Following two amazing efforts against West Virginia (12 points allowed) and Iowa State (seven), K-State’s defense has been receiving a lot more attention around the region. It’s about time. I maintained over a month ago that the performance against
The easiest way to judge a defense is how many points it allows its opponents to score. In that respect, K-State is 4th in the Big 12, surrendering 22 points per game (a statistic all the more impressive when you consider how many times the Wildcats have turned it over in their opponent’s red zone). They trail Baylor (15.9), Oklahoma (18.8), and Oklahoma State (21.4). Secondly, the Wildcats are also fourth in the league in yards per game allowed at 362.9 – behind Oklahoma, Baylor, and TCU.
Against the pass, K-State has struggled to keep completion percentages down. The Wildcats rank seventh in the conference, allowing opponents to complete 57.0 percent of passes. However, the team isn’t giving up high-yardage passes. Allowing 6.6 yards per attempt, the Wildcats are fifth in the Big 12 here. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as one thing the team has struggled with is quick outs and hitches (as well as pretty much anything thrown to a receiver running across the middle). K-State is fourth in the conference in allowing 217 yards through the air on average.
K-State is similarly successful against the run, which is where the tremendous balance of the team comes in – it may not excel in stopping the pass or run, but is equally adept at both and displays no true weaknesses. The Wildcats are fifth in the conference in rushing yards allowed per contest, and fourth in yards per attempt.
Kansas State is playing the same lockdown, shut down defense as in 2012, but that doesn’t mean the unit has been bad. Following some harsh growing pains, there’s been some extraordinary growth. And for perspective, K-State is putting up these numbers against what is currently the 29th most difficult strength of schedule in the country. For an idea of what the league’s other successful teams are doing, Baylor has played just the 93rd hardest schedule, Oklahoma State the 38th, Texas the 24th, Texas Tech the 67th, and TCU the 17th. So although the Wildcats aren’t at the top of the Big 12, no one is really performing better against a much harder schedule, and most against an even easier slate.
Slowing the scoring of opponents won’t get much easier going forward. Texas Tech is averaging 39.1 points per game, and the Wildcats play them in Lubbock on Saturday. TCU shouldn’t score many points, but then #10 Oklahoma and its 31.0 points per game come to town. However, K-State already demonstrated it’s ready to step up to the plate against Baylor. This is not an elite unit, but it’s one good enough to win games even if the offense has a difficult time finishing drives. I think we’ll see that against Tech this weekend.