Oct. 6, 2011
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By Mark Janssen
Remember these numbers:
• Rushing defense – 231.4 yards per game, 119th in the nation
• Total defense – 445.7 yards per game, 106th in the nation
• Scoring defense – 29.1 points per game, 78th in the nation
But that was 2010, and this is 2011:
• Rushing defense – 87.5 yards per game, 17th in the nation
• Total Defense – 292 yards per game, 16th in the nation
• Scoring defense – 16.5 points per game, 17th in the nation
True, the beef of K-State’s schedule is yet to come, but coach Bill Snyder is the first to admit that the Wildcat defense is improved over last year.
Snyder said it all started in the spring when “… we were a better football team than we were in the fall.”
Snyder has always maintained that the defense in 2010 wasn’t all bad, but when the defense was decent, the offense stubbed its toe.
“It’s still a team game and one end makes the other better,” said the Wildcat coach. “We were better in the spring, and when we started in the fall and I thought we were making more progress. Gradually, we have become better in different areas.”
In part, it’s due to better team speed, and more team depth, and better team experience, and improved team discipline, and better fundamentals. All, Snyder said, are the “right things” to make a defense better.”
The defensive headliner has been linebacker Arthur Brown with 33 tackles, which includes 4.5 behind the line of scrimmage.
Snyder first talks of Brown being “a quality young person.” He then adds, “I’ve never had any complaints on the way he practices, the way he plays and the way he handles himself. His presence helps us be more successful doing the things we would like to do.”
According to the coach, what Brown does best is “… get to the football. He just has a nose for the football.”
Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh adds of Brown, “He goes from 0 to 60 faster than a Ferrari.”
But while Brown was this week’s Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, Snyder insists that it’s a team game and had lineman Ray Kibble not rushed Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, Brown’s pivotal interception wouldn’t have been possible.
Behind Brown’s 33 tackles are David Garrett with 21, Ty Zimmerman with 19, Emmanuel Lamur with 18, Tre Walker with 17, plus six other Wildcats with at least 10 arrests.
Meshak Williams trails Brown’s 4.5 tackles for a loss with 4.0, while Jordan Voelker and Ray Kibble each have two and seven other ‘Cats have one.
Williams and Voelker each have three quarterback sacks, followed by Brown with two.
Malone leads the team with three interceptions, while Brown, Garrett and Tysyn Hartman each have one. Garrett and Jonathan Turner each have fumble recoveries, while Hartman and Jared Loomis have forced fumbles.
“We had a feeling during fall camp that we were playing a lot harder than we did,” said Hartman. “You watch tape from last year and see how we were moving and the progress that we’ve made is a good feeling.”
While saying the overall defense is better than a year ago, Snyder warns, “It’s too early to judge how much better. I understand that our numbers are better than where we were a year ago at this time, but we still have a ways to go to find out how much better.”
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