Three thoughts from Texas Tech’s 59-44 victory over Kansas State on Saturday at AT&T Jones Stadium:
1. Like it or not, K-State intends to keep throwing the ball.
Like many K-State football fans, I was perplexed by the Wildcats’ play-calling against Texas Tech.
The Red Raiders have an abysmal run defense that was allowing nearly 300 yards on the ground per game. Everyone runs on Texas Tech. Yet, K-State attempted more passes (42) than rushes (34), finishing with 289 passing yards and 141 rushing yards.
Kliff Kingsbury said it was Texas Tech’s goal to make Joe Hubener throw, and it accomplished exactly that.
Some of the passes can be explained by Texas Tech’s early 28-7 lead, but K-State came out throwing on its initial drives when it didn’t face a big deficit. And there was a lot of time left. K-State didn’t have to give up on the run.
It simply chose to.
When asked about the high-volume of passes against one of the nation’s worst run defenses, K-State coach Bill Snyder defended the strategy.
“It’s just who we are,” Snyder said. “We have got to be able to throw the ball and have balance in our offense to be a productive offensive football team. If we are one-sided and you are a decent football team, than we are in trouble.”
Offensive coordinator Dana Dimel has come under fire this season for asking Hubener, a 47-percent passer, to throw so often to average receivers when the strength of the offense is its running attack.
K-State has been at its best this season when it leans on the run. When it played Oklahoma State, TCU and Baylor close, it attempted an average of 45 runs and 24 passes. Even then some were clamoring for more running plays. Flipping that around and favoring the pass against Texas Tech was odd.
But it seems as though Snyder wants K-State to keep throwing. Don’t expect that to change in the final three games.
2. This was K-State’s worst defensive showing of the season.
Texas Tech has an explosive offense that averages more than 60 points in Lubbock, but K-State did little to stop the Red Raiders on Saturday.
Patrick Mahomes found huge gaps in coverage and completed easy passes. Most alarming, Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington erupted for 248 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries. K-State has a strong defensive line that has mostly shut down the run this season, but that certainly wasn’t the case here.
K-State continues to surrender too many quick-strike touchdowns. Its continued trend of starting slow is also unsettling. The Wildcats have allowed opposing teams to score on their opening drive in five of the past six games, suggesting they aren’t ready to play when they enter the stadium.
“We went after it a little bit more (after the first quarter),” Snyder said. “I think our guys knew a little bit more after what they learned in the first half. They reacted to schemes quite a bit better.”
K-State was better after Texas Tech’s initial 28-point onslaught. Still, the Red Raiders thrived with a balanced approach and finished with 658 yards and 59 points.
3. K-State players aren’t giving up.
After falling behind early, the Wildcats fought back to make things close against Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech. They weren’t able to win any of those games, but those efforts show K-State is going to keep fighting.
The Wildcats (3-6, 0-6 Big 12) will play for bowl eligibility in their final three games. Win all three, and they advance to the postseason for a sixth straight year. They badly want to extend that streak.
Losing six in a row has been understandably frustrating, but players think they can respond with three straight victories.
“We have to come out with more of a passion each week,” left tackle Cody Whitehair said. “I feel like we come out a little too flat. If we keep our spirit level up and our intensity level up we will come out firing against Iowa State. I know the guys have never once doubted us going to a bowl game.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett