SE: Bend But Don’t Break: A Look at the K-State Defense

September 18, 2015
By Kelly McHugh-Stewart
   
If the K-State defense has been challenged this year, the group hasn’t shown it.
  
In eight quarters of football, the Wildcats have given up just three points… Just one single field goal – and a 51-yarder at that – and they hope to continue that success this weekend. 
  
“We’re a bend but don’t break defense,” said senior defensive tackle Travis Britz. “We have an attitude that we’re not going to let you score, especially in the red zone. We practice it all week, we understand that we’re going to beat our opponent (in the red zone). We may let them get that far, but we’re not going to let them get any further.”
  
The Wildcat defense has been impressive, to say the least. 
  
K-State leads the Big 12 in red zone defense and is one of just four teams in the nation (Duke, Illinois and Appalachian State) to not surrender a touchdown. The Wildcats are second in the Big 12 in total defense (16th in the nation) and are holding opponents to an average of 247.5 total offensive yards per game. 
  
While the Cats are a close second in total defense to Oklahoma (allowing an average of 240 yards per game), the Sooners have allowed three touchdowns per game. How many touchdowns has K-State given up overall?
  
You guessed it, none. 
  
While K-State is off to a stellar start, this group of defenders says the best is yet to come. 
  
“I feel confident, but we still have a lot of season left,” continued Britz when asked about the team’s solid start to the season. “We still have room to grow, we still have more challenges to face, so we just have to take each week one step at a time.”
  
Added sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee, “We’re being physical. Everybody talks about us being young, and they don’t know how we’re going to handle it, but I think the first two games we’ve handled things pretty well. We’re just going to build on those two games we should continue to do well.”
  
A balanced group, senior Will Davis is leading the team in tackles with 12 followed closely by junior Donnie Starks with 10 and sophomore Kaleb Prewett with nine. Senior Morgan Burns leads the team with two passes broken up, while Britz and senior Marquel Bryant lead the team with two sacks apiece. 
  
“I am pleased with the progress that we have made and how well we are playing,” said K-State head coach Bill Snyder. “I think there is still a lot out there, I would say. Also, it gets tougher, tougher and tougher now. (Louisiana Tech) is a team that has over 1,100 yards of total offense in two games, and they can throw it in. We are getting into more complex times now. I think before we pass judgment, we want to see how we play right now. But up to this point in time, I am happy about them.”
  
But, like Snyder said, this weekend’s matchup with the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs poses the most daunting task of the non-conference schedule for the defense.
  
After defeating UTSA, 30-3, last weekend in San Antonio, Texas, K-State returns to Bill Snyder Family Stadium tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m., to host the Bulldogs. 
  
Louisiana Tech enters tomorrow’s matchup with a plethora of talent on offense. Led by senior quarterback Jeff Driskel, Louisiana Tech ranks 10th in the nation in total offense, averaging 583.5 yards per game. A transfer from Florida, Driskel recorded a 321.44 passing efficiency in the season opener against Southern – the best single-game mark in the nation this season – and is averaging 315 passing yards per game, completing 40-of-63 passes with one interception and two touchdowns. 
  
While Driskel will be a threat in the air, senior running back Kenneth Dixon will be a challenge on the ground. The school record holder in career rushing yards with 3,684, Dixon is averaging 137 yards per game on the ground this season, including an 8.8-yard-per-carry average. 
  
“They are definitely (the best offense we’ve seen),” said Davis, who led K-State with nine tackles in its win over UTSA last weekend. “They have talent all around the ball. Their quarterback, he can do special things with his arm, and he’s fast too. The running back is a really special player; he can do a lot of things. It’s going to be a challenge for us.”
  
A talented offense taking on a talented defense, there is no doubt tomorrow’s game will be an exciting one.
  
A FOX Sports Net-televised matchup, tomorrow’s game will be shown across the nation with Brendan Burke (play-by-play), former Wildcat great Ben Leber (analyst) and Christian Steckel (sideline) on the call.
  
The game can also be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sideline) on the call, while the game will be on Sirius channel 118, XM channel 202. Live stats are available at the new k-statesports.com, while Twitter updates (@kstatesports and @kstate_gameday) will all be part of the coverage.For more information on tomorrow’s game, please click here
   
Also see:
K-STATE LAUNCHES NEW CONNECTIVITY NETWORK AT BSFS
Fans attending Wildcat football games at Bill Snyder Family Stadium will benefit from a new connectivity network as K-State Athletics has partnered with leading companies Boingo Wireless on a new Distributed Antenna System (DAS) and Aruba Networks on a new Wi-Fi network for improved wireless service.
  
As part of its commitment to the Best Fan Experience in the Big 12, the new improvements were in place for the 2015 season opener for South Dakota, and all preliminary testing and results brought rave reviews from the sold-out crowd, the 21st-consecutive sellout at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
  
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