Strong defense will be necessary against Oklahoma

Oklahoma University quarterback Baker Mayfield hands the ball off to running back Samaje Perine during the football game between OU and K-State on Oct. 17, 2015, in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

If you looked purely at the score of last week’s game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, you’d see a Kansas State defense that allowed nearly 600 yards and 38 points.

But what if I told you that, compared to how Texas Tech normally had been doing, last Saturday’s performance by the Wildcats’ defense was at least “respectable”?

Texas Tech entered the game with the top offense in the country, averaging 59 points per game. By the time Saturday merged into Sunday, the Red Raiders had seen themselves fall to the second-highest scoring offense in the country. Louisville had surpassed them.

K-State’s defense held the Red Raiders to 11 fewer points than they had scored in any other game this season, even with junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes II throwing all over the field, despite having only recently come back from an injury that left him questionable entering the game.

The defense didn’t have a great game until the second half last week. This week, it’ll get a chance at redemption.

The Sooners are led by junior quarterback Baker Mayfield. K-State’s defense is well aware of what he’s capable of, especially after being beaten 55-0 by the Sooners last year with Mayfield at the helm.

Mayfield had five touchdowns in that game.

“Watching film on Baker, he is very versatile,” sophomore defensive back D.J. Reed told the media Tuesday. “He can get out of the pocket, extend plays and he is very good on his feet.”

Oklahoma’s offensive line isn’t bad either.

“They are pretty good up front,” redshirt freshman defensive tackle Trey Dishon said. “They are young, but they have a good combination of run and pass.”

Still, the Wildcats’ recent defensive efforts show improvement. They also have sophomore defensive end Jordan Willis, who leads the conference in both sacks, with six, and tackles for loss, with 7.5.

Head coach Bill Snyder acknowledges Willis’ ability as a pass rusher so far this season.

“He has made improvement in that area and has been responsible for a couple of turnovers,” Snyder said. “He just reacted quicker to certain things that has allowed his pass rush to become better.”

If the Wildcats are going to pull a road upset, they’ll have to score points, something that has proven difficult for the offense to do consistently.

Junior quarterback Jesse Ertz has five touchdowns this season, but only 51 completions in 105 passing attempts, which amounts to a completion rate of 48 percent. Mayfield, by contrast, has a completion percentage of 68 percent, as well as 12 touchdowns to Ertz’s five.

Junior running back Samaje Perine has 461 yards with six touchdowns as the leading rusher for the Sooners. K-State senior running back Charles Jones has 287 yards, but only has two touchdowns this season.

The Wildcats will need all the help they can get from their defense Saturday. Hopefully the offense will be able to hold its own as well.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.