Alabama Football: Kansas State Offensive Preview


Alabama football has a formidable Sugar Bowl opponent in the Kansas State Wildcats. The Alabama defense will look to stonewall a Kansas State offense that is heavily run-oriented.

The Wildcats have one of the nation’s better rushing offenses, led by standout running back Deuce Vaughn. Fellow running back DJ Giddens and quarterback Adrian Martinez are also dangerous weapons in the running game.

Vaughn is the key to the Kansas State offense. He has run for 1,425 yards this season and caught 42 passes for 378 yards. The junior has 11 total touchdowns this season, giving him 42 in his career. The Alabama defense will have to key on Vaughn all game, and must tackle in space effectively. It won’t be easy, as Vaughn is difficult to corral and just as tough to get on the ground.

Redshirt freshman DJ Giddens has been more than capable as a backup. Giddens is a bigger back than Vaughn, and provides a change-of-pace for the Wildcats’ running game. He has run for 451 yards and six touchdowns this season.

Senior quarterback Adrian Martinez started for the first half of the season before battling injuries and being replaced by junior Will Howard. Martinez is average as a passer, but is a dynamic runner. He has 615 rushing yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns despite missing several games with injury. He will be healthy for the Sugar Bowl, but it is uncertain how Kansas State will use him. Whether Martinez starts as the full-time quarterback or is deployed as a gadget player, Alabama will have to be ready for him.

If Kansas State chooses to go with Will Howard at quarterback, the Wildcats’ passing game will be much more of a threat. Howard has thrown for 1,423 yards on 8.7 yards per attempt and 15 touchdowns this season. Those are better numbers across the board than what Martinez has posted, despite Martinez attempting more passes.

Will Howard also protects the football, having thrown just two interceptions all year. An Alabama defense that has struggled to generate turnovers this season could have a hard time forcing Howard into mistakes.

Malik Knowles is the top receiver for Kansas State, recording 47 receptions for 719 yards and two touchdowns in 2022. The senior has a penchant for creating big plays in all phases of the game. His seven rushing attempts have gone for 162 yards (23.1 YPC) and three scores. Knowles is also dangerous as a return man, running back three kickoffs for touchdowns in his career.

Fellow senior wide receivers Phillip Brooks and Kade Warner have major roles in the Kansas State offense as well. Both have over 40 receptions, and Warner leads the team with five receiving touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore tight end Ben Sinott gives the K-State quarterbacks a bigger target to look for. Brooks and Sinott are tied for second on the team with four scoring receptions apiece.

The Wildcats have a lot of weapons, and will not be easy for Alabama football to defend. The front seven will have to win the battle in the trenches to disrupt the Kansas State offense. If the Crimson Tide can stop the run and get pressure on the KSU quarterbacks, it could be a long day for a Kansas State offense that prefers not to lean on its passing game.

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The defense for Alabama football has a huge opportunity to make a statement and build momentum heading into the 2023 offseason.

*All stats from