Chuba Hubbard had Heisman Trophy aspirations coming into the 2020 season.
While the Oklahoma State running back’s numbers so far this season have not been as gaudy as expected, slowing Hubbard remains a key focus for Kansas State as the Wildcats host the No. 14 Cowboys on Saturday afternoon in Manhattan, Kan.
Hubbard rushed for 296 yards and a touchdown in Oklahoma State’s 26-13 victory over Kansas State last season.
“We gave up the explosive play via the run last year; we cannot do that and be successful,” Wildcats head coach Chris Klieman said. “We have to limit those explosive plays. We need to tackle better; we need to fit things better. We didn’t fit things very well in the run game last year. That’s been a point of emphasis and will continue to be throughout the week.”
Coming off a 2,094-yard season last year, Hubbard has just 550 yards (4.6 yards per carry) through five games this year. But Klieman also is concerned with other weapons on the Oklahoma State offense.
“They’re a good football team for sure,” he said. “They can beat you at every level. Their quarterback (Spencer Sanders) can beat you with his arm or his feet. They have two great running backs. One, everybody knows about (Hubbard), but they have two very talented running backs (with LD Brown). And I think they have one of the best wide receivers in the country in (Tylan) Wallace.
“We have our hands full trying to come up with a plan. You can’t stop them, just try to slow them down.”
Oklahoma State (4-1, 3-1 Big 12) dominated Texas on the stat page last Saturday in a 41-34 overtime loss, but four costly turnovers doomed the Cowboys. Coach Mike Gundy is not worried about a carryover effect.
“We had a good showing of leadership (Sunday),” Gundy said. “(Offensive lineman) Josh Sills was doing really well. Tylan was doing really well. Spencer was doing really well. We have a number of players who have stepped up and are doing a really good job with leading our team.”
The Cowboys ranks fourth in total offense and second in rushing offense in the Big 12. Oklahoma State is rated second in total defense and first in scoring defense.
“We have quite a bit of experience and we have decent and quality depth on defense,” Gundy said. “This is the first year in a number of years that we’ve been in that situation. That’s helping our players get quality reps.”
Kansas State (4-2, 4-1) is ranked sixth in scoring offense in the conference and tied for fourth in scoring defense while ranking eighth in total offense and total defense.
Gundy is not swayed by those stats.
“They’re a tough football team,” Gundy said. “They play quality defense. They take a lot of pride in tackling. Offensively, they slipped a little bit last week, but prior to that, you can see a team that’s played well and won a lot of football games.”
–Field Level Media