The Collegian’s sports editor Tim Everson, lead football writer Andrew Hammond and writers Liz Heath and Avery Osen gave their individual take on who they think is the most important in K-State’s matchup with Texas Tech this Saturday.
Really, with the kind of season K-State has been having, it’s an all-hands-on-deck situation for the Wildcats to get their first conference win of the season.
However, with the importance of K-State’s offense having their stuff together, I’m going to go with the engine that makes it all go: the offensive line.
With the amount of yards that the Red Raiders give up, it’s imperative that the big guys up front impose their will versus a Texas Tech defensive front seven that has been bad.
When you’re worse than Kansas at stopping the run, you’re pretty dang bad, and wouldn’t you know it, the Red Raiders are last in stopping the run.
In addition to getting the run game going, with Joe Hubener’s limitations at quarterback this season, whatever extra time the offensive line can buy him to avoid rushing him into another bout of bad decision making is a must.
K-State cannot lose the turnover battle versus Texas Tech, and the offensive line making Hubener comfortable in the pocket is a good way to ensure that happening.
The most important player this Saturday is Hubener.
The quarterback has been picked apart by us in the media, and fans all over have called the Wildcat signal caller out on his play. However, it’s possible that Hubener is poised to have his best game in a K-State uniform Saturday against Texas Tech. After stringing together 572 yards and seven touchdowns collectively against Baylor and TCU, it’s apparent that Hubener can come up in big games and string together good moments.
I mean, making plays against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State isn’t easy. It’s apparent the kid has some game, so maybe fans should lighten up when it comes to their thoughts on him.
The Texas Tech defense offers another opportunity for Hubener to endear himself to the Wildcat faithful. If Hubener can get his legs and arm going against Texas Tech, it will go a long way in improving the bowl chances for the Wildcats.
Texas Tech sits dead last in the conference in rushing defense and eighth in pass defense, so Saturday presents a huge opportunity for Hubener to build some consistency as he looks to lead the Wildcats, who are reaching a very pivotal stretch in the 2015 season.
If Hubener can’t get things going on Saturday against what many would consider a “struggling defense,” the question we may be asking ourselves is, “Is Joe Hubener the guy that will be leading K-State for the rest of the season?”
Last week, Baylor’s passing offense bombarded the Wildcat secondary for 419 yards. The secondary has been plagued with injuries this season, and with younger players stepping up in the backfield, there is no better time for someone to start making big plays happen.
The backfield has been anything but consistent this season. K-State’s passing defense is ranked ninth in the Big 12. The Wildcats are ranked last for interceptions in the Big 12 with just three. None of those interceptions were made by a member of the Wildcat secondary. Their ranked opponents are now out of the way, but K-State can’t keep pretending like the secondary not making defensive plays is OK.
It’s not okay. There is no such thing as an easy game in the Big 12, and if this team wants to make a bowl game, the Wildcats need someone in the backfield to start making things happen. Breaking up a pass once is great, but not if the opposing team’s quarterback can turn around and throw a 60-yard bomb on the next play.
Texas Tech is a team that likes to throw the ball. The Red Raiders average 392.5 passing yards per game, ranking them second to TCU in the Big 12. Texas Tech’s sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes II ranks sixth in the Big 12 for passing efficiency, completing 282-437.
The opportunity is there for K-State’s secondary. It’s easy to look to senior cornerback Morgan Burns, but instead I’m going to look for freshman cornerback Duke Shelley to be the spark plug for the K-State secondary. Shelley had five tackles and one pass deflection against Baylor. He got his first start against TCU and has started every game since. Shelley is a breakout story that’s waiting to happen, and the opportunity will be there against Tech’s offense.
In the midst of a five-game losing streak, some teams find out who they can and cannot rely on to carry a team.
This week I’m going to name two players because I think it is that important for the success of this team.
My players that need to step up this week are running backs freshman Justin Silmon and junior Charles Jones.
These two have been off and on this season, but the Wildcats need them Saturday when they travel to Lubbock, Texas, to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
Silmon and Jones are being out-rushed by their quarterback, but in their defense, the offense is centered on a running quarterback.
The Red Raiders are last in the Big 12 in rush defense, which is something that the Wildcats must take advantage of to stay competitive.
Texas Tech has given up almost 2,000 rushing yards this season, which is almost 500 more yards than the low-life Kansas Jayhawks have given up.
If the Wildcats can find a way to establish the run game then that will open up more receivers for Hubener to find.
Jones and Silmon have combined for only five touchdowns this season and will need to be finding the back of the end zone more often in the future.
The Wildcats are only averaging 166 rushing yards per game, but the Red Raiders are giving up almost 300 rushing yards per game. Silmon and Charles must look for holes from the offensive line and execute to get through the rush defense.
It’s time for these two players to fit into the role Bill Snyder needs them to be in, and I think they are more than capable.
If the Wildcats can steal this game, I think a bowl game will be in their future, and it will be because of the success of Jones and Silmon.