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TCU Game Plan: Time to Look at the Small Picture

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Sometimes you should look at a tree and ignore the forest.

Kansas State v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

Hi everyone, I’m back from my 2 week “vacation” through the Southeast to visit both my in-laws and parental units, and I’m ready to talk some football. If you listened to the podcast this week (my bad on the audio, I usually do podcasts from my computer with a microphone, but was limited to my cell phone and bad wifi for this one) I gave you some doom and gloom big picture stuff, but the time for doom and gloom is over, as the Wildcats have a winnable game on this weekend.

I’m sure we’ll get back to the doom and gloom big picture stuff at a later date, because it’s not going away, but the TCU game is at hand, and I think everyone needs a break from the coaching intrigue....so let’s talk some football.

Keys to the Game

Defense

Keep It Close (and low scoring) Early

This Kansas State team is not built to play from behind. They are at their best on offense when they can slowly grind teams down with the run game. You saw a perfect example of that against Oklahoma State.

At halftime the score was 6-3 OSU and I was ecstatic. Keeping the game close (which for K-State means low scoring in most cases) allowed the Wildcat offensive line and running game to dominate the line of scrimmage and wear down the Cowboys. That’s how K-State can compete with teams that have superior talent.

If the opponent jumps out early and the Wildcats have to rely on their passing game to keep up, its a recipe for a blow out loss. It takes this offense a while to wear out opponents, and in the process, there are going to be several empty drives. The deeper you get into the game, the better the offense becomes. The K-State defense has to hold on early so the offense can win it late.

Tackle

It’s pretty simple actually. K-State can’t allow what should be a 5 yard run to turn into a 50 yard run because a linebacker or safety failed to make a tackle. TCU is struggling on offense right now, but they are more than capable of taking one to the house if you fail to make an initial tackle in space.

The defense did a great job of that against Oklahoma State and a terrible job of that against Oklahoma (and West Virginia and Mississippi State). When a defender is in the right position, but fails to make the tackle, things fall apart quickly. It’s up to the linebackers and safeties to make sure this doesn’t happen.

Make TCU Execute

This goes back to keeping the game low scoring and tackling. TCU has struggled to make anything happen on offense this year. You have to make them put together long scoring drives. At this point, I’m all for playing soft zone coverage and waiting for the TCU offense to implode internally. My philosophy for this game would be “everything in front, nothing over the top, let’s see if they can put together a 12 play drive.”

I’m all in on “bend, don’t break.”

Offense

Barnes....Barnes...and then Barnes some more...maybe throw in some Warmack

Alex Barnes and the offensive line are the best bet for K-State to win this game. The game plan should be simple; pass out of necessity and only out of necessity. This offense grinds to a halt when it gets off schedule. While most teams can survive an incomplete pass on first down, this team can not. It’s best to just accept that and move on with the play calling.

I’m going to refer back to legendary Texas coach Darrell Royal on this one. “There are three things that can happen on a forward pass – and two of them are bad.”

It pains me to say this, because I’m a huge fan of the forward pass, but if Skylar has to throw it more than 20...25 times, things have gone terribly wrong.

Be Aggressive on 4th Down

I’m of the opinion that field goals are of very little consequence for this team. Scoring opportunities have been so few and far between, that when you get in the red zone, you’ve got to put it in the end zone. Inside the 30 (with obvious exceptions) I’m going for it on 4th and 3 (and in obviously) and I’m running the ball.

If K-State does the hard work to make it down the field and get it close, they have to put it in the end zone.

Don’t Break Tendency

This seems a little counter intuitive, because “breaking tendency” is what most good offensive coordinators like to do. This team isn’t built like most teams. They do one thing well, and that’s run the ball, so, as I mentioned above, you’ve got to run the ball.

I don’t care about RPO’s or play action, or screen passes or even zone reads. I want straight power runs until the time on the clock makes passing a necessity. You can’t have any communication issues or blocking confusion if you’re running the same play on every down.

It’s not fun, it’s not creative, but it just might work against a TCU team that has struggled to stop the run. Just the other day I watched Georgia Tech beat Virginia Tech with the Tech QB going 0-1.

I’m running power, counter, iso and dive plays.

Note: I know this section is redundant and that’s exactly how I want the Wildcat offense on Saturday....redundant, repetitive, and effective.

Overall

This is going to be a war of attrition. If the Wildcats can avoid the big mistake and keep the TCU offense in front of them, I like their chances.

I’ll go out on a limb and predict a 24-17 K-State victory.