Young talent aims to keep football team at top of conference in a tilt with TCU

Freshman running back Deuce Vaughn attempts to juke a Texas Tech defender as he runs down the sideline during last week's game. Vaughn is one of the Wildcats' top young players this season and will be a big factor in Saturday's game against TCU. (Dalton Wainscott | Collegian Media Group).

For the first time this season, Wildcat football travels to Texas to try for 3-0 in Big 12 Conference play for the first time since 2014 after a 31-21 win over Texas Tech last week. The Wildcats look to continue that momentum during a road matchup against TCU.

Kansas State is hopeful senior quarterback Skylar Thompson will be able to play after suffering an injury on Saturday. However, true freshman quarterback Will Howard is the likely starter for the matchup against the Horned Frogs. Howard threw for 173 yards and a touchdown after replacing Thompson in the second quarter.

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True freshman running back Deuce Vaughn dominated in the young season and took the Big 12 newcomer of the week for the second week in a row. Vaughn had 194 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns in the win over Texas Tech and is second in the conference in all-purpose yards with 429 yards over three games.

The defense may not seem so impressive on paper, but helped keep the Wildcats in games. K-State ranks fifth in the Big 12 in scoring defense, allowing 30.3 points per game, despite giving up the second-most yards per game.

Even though they give up yardage, the defense limited red zone scoring and ranks second in the conference in the category. They’ve made five interceptions through three games and are tied for first in the nation in turnover margin.

TCU is coming off of a big 33-31 win on the road against Texas last Saturday. Similar to K-State, the Horned Frogs received Top 25 votes this week. All-time, the Horned Frogs lead the series 7-6 and have defeated the Wildcats four of the last six meetings.

Sophomore quarterback Max Duggan threw for 231 yards and had 79 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore place kicker Griffin Kell went 7/7 in all kicking opportunities, including a 49-yard field goal. His performance earned him a special teams player of the week nod.

Players to Watch

The K-State offensive line received praise from coaches the last two weeks. The biggest question for the Wildcats before the season was the line’s experience, but they stepped up in conference play.

Sophomore defensive back Ekow Boye-Doe had two starts this season. He has ten tackles and three passes defended in the two games. Against Texas Tech, Boye-Doe had five tackles, including one for a loss and two pass defenses. He is one of the taller defensive backs. He could find himself matched against the more dynamic wide receivers of TCU.

Junior wide receiver Taye Barber appears to be Max Duggan’s favorite receiver with 12 receptions, including seven receptions for 51 yards against the Longhorns. Barber is tied for third in the conference in receptions per game with six with 133 yards and a touchdown.

Junior safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt had seven tackles and an interception in the win against Texas, which earned him Big 12 defensive player of the week honors. He made 12 tackles for the Horned Frogs over two games this season.

The Wildcats are the 8.5 point underdog in the road matchup with TCU, and the over/under is set at 50.5. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. in Fort Worth on Fox.