Kansas State at #8 Oklahoma

Oklahoma freshman linebacker Ryan Jones (33) tackles Kansas State running back Alex Barnes (34) during Saturday’s game. Barnes finished with just 28 yards on 13 carries in the Wildcats’ 51-14 loss in Norman, Oklahoma. Barnes enters Saturday’s contest at TCU second in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game at 102.0.

Alex Barnes hit a snag last week.

Two games removed from registering games of 250 and 181 rushing yards, respectively, the Kansas State running back managed just 28 in his team’s 51-14 road loss to No. 8 Oklahoma.

It was conspicious. Barnes, a junior, carried 13 times for an average of a littl more than 2 yards per attempt. His longest rush went for 5 yards, and he didn’t get in the end zone for the first time since K-State’s Sept. 22 loss at West Virginia.

Make no mistake — K-State coach Bill Snyder said he knows. He just doesn’t think Barnes should shoulder all the blame.

“He’s not the only guy on the field,” Snyder said. “There’s a whole bunch of people out there, and they have to block people. If you do that, you’ve got a better chance. If you don’t, you don’t. It’s not Alex, it’s not any one individual. We just didn’t play as effectively as I’d like to think that we’re capable of.”

Barnes’ limited output came against the Big 12’s No. 7 rush defense.

As K-State prepares to visit the league’s No. 6 rush defense in TCU on Saturday, Barnes will look to resurface as the physical, dominant back he looked like in his previous two outings.

It may start with K-State senior right tackle Dalton Risner. He said so himself weeks ago, explaining that the offensive line should shoulder the blame if a running back fails to record the yards he’d like to.

Risner said that was the case against Oklahoma — “What can you do when you’ve got guys on you at the line of scrimmage?” Risner said — but he also suggested his team might consider switching things up against TCU. He noticed the Sooners might have had the Wildcats’ number as a result of the sterling numbers Barnes had been putting up.

“Whenever you have a guy that’s running for over 200 yards two weeks in a row, the team’s going to do something about it. A championship team is going to do something about it,” Risner said. “We knew they were going to do something about it. (Oklahoma) ran an even front against TCU, and came out and ran the exact opposite thing against us, had more movement.”

Yet K-State’s road test against TCU may provide just the chance Barnes needs to get back on track.

Most recently, TCU coach Gary Patterson said on Tuesday that free safety Niko Small and linebacker/defensive end Ty Summers will likely miss Saturday’s game. That’s significant — the two lead the team in career starts.

Plus, the Horned Frogs are in the midst of a three-game skid, which started on Oct. 11 with a loss to Texas Tech and continued last week with a narrow loss at Kansas. The Frogs permitted just 58 rushing yards in the loss to the Jayhawks, but they let the Sooners rack up 323 the week prior.

Of course, so did the Wildcats — the Sooners tallied 322 rushing yards against them — but consider this: Barnes has a knack for bouncing back. The Pittsburg native recorded just 49 rushing yards in that loss to West Virginia, but he turned around and dropped 80 the next week on Texas. Then he torched Baylor for 250 rushing yards.

Maybe that’s why Risner said he’s far from concerned about his running back.

After all, Barnes ranks second in the conference in rushing yards per game for a reason.

“You don’t have to worry about that guy’s confidence,” Risner said. “He’s just fine.”

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