- or five-receiver sets being commonplace, but not realize the true difference in systems. What makes the Texas Tech system so different? "The schemes they run are pretty consistent, and you'll find them in different programs," Snyder said. "What you won't fine is the uniqueness in spacing between their offensive linemen."

Snyder said the way most teams attempt to defend Tech's system is very similar, thus the Red Raiders really only have to work on running their offense against certain defensive schemes.

"I'm quite confident that they work on virtually everything they could see, week in and week out," Snyder said. "They just get better, and better and better at it, because they get more and more repetitions."

Anyone who knows college football knows that Texas Tech will pass the ball, but Snyder said defending against the run would be key as well. "You've got to make sure that you can still defend against the run game," Snyder said.

"Henderson is a good running back. He could play at a lot of places. If you get yourself out of kilter with your spacing, and put too big of space between your adjacent defenders, then you open up running lanes - now they kill you with that, and that's the thing that you can't afford to have happen."

So against the best passing team in the nation, the top thing to stop is the running game? Not exactly. Snyder said pass defense is vital, but one has to expect some passes to get through.

"As silly as it sounds, you need to make sure you don't stretch yourself out and get beat on the running game, I think, number one," Snyder said. "Number two, you have to understand that there's going to be some completed passes in this ballgame. (Hodges) is not going to go 0-for-anything. You've got to be able to tackle well, and you got to keep people in the vicinity, so they don't get those gargantuan plays."

Cornerback Bryan Baldwin, the lone defensive player available to the media on Tuesday, said the key will be "having each other's backs."

Baldwin said, whether they're in man or zone coverage, the defensive backs will be ready to defend receivers as long as they have to, and they know the defensive line will do all they can to get to the quarterback.

Saturday will be a true test of whether or not this defense deserves the Lynch Mob moniker. Granted, they can't be expected to hold Tech to three points, but the defense has got to make enough plays to allow the offense to conceivably stay in the game.

Unfortunately, that means the Red Raiders cannot be allowed to even approach their average of 52 points per game. In two Big 12 contests, Tech has averaged 32 points per game.

The Cats have surpassed that number just twice this season. It seems the Wildcat defense needs to hold the Red Raiders to under 30 points to truly give K-State a chance to upset the No. 11 Red Raiders.

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