|KEY KANSAS STATE STATS|
|SCORING OFFENSE||39.8 PPG||No. 27|
|YARDS PER PUNT RETURN||24.7||No. 4|
|FG PERCENTAGE||55.6%||No. 102|
|PENALTY YARDS PER GAME||36.8||No. 16|
|TURNOVER MARGIN||-2||No. 95|
|YARDS ALLOWED PER RUSH||2.69||No. 10|
|YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME||308||No. 18|
|YARDS ALLOWED PER PUNT RETURN||18.6||No. 121|
The matchup between Texas Tech and Kansas State is one filled with mystery and intrigue. And obviously, the status of Tech’s quarterback situation is at the center of the drama.
Davis Webb suffered a shoulder injury in the second half of Tech’s loss to Oklahoma State last week, and the notoriously uncommunicative Red Raider football program has successfully kept Webb’s status in total doubt. And truthfully, Tech’s chances against the Wildcats hinge on Webb not only being able to play, but being close to 100 percent healthy.
The reason for Webb’s utter importance is simple: he is far and away Tech’s best passing quarterback (by virtue of his mastery of the complete playbook, if nothing else), and the Red Raiders must pass the ball very effectively to have a shot.
If Webb is unable to go, Tech (2-2, 0-1 in the Big 12) will rely on true freshman Patrick Mahomes to shoulder—so to speak—the load. The problem is, at this point Mahomes appears to be a threat primarily as a runner, and the K-State defense is rugged as can be against the run. Young Mahomes’ strength, therefore, plays into the strength of the Wildcats (3-1, 1-0).
But if Webb has made a full recovery, Tech’s hopes brighten considerably. For while KSU is murder against the run, they are much softer against the pass. Hence, the Wildcats don’t bring great pressure against the passer (No. 97 in sacks); they don’t pick off many passes (No. 101 in that category), and are only No. 85 in pass efficiency defense. Thus, if Webb is ready to go and the Tech offense doesn't turn the ball over (no sure thing), this game could be interesting.
On the other side of the ball, the Red Raiders will certainly face a stiff test, but probably nothing more formidable than what they saw against Oklahoma State, and certainly nothing as daunting as the Arkansas rushing attack.
KSU averages 39.8 points per game, which seems like a great deal, but that number is only 27th best nationally, which goes to show how much of an offensive game college football has become. The Wildcat offense is extremely balanced, but is not especially potent either passing or running. Tyler Lockett is the headliner, but he has had a less than stellar season, dropping more than his fair share of passes. Unheralded Curry Sexton is playing almost as well as Lockett.
Special teams play will be something to watch in this one. Both teams have been atrocious in the field goal kicking game, which will be important if the game is close in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats are among the nation’s best in punt returns, averaging 24.7 yards per return, but are among the worst in punt coverage, allowing 18.6 yards per take-back. The Red Raiders have been very solid in punt coverage, and have improved in the punt return game, whenever they don’t commit a penalty, that is.
Speaking of penalties, the Wildcats are No. 16 in penalty yardage per game, while the Red Raiders are dead last in that category. If that disparity holds true in the game, it could easily be enough to derail Tech’s upset hopes.