The first College Football Playoff rankings were released Tuesday, with Kansas State checking in at number 16. A big reason for the Wildcats’ success has been a defense with tons of veterans and starting experience. Let’s look at what to expect from the Kansas State defense:
The Wildcats will operate primarily with 4 down linemen who have done a nice job of getting into opposing backfields. Defensive end Wyatt Hubert leads the defense with 4 sacks and fellow defensive end Reggie Walker is a senior who was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team. Inside at defensive tackle, seniors Trey Dishon and Jordan Mittie are solid. Dishon, in particular, has been impressive this season thus far.
Kansas State has one of the most underrated defensive lines in the Big 12 and it will be interesting to see how they match up against a Texas offensive line that has not played to their potential over the past month.
As is usually the case with any Kansas State defense, they boast extremely active linebackers who know their assignments and rarely beat themselves. Elijah Sullivan anchors the defense at middle linebacker and is having a good year. One area of concern for the Wildcats will be the quarterback running game. Jalen Hurts had a very productive day on the ground against the Wildcats a few weeks ago, scoring 3 rushing touchdowns.
Kansas State received bad news earlier this week when head coach Chris Klieman announced starting corner AJ Parker would miss significant time with an injury. Parker’s injury means a heavy burden will be placed on Walter Neil Jr. to play a key role in slowing down the Texas passing attack featuring Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay. Free safety Denzel Goolsby leads Kansas State in tackles and is one of the top safeties in the Big 12.
Similar to their offense, the Kansas State defense is well-coached and does not beat themselves. They will force Texas to sustain long drives, which ironically has been the offensive identity for Texas for much of the year. The Longhorns have had 2 weeks to prepare for the Wildcats, so they will likely implement some wrinkles that haven’t been seen yet this year.
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