Texas looks to get back in the win-column when Kansas State comes to Austin on Saturday afternoon. The Longhorns currently sit at 3-2 in Big 12 play and face a must-win if they hope to stay alive for a berth in the conference championship game. Let’s look at what to expect from a good Kansas State offense:
Junior Skylar Thompson is in his first year as the full-time starter for the Wildcats and should be no stranger to Texas fans. Thompson led a spirited second-half comeback in last year’s matchup in Manhattan, putting Kansas State within striking distance in the 4th quarter in a game where the Longhorns ultimately squeaked out a win.
Despite a coaching change, the Kansas State offense has continued to do a lot of the same things that made them successful under legendary coach Bill Synder. Thompson does an excellent job of taking care of the football and excels as a runner (10 rushing touchdowns). He is completing just over 60% of his passes and has only thrown 1 interception all season. Considering Texas’ struggles in defending the quarterback run, it would be surprising if Thompson didn’t end up with close to 20 carries on Saturday.
Graduate transfer James Gilbert currently leads Kansas State in rushing with 558 yards, but the senior did not record a carry against Kansas last week and appears to be nursing an injury or is in the doghouse. In Gilbert’s absence, junior Harry Trotter carried the load with 20 carries. Senior Jordon Brown also figures to be in the mix and receive a handful of carries.
Dalton Schoen has seemingly been at Kansas State for a decade, but the senior is still going strong and leads the Wildcats with 389 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. The Longhorns have shown a tendency to struggle with the top receiver of an opposing team, so slowing down Schoen will likely be one of the top priorities for Todd Orlando on Saturday. Redshirt freshmen Phillip Brooks and Malik Knowles are the only other receivers who have recorded more than 10 receptions.
In typical Kansas State fashion, the Wildcats will start 5 redshirt seniors along the offensive line. The unit is led by left tackle Scott Frantz, who is among the best tackles in the Big 12. The Wildcats do not allow a ton of sacks and run the football extremely well. In addition to Frantz, center Adam Holtorf is another very good player who has started over 30 games in his career.
Kansas State shocked Oklahoma a few weeks ago behind a huge offensive performance from Skylar Thompson, who rushed for 4 touchdowns. They used a ton of misdirection runs and James Gilbert ran for over 100 yards. As stated previously, Texas has struggled mightily to stop the quarterback run, so expect a heavy dose of designed runs and zone reads to keep the Longhorn defense on their heels.
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