AUSTIN (KXAN) — Kansas State defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman isn’t quite sure what to think about Texas redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy.
In a press conference Thursday, Klanderman said since there’s so little video to review of Murphy and how he runs the Texas offense, it will be a reactive scenario for him.
“I don’t know that we know what’s going to come with Maalik Murphy right now,” Klanderman said. “That will unfold itself as it goes.”
Klanderman thinks Murphy is “very capable” of running the entire offense like Quinn Ewers would. Still, there’s a level of mystery to him in regards to the complexity Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian will put in the gameplan.
MORE THAN THE SCORE: Stay up to date on sports stories like these, and sign up for our More than the Score sports newsletter at kxan.com/newsletters
“I just don’t know how much complexity they’re going to put on some of that stuff. So, it’ll be interesting to see how that unfolds,” he said.
Something the Longhorns have been fighting since the Red River Rivalry is scoring in the red zone. Texas is No. 100 in FBS in red zone offense, scoring 78.8% of the time with 16 touchdowns and 10 field goals in 33 tries. Klanderman is baffled by that.
“I don’t know if that is anything that they’re doing. I think they are as schematically diverse down there as anybody,” he said. “I can’t answer that. I think they had a couple of good breaks, a couple of passes that were inches away and dropped the ball here or there. It makes a big difference, and they’ve been on the wrong end of that.”
Kansas State, ranked No. 23 in the first College Football Playoff committee poll, allows teams to score in the red zone 80% of the time. That’s No. 44 in FBS, so it’s good but not elite like the Texas red zone defense, ranked No. 6. However, Klanderman said his defense tries to get to another gear when teams get inside the 20-yard line. He mentioned a drive against Houston where the Cougars took possession in Kansas State’s red zone and the Wildcats stood up and preserved the shutout.
“Our guys definitely have that in the back of their heads as something that they’re proud of,” he said. “I don’t think that it changes our approach to any play or any call that we do. It’s just hopefully treating every play the same whether in the red zone or not.”
On the other side of the red zone situation, Wildcats offensive coordinator Collin Klein said they kicked too many field goals last year and made it a point to put more red zone attempts in the end zone. Kansas State scores in the red zone 92.5% of the time this season, No. 17 in FBS, and it’s almost always a touchdown. Out of 37 red zone scores this season, 33 have been for six points.
“They’ve embraced that mindset and that level of focus from last season, and it’s something that we’ve spent time on as a staff,” Klein said. He played quarterback for the Wildcats from 2010-2012 and won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2012. “It’s been fun to dive into that, solve some problems, and answer some questions. We kind of stay ahead of things that way.”