Kansas St. vs. West Virginia#4 Kansas State and #13West Virginia will clash this Saturday in a critical Big 12 showdown. West Virginia is trying to bounce back after getting obliterated last week in Lubbock against Texas Tech. Geno Smith was held to just one touchdown, and frustrated all day against Texas Tech. Smith will need a better performance against one of the Big 12’s top defenses. On the Kansas St. side, Bill Snyder has been quietly transforming Kansas State into a Big 12 title contender. Kansas St. runs the ball well and plays good defense, which is the perfect formula for stopping a potent spread attack. Kansas St. also has a dark-horse contender for the Heisman Trophy. Collin Klein has been reminiscent of Tim Tebow with his ability to run the ball between the tackle while serving as a much more efficient passer from a year ago. This game will have huge implications in the Big 12 race, and in the BCS picture as both teams have hopes of making it to a BCS game. For West Virginia this is a must win. A loss would effectively take them out of the Big 12 title hunt, and most certainly out of contention for any BCS game. Kansas State is looking to remove all doubt from any detractors about their chances of winning a Big 12 title, and possibly even making some noise in the race for the National Championship. The job Bill Snyder has done with this Kansas St. team in just a few short years is nothing but amazing. This is what college football is all about. This will be a big football game with big implications and a Saturday night showdown for all of us college football fans to enjoy. Let’s take a look at the X’s and O’s.
Kansas State Offense vs. West Virginia Defens
Quarterback Collin Klein has been having a Tim Tebowesque season thus far. Gashing opposing defenses on the ground, and being efficient in the pass game. Kansas State’s offense can almost be characterized as a single-wing style offense. KSU will operate out of the shotgun, but believe me they are a run first power offense. KSU uses a lot of QB power, QB ISO, and option plays. Collin Klein is the most physical quarterback in the nation, and is not scared to put his head down and run you over. Klein also has the ability to run outside, and pass which makes him a dangerous QB against any defense. Especially, a defense that has played as poorly as the West Virginia defense has this year. KSU averages nearly 250 yards per game on the ground which ranks 11th best in the nation. KSU also scores a shade over 40 points per game which is good for 15th in the country. KSU’s biggest advantage in this game is their ability to control the clock through the rush game. Some people say the best defense is a good offense. In this case they may be right. By keeping Geno Smith and his dangerous wide receiving corps off the field, KSU neutralizes the most threatening part of WVU’s game. QB Collin Klein doesn’t make many mistakes, and is nearly unstoppable in third and short, or goal line situations with his in between the tackle running and play-action passing abilities. KSU will use 221 (2RB, 2TE, 1WR), 122 (1RB, 2TE, WR), and 113 (1RB, 1 TE, 3WR) sets out of the shotgun in an attempt to open up inside running lanes, and play-action passing opportunities. West Virginia will counter those sets with their base defense (3-4), and also with Nickel (4 Defensive Linemen, 2 Line Backer, and 5 Defensive Backs) sets. West Virginia has played mediocre defense against mediocre to subpar competition this year. But, they will need to be able to at least slow down a potent KSU rush attack to have a chance in this game. If the WVU defense can’t slow down the KSU rush game it will most certainly hurt the WVU rhythm on offense. Spread offenses rely heavily on developing an offensive rhythm early. We saw Texas Tech disrupt the rhythm of the WVU offense early last week, and they were never quite able to get on track. KSU will try and emulate this strategy. WVU gave up 48 points last week to an average offensive team in Texas Tech. They will be facing a juggernaut this week in comparison to what Texas Tech has to offer offensively. West Virginia is fairly young on defense so I would expect that they will rely on a high powered offense and bend but don’t break philosophy on defense to try and win this game. I’m sure that KSU will look for some big plays on the ground early to take a rowdy home crowd out of the game, and keep the WVU defense on their heels. I expect KSU to pass just enough to keep the WVU defense honest. KSU will use their potent run game to open up the play-action pass and generate some money plays against a young WVU secondary. The only chance WVU has is to get some early stops, and allow their offense to generate a lead. KSU’s offense isn’t built to play from a large deficit. So I would expect WVU to take some chances early on some blitzes, and get KSU into predictable passing situations. If WVU can get some early stops, and force some punts, or a turn-over it might be enough for their offense to get rolling and build an insurmountable lead. But, if they can’t than KSU will run the ball, control the clock, and win the game.
Highlight video of Collin Klein
Advantage: Kansas State
West Virginia Offense vs. Kansas State Defense
Despite being off his game last week, Heisman contender Geno Smith will look to get back on track against the Kansas State Defense. West Virginia will operate a more pass happy spread than Kansas St. They will run the ball just enough to keep the defense honest, but their air raid attack is what they rely on to score points. Geno Smith has been extremely efficient at QB minus the debacle against Texas Tech last week. Smith was held to just 29 completions out of 55 attempts, 275 yards, and one touchdown. Those numbers are well below his average, and I would expect Smith to bounce back this week. Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder will have the Wildcats defense well prepared, so it will not be easy pickings for WVU. The Mountaineers will utilize primarily 104 (1 RB, 4WR), 005 (5 WR), 014 (1 TE, 4 WR), and 203 (2 RB, 3 WR) sets. Given the experience of Smith, Head Coach Dana Holgorsen allows him to make a lot of adjustments at the line of scrimmage depending on the type of defense he sees. The wide receivers for WVU will also make “sight adjustments” based on the coverages they see during the course of any given play. WVU will utilize a variety of pre-snap motions to both identify defensive coverage’, and look for match-up advantages against the secondary of the defense. WVU has serious firepower at the wide receiver position. Tavon Austin and his fellow wide receiver Stedman Bailey will give the KSU defense all they can handle in terms of athleticism. Kansas St. is not your typical Big 12 defense in the sense that they actually PLAY a little defense. KSU is currently 18th in the country in points against per game allowing only 16.5. KSU also boasts an excellent rushing game. What does that have to do with their defense? Running the ball keeps the clock rolling, limits the opportunities of the opposing offense, allows you to control the clock at any point during the game, and can also prevent the opposing offense from getting into a rhythm offensively. I think the KSU rush offense could be their biggest DEFENSIVE advantage in this game. WVU doesn’t have a great defense, and I can see the KSU rush offense translating it into a barrier in the ability for Smith and WVU to generate any rhythm on offense. KSU utilizes a 4-3 base defense and a bend but don’t break philosophy. As with any Bill Snyder coached team, expect the KSU defense to be disciplined and not give up big plays. Kansas St. cannot allow Gino Smith to sit back and pick them apart. But, I don’t believe they have the athletes to play much man to man coverage either. I would expect a balance between zone coverage, and zone blitzes. I also expect KSU to camouflage their coverage and make it difficult for Smith to identify their coverage pre-snap. Smith is a throw first QB, but is a good athlete, and does have the ability to move around in the pocket and hurt you with his running ability. However, Smith has been reluctant to pull the ball down and run when he has the opportunity. This hurt WVU against Texas Tech last week and Smith will need to make better decisions this week if he hopes to get a victory against a stingy KSU defense. KSU’s defense is superior to that of Texas Tech, and Smith will need a much better performance this week. I definitely think Smith will bounce back, but will it be enough to win?
Advantage: West Virginia
Todd McShay breaks down Geno Smith
X’s and O’s Pick: Kansas State
I know that West Virginia is the popular pick to bounce back and get a win this week. Despite a setback last week the potency of Geno Smith, Tavon Austin, and Stedman Baily on offense cannot be denied. That being said how can I pick against Bill Snyder and Collin Klein. Snyder has been quietly building a juggernaut at KSU in the few short years since he re-took the helm as Head Coach for Kansas St. He has the perfect formula for shutting down a potent spread attack, and I do not believe that this is a coincidence. How do you shut down an elite QB, and elite WR’s in a high powered spread attack? Limit their opportunities on the field, and disrupt their offensive rhythm. Most Big 12 schools like WVU utilize high powered spread attacks. KSU kind of goes against the grain with a run-oriented, ball control shotgun attack. This is a very innovative offense, and with Klein at the helm very effective as well. And the offense Snyder runs helps their defense in the sense that it is designed to control the clock, flow of game, and keep high powered spread attacks off the field. I know all the talk this week has been about Geno Smith and his poor performance last week, but I think the real key in this game is Klein. If Collin Klein can lead the KSU offense on long drives, and make some big plays against a young secondary, KSU will roll. However, if you give Smith enough opportunities he will bury you. For all the advantages Snyder’s offensive attack brings, its primary weakness is an inability to come back from a large deficit. In a game featuring two potent offenses I think defense will be the ultimate deciding factor. If WVU can get a few stops on defense, and the WVU rolls on offense as they have been in all but one game this year than there is no question WVU comes out on top in this one. But, I don’t see the WVU defense being very effective against Klein and the KSU offense. Like I said up top, it’s popular to pick the potent WVU attack lead by Heisman contender Gino Smith. But, I’m going to play the scheme game. And in this instance I think the Kansas St. scheme will provide them with a huge advantage in this game. I don’t see WVU getting many stops Saturday, and I can’t say enough about the job Bill Snyder is doing at KSU. Dana Holgorsen has also done a fine job bringing WVU back into a contender, but Saturday belongs to the crafty veteran Snyder. I say Kansas St. wins a close one with QB Collin Klein having a big day.