This weekend’s matchup against Kansas State is one that is going to show HC Matt Wells and Texas Tech football once again under a microscope. Going into this game, many feel as if this is our best chance at becoming bowl eligible in the 2021 season. Heading into town is a Kansas State team that is looking for an identity. Quite like Texas Tech, the Wildcats are very much hit or miss. Of recent, they’ve been more miss than hit. They’ve dropped 3 straight games in conference after going 3-0 in noncon. Going back to last season, they’re on an 8 game Big XII Conference skid with their last win being against the Kansas Jayhawks last October.
In terms of importance, this game must be circled on the calendar as a must win, with a gauntlet of a Big XII schedule remaining. Matt Wells needs to go 1-0 this week, and win a game in front of a home crowd at The Jones. Let’s take a quick look at the Kansas State Wildcats.
Quarterback Skylar Thompson is a Texas Tech killer, and he will be suiting up for the Wildcats after an injury early in the season. Although his stat line against Texas Tech doesn’t jump off the page at you, he has shown that he can handle this team and control the game (2-0 record, 3-0 if you count last year’s game). This will be his third start since coming back from injury, and the 6th year Senior looks to continue to build a great resume against the Red Raiders. In his last two starts this year since coming back from injury he’s combined for 526 yards in the air and 5 TD’s. He’s been limited on his rushing attempts or scrambling out of the pocket due to injury. In addition, the Wildcats are going to look to be a run heavy offense with our known defensive woes with stopping the run. They have just the man to do it too in Sophomore, Deuce Vaughn. Although only suiting up against Tech just once, Deuce has seen just how fun it can be to face Texas Tech going for 113 yrds on 16 carries last year, with a TD. He also had 81 yards receiving and a TD in that game too. Deuce will likely get a lot of touches in this game and try to repeat his performance against the Red Raiders. Also, they just don’t have too many weapons that are hot right now. They only have a few options that can really hurt us outside of Deuce. To have a successful game, the Wildcats need to try and get others going. A few potential X-factors to look out for are Junior receivers Malik Knowles and Phillip Brooks. At TE, big 6-4 Daniel Imatorbhebhe can be a target for Thompson.
On defense, if you were to compare any team to Texas Tech, this Kansas State defense would be the team. They run a similar 3-3-5 defense and have been getting torched in the run game. They haven’t stopped a team from scoring in the red zone at all this season allowing 20 trips and 20 scores. Of those 20 scores, 14 have been for a TD. They are a little banged up on the defensive line with big Khalid Duke out at DE. Bronson Massie is another guy at D-Line who could be out for this game, per HC Chris Klieman, but he’ll either return this week or next. If playing, look for Massie to be the guy to step into the Duke role and make some big plays stopping the run attack of Texas Tech. In their most recent game against Iowa State, Breece Hall torched them on the first play from scrimmage for a 75 yard TD. The Cyclones finished the day with 210 rushing yards and 208 yards in the air. If Sonny Cumbie can devise a good run game early on and set the tone for picking up chunk yardage, it’ll really open up the field for Colombi to run some RPO plays and throw the ball deep downfield. Also look for Donovan Smith to run the offense some.
Look Ahead to the Game:
I expect this to be a high scoring game with offenses from both teams really putting up some big yardage. We had a big game on the ground last year with Xavier White rushing for 100+ yards and Thompson adding a cool 46 to that total. If Cumbie can execute a his best game plan and we can continue the momentum from last week, this could be a fun game to watch offensively for the Red Raiders. On the other side of the ball, which Tech defense will show up? I guess we’ll find out this Saturday at 11am.