ANALYSIS: K-State defense bends but doesn’t break in win over TCU

Willie Wildcat leads K-State fans in cheering on their football team during the game against TCU in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The Wildcats took the Horned Frogs 24-17. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State finished the game with less time of possession, had 100 fewer total yards and still managed to grind out a 24-17 win over TCU. The K-State defense stepped up and kept the team in the game.

“On defense I think the first guy we have to praise is [senior punter] Devin Anctil,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “Anctil kept putting them in bad situations,”

Anctil had seven punts, including two that pinned the Horned Frogs inside the 20. He averaged 49 yards per punt.

The K-State defense has shown that it can be dominant, but the trend now eight weeks into the season is the tackling.

“As poorly as we tackled … we need to continue to work on it and get better, we were able to make some stops on third down and even fourth down to hold them to 17 points,” Klieman said.

TCU’s freshman quarterback Max Duggan entered the game with 46 total rushing yards in his college football career. Against K-State, Duggan rushed for a career-high 115 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown run where K-State missed four tackles.

“I thought they responded, especially after we gave up the long run for the touchdown with the quarterback. I thought from then on they played pretty well,” Klieman said.

Duggan may have had a personal best day with his feet, but he struggled passing the ball against K-State’s defense. The freshman quarterback went 16-29 for 132 yards, and the Wildcats held the Horned Frogs to 138 passing yards. TCU senior quarterback Alex Delton had six.

“I think our pass defense is what really won us the football game. Pass rush and pass defense,” Klieman said.

The K-State defense has kept the Wildcats in games all season and delivered when it mattered the most. Sophomore defensive end Wyatt Hubert came up big late in the game with a sack on TCU’s final drive.

“We are definitely very capable of playing very well, and even though we came out with a win, we saw a lot of mistakes and a lot of things we can fix on,” Hubert said.

Hubert talked about what the defense needs to work on going forward.

“Tackling, for example, there were a lot of broken tackles in this game, and we just gotta get the tackle on contact, and we can’t let the ball carrier get any yards after contact, so that’s one thing we are definitely gonna work on,” Hubert said.

The K-State defense came through in crucial situations, which adds a new level of confidence after a close game.

“Those are the situations that we practice for and why we play the game, to be out there in those big, big situations like that,” defensive tackle Jordan Mittie said. “So to be able to come through in those, that’s awesome, and you know it just adds to that great feeling we have right now.”

The Wildcats will have a tough matchup on Saturday against the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ABC.