After Texas Tech's lackluster but sensational performance last week against TCU, the Red Raiders should have no trouble finding teaching points to work on for the Kansas State Wildcats. K-State is a very determined football team. The Wildcats are determined to play good defense, determined not to make any mistakes, and determined to win. For Texas Tech to overcome that determination of Kansas State, they'll have to put together the most complete game of the season.
Passing game: TTU receivers vs. KSU secondary. I think the game goes similarly to the TCU game in that both sides will make plays. The K-State secondary is good enough to match up against the outside receivers, picking off 5 passes the last 2 weeks off of Dayne Crist of Kansas (not so impressive) and Geno Smith of West Virginia (very impressive). Landry Jones threw for 298 yards against K-State without much of a running game (116 yards), so the ball can be moved on them. The matchup to watch against the K-State secondary, however, is the inside receivers. It could be another important weekend for Alex Torres, Tyson Williams and Austin Zouzalik. (I don't expect Amaro to play.) Sterling Shepard had over 100 yards receiving for OU versus K-State, mostly through underneath routes. This may be an opportunity for Jakeem Grant to make some plays as well.
Running game: Tech O-Line vs. KSU D-Line. With the exception of the Kenny Williams 47 yard TD run, the running game sputtered versus TCU and since conference play began, the only substantial performance was against West Virginia which most Tech fans would agree was the best overall team performance of the year. We all know it starts up front and the OL have to establish themselves at the line of scrimmage. I don't know it K-State is as good on the DL as TCU, but they play well together are only allowing 3.2 yards per carry.
"We did struggle with running the ball a little bit (against TCU)," said Seth Doege "But I know those guys bounce back. Those guys will take it personal. The running backs and the offensive line and the run game, and we'll be better this weekend."
Most important matchup: Run Defense - Texas Tech linebackers vs. Colin Klein. This is where the game will be won or lost. Last week versus TCU, the linebackers were out of position a lot of the time and that allowed Trevone Boykin to run the zone read with his running backs. Klein does this better than Boykin does, and John Hubert is as good of a back as there is in the Big 12. The linebackers can play a little more aggressively against Klein and K-State because Klein won't (and doesn't want to) throw as much as Boykin did last week. The receivers for K-State also aren't as good as the receivers for TCU. In order for Texas Tech to win, the linebackers have to stick with their assignments and not give up any or many big plays as they did to the Frogs.
"They (linebackers) have played some good games," said Tuberville. "Last week they were out of position. For some reason we just did not look confident in stopping the run. People are going to throw the ball and make plays. But you know your linebackers have to play run first. We just looked like we were in a different world Saturday compared to the other games where we've played some good running teams and played pretty well."
Pass defense: Outside linebackers vs. KSU TE and possession WR. Klein's favorite target is the TE Tannahill. The OLBs have to not only play run first, but also not let the TE get loose on 3rd down and short. The entire defense has to keep the play in front of them and not allow any receiver or back to have the yardage they skill position players did for TCU or Oklahoma.
Special Teams: Tyler Lockett versus TT Kick Coverage. Bill Snyder loves special teams, we all know this. Last year, Lockett changed the course of the game against the Red Raiders with 2 big kick returns including a 100 yarder. K-State also blocked 2 field goal attempts a year ago. Special team can't win this game for you, but Tech fans remember it can definitely be a factor in losing. Also maybe Tech attempts another onside kick this week in an attempt to keep Klein and the clock grinding offense off the field.
Keys to the game:
1) No turnovers. KSU is +13 in turnover margin this year. Including the blocked kicks, last year KState forced 5 turnovers versus the Red Raiders. One reason Tech was lucky to be in the game last week after playing bad in spurts was because they didn't turn the ball over. Hold onto the ball.
2) Contain the QB. Easier said than done, I know, and in this case getting to the QB means both with pressure in passing as well as running situations. On Sunday, we'll look at how many times Klein was tackled for a 2 yard or less gain.
3) Win first down. Tech can go along way with dictating how much Klein runs if they hold the wildcats to 3 yards or less on first down. An opponent's entire playbook is open on 2nd and 3 or less. It's very limited on 3rd and 7.
4) Red Zone TDs: Tech and K-State are within a percentage point of one another in red zone efficiency at about 88%. K-State, however, has attempted nearly twice as many field goals in the red zone as Tech. I think Snyder will be content early to kick if Tech stops them, and the Red Raiders have to take advantage of that with TD. Another reason they won Saturday is because they were aggressive when it counted and didn't settle for field goals.