Posted November 3, 2017 01:41 pm - Updated November 3, 2017 03:39 pm

Know the foe: Kansas State at Texas Tech

Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek is No. 5 nationally in passing at 332.9 yards a game. (The Associated Press)

Mention Texas Tech football and the first thought that comes to mind is the passing game. The Red Raiders still fling it around, but two areas that haven’t been at the forefront in the past are showing some improvement: Running the ball and defense.

It’s a more balanced Red Raider team that Kansas State takes on Saturday in Lubbock, and Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury said it will take a complete effort to get past the Wildcats and snap their three-game losing streak.

“We just have to put a complete game together,” Kingsbury said. “We’ve had moments when we played very good in stretches but haven’t been consistent throughout any of our four losses, and we haven’t won the turnover battle in any of those four losses. That’s a huge statistic for our program.

“We have to figure out how to get some takeaways and how to protect it better because we know we’re going to have limited possessions against Kansas State. We have to take advantage of every one offensively and defensively find a way to get some stops and create some turnovers.”

TEXAS TECH OFFENSE: Quarterback Nic Shimonek is No. 5 nationally in passing at 332.9 yards a game and running back Justin Stockton is No. 7 in the Big 12 in rushing at 70.7 yards a game.

“They throw the ball around an awful lot,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “They have devoted themselves to enhance the running game and create a little more balance in their offense. I think that has been effective for them.”

Still, it’s pass-first for Tech as Shimonek, a fifth-year senior transfer from Iowa, has kept the offense rolling after the departure of Patrick Mahomes to the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs.

“He has a good deal of poise about him,” Snyder said. “He seems to have a very good understanding of what they do at Texas Tech. He throws the ball well. He can run it if he has to. He’s not the fastest youngster in the world but he certainly can run the ball, bring it down on scrambles, run the quarterback draw and few other things they can do with him in the running game.”

TEXAS TECH DEFENSE: The Raiders are No. 7 in the Big 12 in total defense, just behind K-State, giving up 450 yards a game. That’s 104 yards a game better than last season

It’s an aggressive unit that ranks second in the conference with 10 interceptions – twice as many as all of last year -- but also has a hand in Tech being the most penalized team in the conference at 80 yards a game.

“I think they are playing better defensively,” Snyder said. “They still have some troubles, but who doesn’t in this conference? They have more balance in their offense, which helps their defense, as well.

“They are an aggressive team in the secondary. They are also a heavily penalized team and those two things kind of go hand in hand sometimes. Pass interference calls normally come from very aggressive secondary play, yet very aggressive secondary players get turnovers as well so they are on both ends of that. They do a nice job trying to strip the ball.”

The Raiders are tied with K-State for second in the Big 12 with a plus-seven turnover margin.

“We’re a team that as the turnover margin goes, we go,” Kingsbury said. “The games we’ve lost this year we haven’t done great in that department and the games we’ve won we have, so we have to somehow find a way to get some takeaways and make sure we protect it because it’s an opportunistic (Wildcat) defense and you know you’re not going to get a ton of possessions when you play Kansas State.”