MANHATTAN — Bill Snyder isn’t giving Texas any bulletin-board material.
The Kansas State football team had difficulties moving the ball during its past two games — a 14-7 loss at Vanderbilt and a 33-20 victory over Baylor — but Snyder thinks things will be even tougher for the Wildcats on offense when they play Texas on Saturday.
“They are obviously the best defensive football team we will face up to this point in time,” Snyder said.
Texas has impressed Snyder on paper and on video. Every defender listed on the Longhorns’ depth chart stands at least 6 feet tall and weighs 200-plus pounds. Starting defensive end Charles Omenihu towers above all but the biggest players in college football at 6-foot-7, 280 pounds. This is a physically gifted group.
And they have been proving it on the field. Since a 51-41 loss to Maryland in Tom Herman’s first game as coach, Texas has reeled off three straight impressive defensive outings to even its record at 2-2 and start 1-0 in the Big 12.
First, it shutout San Jose State 56-0, then it lost to USC in double overtime 27-24 and then won at Iowa State 17-7. The Longhorns have allowed an average of 11.3 points in their past three games, making this a difficult matchup for the Wildcats.
“Up front, they are very physical,” Snyder said. “They have got good size, they have got good range. You look across the entire defense and you don’t see any 5-foot-4 guys running around in there. They have a 6-7 pass rusher. All of their secondary is kind of a stair step. They are 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, across the board. You don’t see that in the back end a great deal. They have those physical capabilities and they are athletic to go along with it.”
Texas has been at its best against the run. The Longhorns rank second in the Big 12 and 17th nationally with a run defense that allows 96.5 yards per game. Opponents have found some success through the air, averaging 247.8 yards, but their efficiency rate has been low with a completion percentage of 54.9.
K-State will need a strong offensive effort to win in Austin.
Not the easiest of tasks when you consider K-State receivers have battled drops over the past two games. Against Vanderbilt and Baylor, Jesse Ertz completed 37.8 percent of his passes for 195 yards a touchdown and two interceptions.
“They have got some pretty big defensive backs,” K-State receiver Dalton Schoen said. “They run a variety of different coverages — zone and man. They switch it up. It will be real important for us to identify that and get in the right spots.”
“What we need to do is execute the way we know how, like we did in weeks one and two. Granted that came against lower caliber defenses, but it all comes down to executing the game plan and performing well. We know we can put up points. We just need to go out and do it.”
K-State’s running game will also be put to the test against a big defensive line and a group of athletic linebackers.
The biggest handful of them all might be Malik Jefferson. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound defender from Mesquite, Texas leads the Longhorns with 33 tackles and a sack.
“Malik has been a guy that everyone has been high on for a long time,” Snyder said, “and he hasn’t done anything to change anyone’s opinion. That young guy runs around and finds ways to get to the football. He will hit you. They have got a lot of guys like that.”