Continuing our march to kick-off against North Dakota State, today we are 72 days from football, with our daily tie-in being the number of cumulative points K-State allowed in the fourth quarter last year. And yes, 72 points is significant, as it tells a story of defensive depth that went completely unreported (or at least underreported) both in 2012 and in previews of 2013.
For some perspective, here are the points scored by quarter last year:
There’s not much separation in the first quarter, as K-State was playing its opponents just about even with a 12-point differential (average of one point per game). The second quarter saw the defense allow the most ponts in 72, although the high offensive output still provided a 58-point differential. The third quarter jumps to 67 before exploding in the fourth with 80. And while the offense should be commended for its output, equally impressive is the low number of 72 allowed by the defense.
More points are scored in the final quarter of games than the first. Not always, but if someone offers you the bet, take it. Teams are more tired, and it only takes one missed assignment by one defender for a three yard run to turn into a fifty yard dash to the end zone. Importantly, K-State’s running game placed a premium on controlling the clock and wearing down opponents all 60 minutes. However, the defense’s consistency was impressive. It yielded an average of exactly 72 points each quarter – the same total as it allowed in the fourth.
There’s an underlying sliver of silver here that not many people are talking about – K-State’s depth last year. It’s true that Ty Zimmerman is the only starter returning on defense (not counting Tre Walker), but the Wildcats had competent back ups that could sub in and provide the first string players a rest if necessary. The first name that comes to mind is Ryan Mueller (pictured above). The defensive end has played in 13 games each of the past two years and provided 14 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, and six passes defended in 2013. In the secondary was Carl Miles, a senior defensive back that played in 12 games last year while provided three tackles and a forced fumble.
In addition, Tre Walker will be returning to man the linebacker position. Blake Slaughter should start at middle linebacker after taking a redshirt last year to make way for Arthur Brown. He played in 12 games in 2011 as a junior and started four games as a sophomore in 2010 with 13 tackles against UCF and ten against Texas.
This list of names won’t replace the tremendous list of names exiting Manhattan this year, but it’s the other side of a story the media doesn’t tell very well. K-State retains most of the back ups from 2012 that kept the first team fresh and will field a team of players with some degree of playing time in 2013. Will it be an uphill battle to get them ready for a Big 12 season that opens with a trip to Austin? Absolutely. But between the returning players and key JUCO recruits, there’s more optimism for this team’s prospects than most seem to be willing acknowledge.
To continue working backwards in our countdown, visit Day 73, where we preview a player with the potential to play at the next level in Tavon Rooks.