Aug. 30, 2012
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By Mark Janssen
Tom Hayes is at work putting his experiences dating back to the 1970s to good use.
“I’ve been in the business for 40-plus years, and you hope that those experiences, good and bad, will help you in the current job that you’re in,” said Kansas State’s second-year coach and first-year defensive coordinator. “I’ve had an opportunity to be around some great coaches and great players. I hope I’ve learned something.”
But in the end, he hopes to do what Chris Cosh did last year and to do what Phil Bennett, Bob Cope and Bob Stoops did prior to that.
“We’re all built different,” said the 63-year-old Hayes, who has had coaching stops at Iowa, Cal State Fullerton, UCLA, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Kansas, Stanford and Tulane, plus the Redskins and Saints in the NFL. “But we’re all from the same fraternity of making our players play as well as they can possibly play. That’s what all of us try to do.”
In looking at the immediate task at hand, Hayes said the goal prior to the start of Big 12 play in early October would be to create a solid two-deep look on defense, starting by replacing the five starters gone from last year in Ray Kibble at tackle, Emmanuel Lamur at linebacker, Tysyn Hartman at safety, David Garrett at cornerback and Jordan Voelker at end.
That’s been done with John Sua on the line, Justin Tuggle or Jarell Childs at linebacker, Thomas Ferguson at safety, Allen Chapman at cornerback and Meshak Williams at end.
It was after K-State’s Cotton Bowl loss to Arkansas that Hayes said, “We started going through the entire season play by play. We evaluated each play so we could build on what was good and fix what was not so good.”
Now into fall camp, Hayes said of his defensive priorities, “We need to work on developing a quality pass rush. Part of pass coverage is getting that quarterback to speed up and make him throw the ball when he’s not ready to throw it, which can lead to some takeaways.”
While K-State’s rush defense allowed just 131 yards per game, which was fourth in the Big 12, the pass defense allowed 263 yards per game. That number, however, Hayes says was “skewed” because of allowing 520 passing yards to Oklahoma, 502 to Oklahoma State and 461 to Texas Tech.
“Those teams put up numbers like that on a lot of teams,” said Hayes. “Honestly, our defense had some good moments last year, so we don’t want to come in and change a whole lot. We want to continue to play smart, play fast and play tough. There will be no dramatic changes.”
The same “if it ain’t broke” approach applies to Kansas State’s offense featuring the run-pass threat of quarterback Collin Klein.
“We liked what we did last year, but we’d like to put up a few more yards and be more balanced,” said passing game coordinator Del Miller. “We scored well last year, but, at times, without the yardage that we would have liked.”
Defining Miller’s words are these statistics from 2011: K-State’s scoring offense of 31.8 yards ranked seventh in the Big 12, while the total offense of 337 yards per game ranked only ninth.
Examples of how K-State won games with little yardage last year included a 286-yard effort in a 24-17 win over Missouri, a 339-yard effort in a 41-34 win over Texas Tech and a 121-yard outing against Texas in a 17-13 victory.
Part of those numbers came from the fact that K-State led the Big 12 and was fourth in the nation in time of possession, averaging 33:55 minutes per game. In addition, the Wildcats seldom hurt themselves with penalties or turnovers.
As run-game coordinator Dana Dimel said, “If you have the ball and don’t turn it over, it’s hard for the other team to score.”
If there’s an inexperienced spot on offense, it’s with the line that will possibly feature redshirt freshmen Cody Whitehair and Boston Stiverson, plus first-time regular Cornelius Lucas. An injury has slowed Stiverson’s progress this fall, and he will miss the opener Saturday against Missouri State.
To that group, Miller says, “We’re comfortable because they’re really athletic. Yes, they’re young, but they are more athletic than we’ve had in the past.”
On Lucas, a 6-foot-9, 322-pound junior, Dimel said, “It’s just taken him a while to progress. He’s very talented, but just not as consistent as we would like.
“We like that line, but with it being as young as it is, you won’t know until the lights go on,” said Dimel. “That’s when you find out what type of players you have.”
While most in the K-State camp admit to being somewhat surprised by the numbers posted by Klein last year, the Wildcats’ co-coordinators were not.
Dimel said, “The only thing that surprised me was how tough he was. You don’t expect that out of a quarterback. He’s such a leader and so tough that he has that ability to put a team on his shoulders. He fought through injuries because he was a part of so many plays. His intelligence and results didn’t surprise me, but how physical he was did surprise us.”
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