On a day in which the Kansas State Wildcats played the solid defense that has become calling card of their season, the Wildcats defense got a little help against the Texas Longhorns from an unexpected ally: Texas’ lack of discipline.
The Wildcats defense held the Longhorns to just under 20 minutes of total possession, and held them to 3-11 on third down and pressured freshman quarterback Shane Buechele all day long, sacking him three times
They were aided by 10 penalties for 72 yards by the Longhorns. In a game that ended 24-21, every yard counted. Four of those came on the first drive of the game, a nine-play, 68-yard drive which culminated with a six yard touchdown run by K-State junior quarterback Jesse Ertz.
However the Wildcats also committed two penalties on that drive. K-State head coach Bill Snyder was much more focused on those.
“Penalties hurt anybody, you know, whoever commits them, whether it’s them or whether it’s us,” Snyder said. “We had two penalties in the first possession that we had. We were fortunate to be able to overcome them. That doesn’t happen a great deal.”
Those penalties, Snyder said, reflected on a bigger challenge the team has been dealing with all season.
“We had eight penalties for 75 yards,” Snyder said. “That goes back to earlier in the season when we were getting eight, nine, 10 penalties a ballgame. That’s not good.”
But despite the Wildcats penalties, K-State took a 21-7 lead into halftime partly because of the momentum the team built off of Texas’ penalties.
Sophomore offensive lineman Dalton Risner spoke loudly and quickly about how the offense played, even though he said he was upset at himself for committing the game’s first penalty, a 10-yard holding call that came after a rush by senior running back Charles Jones.
“We were getting them offsides like crazy,” Risner said. “I think that just shows what we preach here: discipline. You’ve got to be consistent and disciplined.”
Risner said the Wildcats shouldn’t have committed either of their penalties on the drive, but in general he said the team stayed focused.
“It means a lot in a game like this,” Risner said. “Discipline makes a huge difference and not to say we were the most disciplined today, but I think that we did a good job.”
Senior defensive end Jordan Willis said the offense’s start helped the defense by allowing them to play more “free.”
“It kind of settled us down I think,” Willis said. “It kind of gives us confidence as a defense when we take the field. We don’t have a whole lot to worry about other than just doing our job.”
K-State’s defense was tasked with defending Texas’ dual-quarterback offense, which switches between running quarterback in senior Tyrone Swoopes and a strong passing quarterback in Buechele, a freshman. The offensive plays most often used with Swoopes are known as the “18-wheeler” package.
Senior safety Dante Barnett, however, said the dual-quarterback offense didn’t change the way the Wildcat defense prepared for the game.
“We knew that they were going to go with the freshman, he was going to play a lot” Barnett said. “We knew when it came to short-yard situations or a tight red zone that the 18-wheeler package was going to come in. I think we knew what we had to prepare for.”
Willis said it wasn’t uniquely difficult preparing for the dual-quarterback scheme.
“Really you’re playing for the formation, not so much of who’s in there all the time,” Willis said.
Willis said the team was able to find success simply through persistence.
“We just stayed after him,” Willis said. “That’s always good when we can stay after quarterback. It’s not always (about) sacking them, but just pressuring.”