Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: K-State Makes Key Plays, Even on Defense, to Beat Texas Tech ; Haskin: Cats Capitalize on D

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Kevin Haskin: K-State Makes Key Plays, Even on Defense, to Beat Texas Tech ; Haskin: Cats Capitalize on D

Article excerpt

MANHATTAN -- Defensive improvement can be exposed as fraudulent anytime Texas Tech shows up to play football.

The Red Raiders are always capable of exposing flaws. Considering Patrick Mahomes is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in America, Tech opponents are vulnerable again this year.

Kansas State was a case in point Saturday. Yet it also happened to lull Tech into taking too much for granted as the Wildcats outlasted the Red Raiders 44-38 in Snyder Family Stadium.

Twice in the third quarter, Tech tried to convert fourth downs and failed.

The first opportunity was at the K-State 2. Rather than kick a field goal to forge a tie, Mahomes called for a quick snap and threw incomplete into the back of the end zone.

The bigger head-scratcher, though, came late in the period. Tech faced fourth-and-7 from the K-State 41.

Brazenly sure that his offense could do anything it wanted, Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury instructed the Raiders to go for it. Before Mahomes could locate any of his many gifted receivers, the junior was buried by blitzing K-State linebacker Reggie Walker, setting up the Wildcats for a go-ahead touchdown.

K-State did not make a ton of big stops. Tech converted 9 of 16 third downs. But those two fourth-down blunders were evidence that slick offensive execution at "the speed of light,'' to borrow from Cats coach Bill Snyder, does not win every game.

Even in the defense-challenged Big 12.

Since taking over as the Tech coach in 2013, Kingsbury has made good on his promise to provide Air Raid wizardry. Yet the Red Raiders have consistently languished in the last quartile of the Bowl Subdivision in total defense. This year is no different. They entered Saturday's game ranked 111th nationally.

Kansas State has the capacity to boost any defense. The Cats have struggled to gain a consistent rhythm as Jesse Ertz has settled into his first full season as a starter while throwing to average receivers behind an inexperienced offensive line.

Yet the Cats often figure out ways to make plays.

In all phases.

A pick-six from D. …

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