The Wildcats have struggled with both injuries and COVID restrictions, turning a once-promising start into a four-game losing streak. However, they could pull to .500 this year with a win, as well as add a somewhat marquee win to the end of the year. So what will Kansas State bring to the table on Saturday?
Burnt Orange Nation: The Wildcats are coming off of a disappointing four-game losing streak after a very promising start to the year. What would a win over Texas to close out the season do for the Wildcats in this offseason and beyond?
Bring on the Cats: It would make the season feel like less of a disaster. Any season in which you take down both the Horns and Dirt Burglars is a tolerable campaign. (Man, I wish we’d gotten to play both of you every year back in the good old days.)
I’m not sure what impact it will have going forward, though, because I’m not sure what this season even means. For anyone. We don’t even know if teams are going to lose another spring at this point.
BON: Freshman running back Deuce Vaughn has been a breakout star this year, accounting for more than 900 yards and seven touchdowns on offense. What has been the secret to his success this year?
BOtC: A pretty poorly-kept one if you watched the West Virginia, Iowa State, or Oklahoma State games. Vaughn was contained in all three losses because speed, slipperiness, and sneakiness doesn’t do much good when the rest of the offense has vanished. Vaughn was able to get something done against Baylor because they’re a bad team.
He was a surprise early in the season, relying on his speed and ability to avoid getting hit. Once he was keyed on, he became ineffective. If the rest of the offense doesn’t step up, the coaching staff has to figure out some way to make those tools still work for him.
BON: In spite of the defensive struggles this year, Kansas State has managed to create chaos in the backfield, sitting near the top of the conference in both tackles for loss and sacks. How do you anticipate them trying to exploit a Texas team that has struggled up front and is missing its left tackle?
BOtC: Interesting that you ask about the defensive struggles, because the truth is that they haven’t been struggling... except for the third quarter. I think we all know what it means when a defense which is not gassed gets wrecked in the third quarter but comes back to play great football in the fourth.
Also interesting: I’m actually worried about the very situation you’re asking about, because one of K-State’s problems is over-pursuit. They’ll spend 3/4 of the game running around the other team’s backfield at will, but get beaten because their destruction of the opposing offensive line has created 15 yards of empty field between themselves and the back seven. I think we all know what *that* means, too.
BON: What’s the matchup you’re watching most closely on Saturday?
BOtC: The only matchup that really matters in terms of K-State’s ability to win the game: the Wildcat offensive line against the Texas defensive line. If K-State can keep Texas out of the backfield and let Will Howard get comfortable, he can do some things. The problem is that they haven’t done that for a month.
BON: What’s your prediction?
BOtC: I kinda like to avoid making predictions when I don’t even know who’s going to be on the field, and the fortunes of both teams this season make it even more problematic. In August, I’d have predicted a Texas win, and not a very close one. A month ago, I’d have expected K-State to run the Horns out of the stadium. Now? Man, I don’t even know. May as well ask me for Friday’s Mega Millions numbers.
I don’t expect K-State to win, because I think they’re demoralized, wounded, and rattled. But then I also expected the Cats to get pantsed last week, and it took a last-second field goal to take the L. Texas doesn’t seem to be in great shape themselves, and if the media can be believed it’s chaos down there, too. So I really just have no idea what to expect.