Oklahoma State does not do Texas many favors. It did earlier this season in a matchup against the Longhorns’ next opponent. The Cowboys stunned Kansas State to hand the Wildcats their second loss of the year. In doing so, they provided a blueprint to beating Kansas State.
The Pokes gave the Longhorns some critical schematic clues on how to upend the K-State offense. The most emphatic statement Oklahoma State made comes from its pass defense.
The Cowboys made Kansas State quarterback Will Howard look lost. Howard put up 256 total yards on the day, but 104 of those yards came on the ground. Through the air, the veteran quarterback was ineffective.
Howard completed 15 of 34 passing attempts from 152 yards. He added a touchdown and three interceptions to finish with a QBR of 44.6.
What did Oklahoma State do? Quite simply, they conceded little to nothing within fifteen yards downfield. Oklahoma State flooded potential close range throws with defenders. It clamped down on the short and intermediate game and made Howard beat them. As the stat sheet would indicate, he didn’t win downfield.
The blueprint is clear for Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski: concede nothing up close and make Kansas State beat you through the air. That doesn’t mean you ignore K-State tight end Ben Sinnott and let him free upfield. It does mean you take away easy pitch and catch throws within fifteen yards of the line of scrimmage.
We already noted the Wildcats’ dominant running game. The team ranks No. 5 in the country in rushing yards per contest with an average of 226 yards. Quarterbacks Will Howard and Avery Johnson have combined for over 500 yards rushing this season. It’s a game where Texas can and should play closer to the line of scrimmage and clamp down on the short passing game as well as the run.
There’s an apparent solution to slowing this Kansas State squad. The question is whether or not Pete Kwiatkowski will move from his comfort zone to a more aggressive approach. If he does, we believe Texas can win.
Texas can make the most of its statement opportunity on Saturday when it takes on Kansas State at 11 a.m. CT on Fox.