#6 Oklahoma At Kansas State | Here’s What You Need To Know About The Wildcats

2021 Kansas State Stats

Conference Record0-1
Points Scored Per Game28.3
Points Allowed Per Game19.5

Oklahoma takes to the road for the first time in 2021 and will face an opponent in Kansas State who is coming off of their first loss of the season. The Wildcats made an appearance in the AP Top 25 a week ago but quickly faded out after a 31-20 loss at Oklahoma State.

Driven by a ground and pound rushing attack and a stingy defense, especially against the run, Kansas State is looking to secure a three-game winning streak against the Sooners. Meanwhile, OU is looking to pick up its first win in Manhattan since Baker Mayfield led them to a 42-35 victory in 2017.

2021 Kansas State Football Results
Southern IllinoisW31-23
at Oklahoma StateL31-20

Quarterback has been, and will continue to be, a big question mark for the Wildcats since Skyler Thompson went down against Southern Illinois. He’s thought to not be ready to go against Oklahoma on Saturday despite traveling to Stillwater and going through pregame a week ago. Will Howard performed admirably in Howard’s absence, leading KSU to a 38-17 win over Nevada, but also game up injured in the first half of the Oklahoma State game. That leaves sophomore Jaren Lewis as the only known to be healthy quarterback in the top three on the depth chart going into Saturday. Wildcat coach Chris Klieman was non-committal in regards to his signal caller for Saturday but did admit that he didn’t know who would get the call should K-State need to go deeper into the bench beyond #3.

Kansas State quarterbacks are completing 54.4% of their passes this season for and average of 8.1 yards per attempt. They have thrown twice as many interceptions (4) as they have touchdowns (2) and have been sacked six times in four games. Junior wide receiver Phillip Brooks has been the most productive pass catcher for the Wildcats, hauling in 11 catches for 170 yards (15.5 YPC) on the season.

The uncertainty at quarterback puts even more focus on running back Duece Vaughn who is the sparkplug for the K-State offense. Averaging 5.2 yards per carry on the season, Vaughn is producing nearly 100 rushing yards per game and was over the 120 yard mark before getting swarmed by Oklahoma State last weekend. Not just a threat in the running game, Vaughn is also averaging 10.2 yards per reception and is one of two Wildcat players have a receiving touchdown on the season. In all, Vaughn is responsible for six touchdowns so far in 2021.

As good as he has been this season, Oklahoma State proved last weekend that putting the brakes on Duece Vaughn can also put the brakes on the entire Kansas State offense. That’s while he’ll be a high-priority key for the Sooner defense on Saturday.

Kansas State’s offense is averaging 28.3 points and 345.5 yards of offense per game in 2021. They are passing for 160.8 yards per contest and running for 184.8.

Defensively the Wildcats are surrendering 330.3 yards of offense per game and stonewalling opposing rushing attacks to an average of just 75.3 yards per game. To put that in perspective, that us four fewer yards per outing that what Oklahoma’s defense is giving up and we all know how impressive the Sooners have been to start the season.

Linebackers Cody Fletcher and Daniel Green lead the Kansas State defense. Fletcher has 26 total tackles on the season and Green is on his heels with 25. Much like Oklahoma, the Wildcat defense is aggressive at the point of attack with the inside linemen occupying blockers for the linebackers and outside rushers to clean up on plays. KSU has recorded 13 quarterback sacks this season with nine different defenders getting in on the action. The Wildcats make it a habit of getting in the opponents backfield, producing 25 tackles for loss on the season, 15 quarterback pressures, three forced fumbles, and four interceptions.

Defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah and safety Jahron McPherson have terrorized quarterbacks this season. The duo have combined for 8.5 quarterback sacks with McPherson accounting for 4.5 of those.

Perhaps it was just the perfect storm for Kansas State last week, losing all of the momentum when Will Howard went down, but Oklahoma State seemed to have laid out a blue print for attacking this Wildcat defense. The Pokes had their best offensive outing of the season, producing 31 points and 481 total yards of offense. Cowboy running back Jaylen Warren averaged 4.6 yards per carry, on his way to 123 yards, and Spencer Sanders had his best outing of the year as well. The junior OSU quarterback completed 64% of his passes for 344 yards and two scores with no interceptions. Oklahoma State had faced significant struggles on the offensive side of the ball until they hosted the Wildcats so there’s the hope that the Sooners can follow suit and begin to put their offensive struggles to bed as well.

As much as it scares me to say it, due to Oklahoma’s struggles to pass block, Lincoln Riley’s best option to attack this Wildcat defense is through the air. The Sooners need the KSU safeties and linebackers either consistently taking a step backwards or spread out at the snap in order to soften them up for the running game. Even at that, OU must win the point of attack against the Kansas State defensive front. If they don’t then we’re most likely in for another down-to-the-wire finish.

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