Travis Tannahill has developed a knack for making big plays this season.
Kansas State’s senior tight end has just six catches in five games for 110 yards and a touchdown, but in the Wildcats first two Big 12 Conference games, he’s made an impact.
In the Wildcats 24-19 win at Oklahoma, Tannahill made his first catch of the game on a fourth quarter drive with the team leading 17-13. On the first play of the drive, Tannahill made a catch and busted out for a 21-yard gain, attempting to leap over a pair of Oklahoma defenders at the end of the play.
It’s a play Tannahill jokes he has taken too much grief for, and something he has tried not repeating. On his second catch of the drive against Oklahoma, he lowered his shoulder.
Tannahill made a catch in the flat and turned up field on first down, leveling an OU defender into the ground to finish with a 13-yard gain. One play later, running back John Hubert scored the touchdown K-State would need to hold on for the win.
In the Wildcats 56-16 win over Kansas this past weekend, Tannahill made another big play. Tannahill caught a short pass and ran it down the sideline for a 24-yard gain. This time he neither lowered his shoulder or tried to jump, and he regretted it.
Jayhawk safety Bradley McDougald laid a shot on Tannahill, knocking him out of bounds hard and reminding him what he forgot to do. Lower that shoulder.
“The KU guy on the sideline, he might have got me a little bit,” he joked. “I watched the film and I was a little high, I should have lowered the shoulder a little bit more. That one didn’t feel great - I was shaking out the stars.
“I’m not the most fleet-of-foot guy, I don’t really have much — not going to the spin move or jukes. The easiest and the safest way is to lower the shoulder.”
Tannahill would open up the Wildcats 28-point third quarter with a 2-yard touchdown reception, his first of the season, as the Wildcats went on to score in a flurry.
The Wildcats scored 28 points in just 10 offensive plays, and while Tannahill said it was fun, he knows it’s just as important to keep to the K-State offensive philosophy of controlling the clock.
“I’m never ever going to complain about putting points on the board,” he said. “Controlling the ball, keeping our defense off the field, making sure they get rest so when they go out they’re fresh, that’s very important.
“Offensively we’ve been able to move the ball pretty well so far. Even the KU game we only put up 21 points in the first half, but we had a pretty good half offensively in the second half.”
As the Wildcats go into their second road game of the season this Saturday at Iowa State, Tannahill said he’s looking forward to playing against a team that plays closely to the K-State style.
He said he expects a grind-it-out game from both sides, and he expects both teams to line up and hit each other a lot — exactly his style of playing the game.
“It can get really annoying when guys are slanting all over the place, it can get a little frustrating,” he said. “(Iowa State) will just line up and play football the way it should be played, and it will be fun.”
While he might have just six catches this season, Tannahill said he knows there will be opportunities to catch a few more as the season goes along. And he thinks the short pass could become a weapon on third downs.
“Third down we always like sell the run, so when ever you can hit them with a little play action on third and short or third and medium, get the linebackers and safeties to bite, a tight end or fullback or somebody in the flat is going to be there,” he said. “They’ve been able to set it up for the short passes and they’ve been doing a good job of it so far.”