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October is glorious, but will we get the same from TCU against KSU?

October 18, 2019

My 25th time at the Texas-OU game was also my wife Linda's first. Isn't that Hawaiian shirt in front of us amazing? Courtesy of John Denton

My 25th time at the Texas-OU game was also my wife Linda’s first. Isn’t that Hawaiian shirt in front of us amazing? Courtesy of John Denton

October is the best. The weather has cooled and some of the best weather days of the year happen now. October means college football is in full gear, college basketball is around the corner and the State Fair of Texas is going on — Big Tex, Corny Dogs and Texas-OU. Last Saturday on TCU’s open date, I took my wife, Linda, to the Texas-OU game. She had never been and we had a blast, even got to tailgate. We had some great seats behind an OU fan in a sweet Hawaiian shirt. The whole thing is a spectacle with the fair going on: the crowds, the aroma of corny dogs, funnel cakes and the Cotton Bowl. Cramming ourselves through the narrow concourses and finding our way to our seats reminded me of 70’s era Texas-OU games (for me this was #25) and Dallas Cowboys games from the late ’60s and early ’70s. For me, a kid who grew up in Dallas going to that place, returning there is just plain therapeutic. I highly recommend it.

And please, mustard only on the corny dog!

Now we hit the halfway mark of the TCU football season with a trip to the “Little Apple,” Manhattan, Kansas, to take on the Wildcats of Kansas State. At one time, Kansas State was officially known as Kansas State University of Agriculture and Applied Science. Big diplomas to fit all that in, huh?

Big game Saturday, too. The Frogs and Powercats (that’s their logo) are fighting for their Big 12 lives. Kansas State, 3-2 (0-2) has already suffered two league losses to Okie State and Baylor. The Frogs have had two weeks to marinate in the aftermath of blowout loss at Iowa State to the tune of 49-24, in which the Frogs seemed to leave their energy in the halftime locker room.

At 3-2, we are all waiting, along with Coach P, to find out what this team is and who it is.

Is it the team that throttled Purdue with dominating defense and a road-grader running game against Kansas? Or the slow-starting, get-behind and melt-down-the-stretch team we saw vs. SMU and Iowa State?

I’m hoping for the former and I’ll think we’ll see it at Kansas State, but it will have to be earned.

The Wildcats still love to slow it down. Even though coaching legend Bill Snyder has stepped aside and new head K-State Coach Chris Klieman has come in from North Dakota State, KSU still likes to slow it down. It is second in the nation in time of possession, averaging 35:22 per game. It has almost no passing game – its passing stats look like something from the Darrell Royal Wishbone era at UT. Kansas State has only hit the 200-yard passing mark twice this year. QB Skylar Thompson averages 22 attempts and has yet to pass for more than 220 yards in a game. K-State relies heavily on a clock-sponging running game that features James Gilbert, a transfer from Ball State who cranks out nearly six yards per carry and has found the end zone four times already.

Look for the Wildcats to try to control the clock and the tempo.

Darius Anderson carries the ball during last season's 17-14 win against Iowa State. Look for him to make some moves on Saturday against Kansas State. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Darius Anderson carries the ball during last season’s 17-14 win against Iowa State. Look for him to make some moves on Saturday against Kansas State. Photo by Glen E. Ellman

Defensively, Kansas State has been decent, although it has struggled at times against the run. Hello TCU’s Darius Anderson! The defensive line returned all four starters and its best players are #51 DE Reggie Walker, who has 16 career sacks and #91 DT Jordan Mittie (his dad, Jeff, is the former TCU Women’s Basketball coach, now at KSU). The linebackers are decent and the secondary is full of experience and it shows as it leads the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and it’s ranked #5 in the nation in overall pass defense.

Kansas State, as is tradition, is solid in the kicking game. Kicker Blake Lynch is only 5-5 in height but he has a big leg that’s accurate (20-23 in his career). Punter Devin Anctil can move it with a 44 yard average and a long of 65 (there may be opportunities for TCU in the punt return game). Kansas State’s dangerous return man, Malik Knowles, is injured and is listed as doubtful.

Here’s how the Frogs win in Manhattan:

  • Start fast
  • Create turnovers
  • Give great effort (especially on defense)
  • Get pressure and be great on 3rd downs (the Frogs have to extend drives)
  • And one other thing: test Kansas State’s secondary deep — TCU gets back big speed components this week in WR’s Taye Barber and Mikel Barkley and big plays await.

Unlike our last trip to Manhattan in 2017, when the Frogs had to endure two weather delays in a game that didn’t want to end, the weather forecast for Saturday is perfect. Sunny and 72.

We’re on the air at 12:30 p.m. CT on the Horned Frogs Sports Network. Join us on WBAP 820 AMKTCU-FM 88.7, XM 387, the Riff Ram App (Google PlayApple), or TuneIn App.

Until then,

Kick ‘Em High!