Manhattan Whether they're on offense or defense, dealing with the pass hasn't been the Kansas State Wildcats' strength this season.
But with quarterback Luke McCown and Louisiana Tech putting the ball in the air and scoring at record paces, the Wildcats know exactly what to focus on this Saturday. If history is an indicator, though, that won't be so simple for defensive coordinator Phil Bennett's players.
Although the Wildcats rank ninth in the country in rushing defense, they've looked disoriented against passing teams and have given up costly pass plays in important games.
"We've matched up better against power teams like Nebraska," strong safety Jon McGraw said. "Our secondary has struggled a lot against teams like Texas Tech. So this will be a great opportunity for us."
Kansas State has given up 10 passing touchdowns and 177 yards per game this season, but three losses to some of the best passing teams in the Big 12 (Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Colorado) have been less forgiving.
Oklahoma passed for 316 yards against the Wildcats en route to a 38-37 win. Two weeks later Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury went 32-of-48 with 409 yards passing, including a 60-yarder to Wes Welker, in a 38-19 win for the Red Raiders.
"We've played two teams that throw the ball for a living," coach Bill Snyder said. "We have to shore up our best game. Our secondary better play with confidence.
Louisiana Tech brings a similar passing attack into Saturday's game. McCown has passed for 3,058 yards and 26 touchdowns for the 7-3 Ragin' Cajuns. He's completing 60 percent of his passes and leads an offense that is on pace to break the school record for scoring.
With McCown and three receivers who each have more than 650 total receiving yards this year, Louisiana Tech is averaging 39.6 points a game.
"He's good," Snyder said of McCown. "The number's speak for themselves. He's the number three ranked passing quarterback in the country and they're scoring a lot. That says it all."
Bennett said not getting enough pressure on the quarterback and injuries to two defensive starters have hurt the Wildcats this season. The defensive line, which returned no starters from last season, is tied for the last in the Big 12 in sacks with 16.
"I'm at a higher stress level for this game," Bennett said. "On offense, we have to throw the ball. Defensively, we'll have to stop it. They know it and we know it."