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Kansas State Defensive Preview: Attacking the Weakness

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This seems to be a classic case of a Bill Snyder coached football team. No big names, but still find a way to do the damage. Especially on defense. The Oklahoma State offensive line better be ready for this one. It'll be harder than Texas.

Jordan Willis will be a problem for the Cowboys just like in 2014.
Jordan Willis will be a problem for the Cowboys just like in 2014.
Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Every Man a Pass Rusher:

Mason Rudolph has been protected sufficiently so far by the Oklahoma State offensive line. From a pass protection standpoint the beef up front hasn't struggled near as much as it has with run blocking. That being said, the pass rush last week was the appetizer and the Wildcat defensive line and linebackers are the prime sirloin you ordered. Each player in the box has the ability to get into the backfield and hurry or take down the quarterback. Rudolph has the size to be a tough out, but it won't be just one body trying to bring him down in some cases. Jordan Willis sacked Daxx Garman last year in Manhattan and will be the man that will probably be the first in the backfield come Saturday. Size wise, Jeff Driskel at Louisiana Tech, who the Wildcats played last, is about as comparable to Rudolph as any other quarterback they have faced this season. Willis wreaked havoc in that game recording three and a half sacks. He wasn't the only one in on the party. Two other players would record sacks and bring the game total to six. Not saying that will happen but six team sacks in one game is impressive no matter the opponent.

A Britz Wall:

Another major cog in the Wildcat defensive line is tackle Travis Britz. Britz was one of the difference makers last season against the Cowboys and could be the biggest problem for the Cowboys this weekend. If you have noticed so far the guards and center position have been the most often areas of penetration. Britz and his counterpart Will Geary may honestly be better than the Texas defensive tackles, mainly due to Britz's experience. If you will remember, Poona Ford for the Longhorns was a redshirt freshman starting at defensive tackle for the Longhorns. Britz is by no means green. Britz led the team in sacks last season's game against the Cowboys and the front hasn't changed too much personnel wise from a year ago. Britz on Paul Lewis and even Brad Lundblade are red flags will be pivotal match ups for the Cowboys to focus on.

Comfortably Numb:

Last week, we all saw Mason Rudolph struggle at times with accuracy in his throws. He was making all the right reads, as Mike Gundy pointed out during the postgame press conference, but was not putting the right touch on the errant passes. It came out later that Rudolph was enduring a feeling of numbness in his throwing hand, which likely played a role in those bad passes and the head-scratching fumble in the second quarter. All of that is to say this; the Kansas State defense, while their strength in talent is still in the front seven, the most experience is in the Wildcat secondary. Three of the four starters from last season are back. Now the news of Dante Barnett missing this game is huge. Barnett was rumored to be able to return to the field this week, but Bill Snyder shut down those rumors.

<style>.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }</style><div class='embed-container'><blockquote class='twitter-tweet' lang='en'><p lang='en' dir='ltr'>Bill Snyder says injured SS Dante Barnett "in all likelihood" will not play at Oklahoma State</p>— Ken Corbitt (@KenCorbitt) <a href='https://twitter.com/KenCorbitt/status/648917809557209088'>September 29, 2015</a></blockquote> <script async src='//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js' charset='utf-8'></script></div>

That puts redshirt junior Donnie Starks at the strong safety position. Starks has been been an active, open-field tackler for the Wildcats. Starks did in fact record a tackle for loss against the Cowboys in last season's drubbing in Manhattan. His matchup against the cowboy-back duo of Blake Jarwin and Jeremy Seaton will be key, as well as the matchup against the 15-yard post route that eviscerated Texas the entire game in Austin. James Washington and David Glidden could be needed more than ever in this game. Rudolph's hand is supposedly fine now, but his inaccuracy, if it continues, will haunt the Cowboys as it almost did against the Longhorns.