Know Your Opponent: Texas Tech

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Kansas State football’s final home game of the season is just around the corner. The Texas Tech Red Raiders will pay a visit to Manhattan for K-State’s Senior Day this Saturday.

Texas Tech is 5-5 this year and 3-4 in conference play. They are, however on a three-game losing streak. Those losses are to Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa State.

The Red Raiders are led by head coach Kliff Kingsbury, a former Mike Leach quarterback and former assistant of Leach-disciple Dana Holgorsen.

Kingsbury runs a pretty similar air-raid offense to Mike Leach. The air-raid requires a smart quarterback who can deliver solid short passes. The quarterback position is potentially the biggest question mark for Texas Tech coming into this week.

Freshman quarterback Alan Bowman has been struggling with a partially collapsed lung since he was sandwiched between two West Virginia blitzers. Bowman re-injured the lung two weeks ago against Oklahoma and missed the Texas game last week.

Kingsbury told Dallas News that the freshman is unlikely to play against K-State, leaving sophomore quarterback Jett Duffey to take the snaps for the Red Raiders. Duffey started last week against Texas as well.

Duffey has a good arm and can get the ball to his receivers quickly. He can also move the ball with his legs fairly well.

Kingsbury’s version of the air raid seems custom built to put up massive yardages on defenses like K-State. The Wildcats just do not play enough press coverage to beat the screen, short curls and quick slants that are prevalent in this offense.

They also generally struggle with the tempo of the air raid.

Fortunately for K-State’s defense, video-game-like yards do not necessarily mean huge scoring days.

Last season, Texas Tech amassed 405 passing yards, but only 35 points. In 2016, Patrick Mahomes gained 504 passing yards and they scored 38 points. K-State won both games despite being outgained.

Texas Tech is known for having a very bad defense, and this season is not all that different. They are ninth in the conference in points per game, and last in the conference for yards per game.

They are very “multiple” in their defensive looks, meaning that they show varying different fronts throughout a game. They default to a four-man front in a lot of situations and on their two-deep roster.

In the red zone against Texas, they liked essentially a five-man front that was really three down lineman with two blitzing outside linebackers in two-point stances on the ends of the line.

K-State may struggle to run the ball this week, despite being the worst in the conference in total yardage, Texas Tech is sixth in run yards per game. As always with K-State’s offense, running is essential to moving the ball at all.

They will also likely be without senior linebacker Dakota Allen, who has a knee injury.

Key matchups

Duffey versus K-State home defense: K-State’s defense has quietly been quite good against this year at home. They allow over 100 fewer yards per game at home versus on the road and 14.3 fewer points per game. In fact, they only average 20 points allowed at home this season.

That said, Duffey’s throwing ability might be the biggest home test K-State has faced this season since they played West Virginia and Oklahoma on the road. It will be interesting to see if the home/road splits are purely a product of the opponent or not.

K-State receivers versus K-State quarterback: Wide receiver is one of the least-talented position groups that K-State has this season. Quarterback play has also been very underwhelming this season.

K-State will absolutely have to throw the ball if they want a chance to win this week, which will mean that quarterbacks will have to make good decisions and deliver good throws and receivers will have to actually catch them and make plays with the ball. That has been a tall order so far this season. My prediction? Texas Tech 35, K-State 17

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