The biggest question surrounding TCU’s matchup with Kansas State on a national level is Wildcat quarterback Collin Klein and the status of his injury.
Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder has said he expects Klein to be on the field for Saturday’s game, but, with no injury reporting policies in the Big 12 conference, teams can mask injuries to keep their game plan secret.
For example, TCU running back Waymon James was a “game-time decision” less than a week before undergoing season-ending surgery.
However, FOX Sports broadcaster Charles Davis, who will call Saturday’s prime-time game in Fort Worth, said the Horned Frogs could be in more trouble if Klein doesn’t play.
“Kansas State is a team that can commit four quarters to the run,” Davis said. “That’s who they are.”
TCU has the no. 1 run defense in the Big 12, but hasn’t played a team thus far that commits four quarters to its running game, he said. The Frogs lead the Big 12 in allowing just over 96 rush yards per game, but the Wildcat offense averages 224 yards on the ground in 2012.
Gus Johnson, Davis’s broadcast partner on FOX who will be sharing the call on Saturday, labeled the Wildcats a “throwback team” because of their emphasis on the run. Kansas State also runs a version of the option with Klein under center.
Davis said Kansas State’s veteran head coach Bill Snyder would have a game plan for backup quarterback Daniel Sams in the event that Klein’s injury keeps him off the field.
“Bill Snyder is going to want to limit possibilities of error for [Sams],” he said, “which means an even heavier run emphasis in the game.”
With or without Klein, the Wildcats will be tested by a team Davis called fearless.
“They’ve really excelled mentally,” Davis said. “They haven’t backed down from any challenge. It really doesn’t matter who they’re playing, they go out, accept the challenge, and are right there in the end in most of their football games.”
The Frogs face their toughest test of the season against the second-ranked team in the country. Kansas State is the highest-ranked squad to take the field at Amon G. Carter Stadium in 42 years. The University of Texas came to Fort Worth with the same ranking in 1970.
Johnson said Kansas State’s confidence would present an obstacle for a young TCU team.
“Kansas State is a very dominant team, they’re the second best team in the country. That’s going to cause some nerves,” Johnson said.
Both Johnson and Davis agreed that Kansas State’s physicality would also be a challenge for TCU.
“They’re very balanced, and they’re very physical,” Johsnon said. “They run a great system on both sides of the ball.”
“They’re going to line up and slug for sixty minutes,” Davis said.
Assessing the conference
Kansas State sits atop a conference that has had nine of its ten teams see time in the national top-25 rankings this season.
“I think there is a lot of parity in the Big 12 this year. With who can beat whom each week, we’re seeing it all the time now,” Davis said.
“These are some rugged, rugged teams [in the Big 12],” Johnson said. “There’s just a lot of great balance in the conference.”
- Charles Davis played college football at Tennessee from 1983-’86. TCU’s current defensive coordinator, Dick Bumpas, was the Volunteers’ defensive coordinator for two of those seasons, in 1985-’86.
- Davis last broadcasted a TCU football game in the 2007 Texas Bowl when the Frogs took on Houston. The quarterbacks in that game were Andy Dalton and Case Keenum, both freshmen at the time.
- Gus Johnson established success first as a broadcaster of basketball games, but has made the transition to calling some of the biggest college football games each week.
- Johnson and Davis also broadcast regional NFL telecasts together.