MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State earned its’ first Big 12 victory of the season last Saturday, but it was somewhat bittersweet.
Despite holding Texas Tech’s offense scoreless over the final two quarters, Kansas State’s defense allowed 24 points in the first half, including three touchdowns. That’s something senior linebacker Cody Fletcher drastically wants to change as the Wildcats navigate through their remaining five games.
Fletcher understands in order for the defense to be successful, all 11 defenders must execute and do their job. There were several missed tackles in the first half against the Red Raiders. The defensive line didn’t plug up the holes and the linebackers took poor tackling angles. Which is why it was no surprise the unit allowed two 10-play scoring drives.
“When you watch film, and when we’re doing stuff right, we were stopping them like we did in the second half,” Fletcher said. “After the first half, we just cleaned up a few things and were good to go.”
Making adjustments is nothing new to the former three-star prospect, and it’s something he feels Kansas State’s defense is very capable of doing at any point in a game. Fletcher prides himself on setting the tone for the defense and his teammates usually feed off of his energy.
He already stockpiled eight stops and a sack in the season-opening win over Stanford. Not to mention Fletcher tallied 10 tackles against Oklahoma State. Now the Texas native is preparing to take on another team from his home state in TCU. Fletcher is expecting the Wildcats’ defense to put together a complete game against the Horned Frogs.
However, TCU’s offense is no slouch, especially on the ground. Running back Zach Evans has four 100-yard rushing performances this fall, and his teammate Kendre Miller steamrolled for 185 against Texas Tech. Max Duggan is one of the most experienced quarterbacks in the league and has dangerous mobility.
So Fletcher and the Wildcats will need to be ready, especially in the trenches. Controlling the line of scrimmage from the start will be vital if Kansas State (4-3) has any hopes of ending its’ two-game losing streak at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“They (TCU) have some explosive players, as you know,” he said. “They have really good running backs, a couple good receivers and the quarterback is a playmaker.”
Although Kansas State’s defense is 23rd in the country at stopping the run, the unit has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns, which ranks eighth in the Big 12. So the defense will have a slim margin for error. Gary Patterson is one the longest-tenured coaches in the FBS and he’s a natural at exploiting glaring weaknesses.
Still, the Wildcats’ defense have momentum. Fletcher is confident the unit will be up for the challenge this Saturday. Everyone on defense is dialed in and focused on the task at hand. There’s no denying TCU (3-4) has an arsenal of weapons though. Regardless, Fletcher is prepared to show out and deliver another home victory for the purple and white.
“I think that the big thing this week is limiting the running backs, especially from getting out and making big plays.”