Looking to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2006, the Kansas State Wildcats travel to Waco, Texas Saturday afternoon to battle the Baylor Bears. Led by sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Bears have a dynamic offense that will present many problems for a young, porous Wildcat defense. Having the worse rush defense in the Big 12 and 115th nationally, Kansas State will once again be facing a Big 12 duel-threat quarterback with many of the same skills as Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez. However, Griffin is even more dangerous in that he’s become more of a threat in the passing game as this season has progressed. Averaging over 280 yards through the air and completing 66% of his passes, the Baylor signal-caller is clearly comfortable in the pocket, so it will be up to the Wildcat defense to apply pressure in the backfield and force him into quick decisions. Also, expect Kansas State to be more aggressive with their blitz packages in the hopes of being able to force Griffin to turn the ball over. The Wildcats will more than likely need to win that turnover battle to pull out a victory on Saturday.
Offensively, the Wildcats are coming off their best performance of the year last week with a 59-7 drubbing of in-state rival Kansas. Quarterback Carson Coffman played at a high level, completing 15-16 passes for 280 yards and two scores. He also ran for three touchdowns as the Wildcats moved at will against a soft KU defense. This week, Kansas State faces a quicker, more athletic Baylor defense and will need to have a balanced attack to be successful. Look for the Bears to stack the line to neutralize Wildcat RB Daniel Thomas, putting the game in Coffman’s hands. With the defense playing up closer to the line of scrimmage, it will be up to Coffman to occasionally throw the deep ball to keep Baylor honest, but primarily he will be called upon to hit the high percentage pass on first down to keep Baylor off balance. Realistically, this will be the Wildcats best chance to win if they can, in fact, move the chains and keep Griffin and the Baylor offense off the field. Kansas State has recently started to find success with intermediate passes to their tight ends, 6′ 8″ Andre McDonald and 6′ 3″ Travis Tannahill. The Baylor secondary is quick but not very big, giving the Wildcats an advantage in the middle of the field with their taller tight ends.
As has been the storyline throughout the season, for Kansas State to be successful on Saturday, the offense can’t become too one-dimensional by simply pounding Thomas between the tackles. Legendary Head Coach Bill Snyder and his coordinators are going to have to present Baylor with different looks on both offense and defense. While on the one hand, Kansas State will need to contain Griffin, this will force the Wildcat secondary to lock down on the Bear receivers which could effectively play to Baylor’s advantage with the deep pass. Despite playing against the Jayhawks, the Wildcat defense simply hasn’t proven from week to week that it’s able to stop an offense as potent as Baylor’s. Finally, the Wildcats will need a big day on special teams with effective kickoff and punt returns that result in good field position. If Kansas State spends the day starting drives inside their 20-yard line, it’s going to be a long one.
Baylor – 38
Kansas State – 28
About the Author
Written by Chad Craghead
A 1988 graduate from Wichita State University, Chad has followed WSU as well as Kansas State athletics for over 30 years, along with being a lifelong Boston Red Sox and L.A./St. Louis Rams fan.