TCU defense is change of pace for K-State

Wide receiver Wykeen Gill gets tackled by a TCU defender during the game against TCU Nov. 3. K-State lost 14-13. (Meg Shearer | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State football team rolls into the second of three straight home games this Saturday to host to the TCU Horned Frogs at 1:30 p.m. in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

The Horned Frogs will be a little different on defense from what the Wildcats have seen thus far in Big 12 play. Where Oklahoma State and Baylor ran a lot of 3-3 defenses — defensive sets with three linemen and three linebackers — TCU traditionally runs a 4-2-5.

The 3-3, which is becoming more popular in the Big 12, presents a host of possibilities for defensive coordinators while remaining in their base set and is generally harder for offenses to read.

The 4-2-5 is predicated on having athletic, intelligent, aggressive players across the defense, and TCU has those players.

“Their linebackers are not huge, but they are fast,” junior quarterback Skylar Thompson said. “Their nickel is kind of a true hybrid guy. He can play coverage really well and can get in the box, but he’s not the biggest guy in the world. Their D-line is big and can play physical.”

TCU’s defense is one of the best in the conference against the run. They allow 3.1 rushing yards per attempt and only 101 rushing yards per game.

“They’re very physical. I think that’s the first thing that you notice on film is how physical [TCU head] Coach [Gary] Patterson’s defense plays,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “They hit their fits, they know their assignments, they know where their help’s at. … They do all the fundamental things right.”

That physicality leads to defensive players getting in the backfield and stopping runs or pressuring the quarterback.

“They’re an attacking-style defense, and when you have that, you cause a lot of negative plays and disruption,” Klieman said. The things that we have to avoid that we’ve stubbed ourselves in the foot a little bit is having those negative plays. We have to avoid those.”

Still, K-State players said that, just like the past few weeks, it all comes down the execution and preparation.

“We’re ready for it,” senior offensive lineman Adam Holtorf said. “It’s not going to be an extreme challenge, it’s just a different style.”

Regardless of defensive scheme, K-State will have to establish the run and control the clock to beat TCU.

“Establishing the run is so critical and so important for our offense because it sets up everything we do,” senior running back James Gilbert said.

The Wildcats will seek to break a two-game losing streak with their first Big 12 win of the season and their fourth of the season on Saturday.

Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, an alumnus from Olathe, Kansas. I graduated in spring 2022 with a Masters in Mass Communication, and I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. I covered K-State sports for the Collegian for four years.