Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/2/13
Kansas defensive coordinator Dave Campo will send a variety of looks and coverages at Texas Tech's young quarterbacks this Saturday. He’ll try to confuse them by shifting Kansas’ versatile secondary throughout the day and moving safeties in-and-out of the box as he has all season.However, I predict that a few key early third downs will make or break Kansas' chances to keep the game close. When third down comes, the pressure mounts for both teams and Campo sends a blitz, these are the man-to-man match-ups I want to see.So. WR Jakeem Grant (5’ 6”, 160 pounds) vs. So. SS Isaiah Johnson (6’ 1”, 210 pounds)This lightning-quick receiver is a tough match-up athletically for Johnson. However, the diminutive Grant doesn’t go downfield much; he does most of his work behind the line of scrimmage. Johnson does his best work near that area.If the young safety is able to occasionally shed blockers and make clean tackles, this duel is in Kansas' draw.Sr. WR Eric Ward (6’ 0”, 205 pounds) vs. Jr. CB Jacorey Shepherd (5’ 11”, 190 pounds)For the majority of the game, Shepherd may trail Bradley Marquez. However, Tech’s biggest receiver likes to set up shop just past the sticks on third downs.Shepherd isn’t much smaller and has the speed and quickness to give Ward no cushion at the line of scrimmage and close quickly on intermediate passes.So. RB Deandre Washington (5' 8", 190 pounds) vs. Jr. FS Cassius Sendish (6' 0", 195 pounds)This match-up is extremely important. The difficulty of tracking a small running back out of the backfield in coverage is extremely unappreciated, and mistakes mean loads of easy yards and big third down conversions. Washington is crafty, quick and has excellent hands out of the backfield. Sendish isn't the fastest guy out there, but he's a sure tackler and the smartest player in the secondary. Jr. WR Bradley Marquez (5’ 11”, 200 pounds) vs. Jr. CB Dexter McDonald (6’ 1”, 200 pounds)On big third downs, I want my best corner on the opposition’s most dangerous receiver. Marquez (17 catches, 269 yards, 15.8 yards per catch and four touchdowns in four games) is a play-maker, but McDonald can pester him near the line of scrimmage, shadow him in the red-zone and is even athletic enough to keep up downfield.It won't work all day, but I’m trusting McDonald to be the secondary’s playmaker in the clutch.Jr. TE Jace Amaro (6’ 5”, 260 pounds) vs. Jr. NB Victor Simmons (6’ 1”, 220 pounds)Simmons is the largest member of the Kansas secondary, but size match-ups aren’t everything. In this case, on third and intermediates, Amaro is generally flexed out in the slot and simply looks to get open beyond the markers. This is the range in which Simmons is at his best, and this match-up keeps him near the box and the intermediate flats where he’s most comfortable.The junior nickelback can’t go toe-to-toe with one of the scariest pass-catchers in the conference for all 15 rounds. However, if he can keep Amaro from bullying safeties, deliver timely hits and make clean tackles, the versatile, athletic nickel would be the ideal damage control to have around the mammoth tight end.
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