AUSTIN (AP) – Texas already knew what the rest of the Big 12 had to find out: Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is tough to tackle and nearly impossible to keep out of the end zone.
Klein got a surprise starting call shortly before Longhorns and Wildcats met last season and rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns in a 39-14 Kansas State romp.
The teams meet again Saturday night and Texas (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) certainly remembers last season’s loss to Klein and the No. 16 Wildcats (8-2, 5-2).
“It’s been embarrassing to see all year,” Texas safety Blake Gideon said. “For somebody to get behind blockers and just run it down your throat the whole night, that’s the biggest slap in the face to any defensive player.”
Klein has been doing that all across the Big 12 this year. His 24 rushing touchdowns lead the nation and he needs just three more to tie Texas running back Ricky Williams for the Big 12 season record set in 1998.
Klein averages 101 yards rushing, ranking second in the conference. He ran for five touchdowns and passed for another last week in a thrilling overtime win over Texas A&M.
Even down near the goal line, when everyone on the field, in the stadium and watching on television knows he’s going to run, he gets to the end zone. And a quarterback who is willing to duck his head in the trenches is fun to block for.
“When it gets to that point, it’s pretty much lay your ears back and play smashmouth football,” Wildcats center B.J. Finney said. “You’re going to try and hit the guy as hard as you can and get him moved out of the way. There’s really not anything fancy about it.”
Several Texas players compared Klein to former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, yet all Longhorns linebacker Jordan Hicks sees is a quarterback he can hit.
“We’ve got to hammer him,” Hicks said. “We always want to hit the quarterback.”
Hicks only had one tackle against the Wildcats last season so he may not know how tough it can be to bring Klein down. Teams have been bashing Klein every chance they get but he keeps getting up and keeps scoring.
“There are no words to explain Collin,” Kansas State wide receiver Tramaine Thompson said. “He is our leader and is very tough.”
Klein has so far escaped injury. Texas has not.
The Longhorns are a wounded team.
Do-everything team leader and tailback senior Fozzy Whittaker — whom coach Mack Brown called the heart of the offense — is lost for the season with torn ligaments in his right knee. Freshmen running backs Malcolm Brown (toe) and Joe Bergeron (hamstring) both missed last week’s loss to Missouri and their status may not be known until kickoff.
The Texas running game that averaged 440 yards in wins over Kansas and Texas Tech disappeared last week, leaving freshman quarterback David Ash to struggle in his first road start.
Ash gets to come back home and play in front of about 100,000 Texas fans Saturday night, but if Texas can’t run again, he could struggle. Without the running game to support him, Ash was 13 of 29 with an interception against Missouri and Texas converted just three first downs after its first drive.
“We’ve got us a mess right now,” Brown said.
Kansas State is the only Big 12 team with a winning record (6-5) over Texas and has won the last three meetings, handing Brown some of his worst losses in the Big 12.
“They’ve outcoached us and outhit us for years,” Brown said.
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)