Physical TCU throws Kansas State a changeup

11/15/2013 9:00 AM

11/15/2013 7:06 AM

Kansas State’s trip to TCU last year could have easily been considered the season’s most dull game. There was little drama, and, other than a third-quarter touchdown run from Collin Klein, the Wildcats produced few highlights on their way to a 23-10 victory.

It was, for the most part, a forgettable night of football.

Just don’t tell that to the K-State players who were on the field that day. They remember every detail — it was the most physical game many of them can recall.

“Their front seven was remarkable,” junior center B.J. Finney said.

He is preparing for another smash-mouth challenge when K-State plays host to TCU at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday.

“It’s going to be a battle, there is no doubt about it. It is going to be an all-out war,” Finney said. “TCU has a great defense. It is going to be a real test of our offensive line. We are expecting the same kind of physicality and toughness from this team, even though they don’t have as good a record as last year. They are still a great team and have great athletes.”

The Horned Frogs also play a much different style. The majority of games in the Big 12 are shootouts that are won and lost with offense. But TCU is a defensive-minded team. It allows a conference best 125 rushing yards per game and holds opponents to less than 23 points a game. Jason Verrett, a shutdown cornerback, also regularly takes away the opposing team’s top receiver.

That hard-nosed edge keeps TCU in most games. The Frogs are 4-6, but all but one of their losses were by two scores or less.

Another blowout victory might not be possible for K-State. This is the best defense it will see all season.

“It presents a great challenge, it always has been,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “If you look back over a period of time, it’s TCU’s stronghold. Not that they don’t do other things well, because they do. They play well against the pass, all their stats defensively are in the top echelon of the nation, as well as the conference. It presents a problem. We did not knock them out of the box last year running the football. They are extremely sound.”

With the return of quarterback Casey Pachall, the Horned Frogs finally produced enough offense to beat Iowa State 21-17 last week and break a three-game losing streak.

But TCU is no offensive juggernaut. It huddles up after most plays and uses safe game strategy. K-State’s defense will face a new challenge. too.

“It’s kind of nice actually,” said junior linebacker Jonathan Truman. “Some of the times when the offense is going so fast you can’t even see the signal before they are snapping the ball that is kind of stressful. I just feel (the Horned Frogs) are a very skilled and very physical football team that executes their plays well. They are a great effort team. They are going to be 100 percent every play and try to get the job done.”

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