2011 Kansas State Preview - Defense
Kansas State S Tysyn Hartman
Kansas State S Tysyn Hartman
Posted Jun 30, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - Kansas State Wildcat Defense

Kansas State Wildcats

Preview 2011 - Defense

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What You Need To Know: The defense fell off a cliff under defensive coordinator Chris Cosh's watch, and now the pressure is on to produce. The run defense was the second worst in America, the overall D finished 11th in the Big 12, and things got worse as the season went on. Now there's no excuse to not be far better with one of the nation's better safety tandems in Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman to work around, an improved linebacking corps helped by the addition of Miami transfer Arthur Brown, and with both starting tackles returning. There's plenty of returning experience with seven starters coming back to work with all the JUCO transfers who know what they're doing. Finding a pass rush would be nice, stopping the run would be better, and being more consistent is a must.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: David Garnett, 92
Sacks: David Garnett, 3
Interceptions: Ty Zimmerman, 3

Star of the defense: Junior LB Arthur Brown
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DT Ray Kibble
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore LB Tre Walker
Best pro prospect: Brown
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brown, 2) S Tysyn Hartman, 3) S Ty Zimmerman
Strength of the defense: Safety, Experience
Weakness of the defense: Run Defense, Proven Pass Rusher

Defensive Line

State of the Unit: The defensive front had a rough season. It didn't get into the backfield, there wasn't a steady pass rushing presence, and the run defense was the second-worst in college football. Nothing worked. Three starters are back, there's good size, and there's enough experience to hope for a better year, but it's going to take a lot of work and a lot of improvement to get back to where Bill Snyder was hoping things would be.

Back at one end is junior Brandon Harold, a 6-5, 264-pound junior who started over the first half of last season before getting pushed into a reserve role. He has good size and plenty of experience, but he hasn't quite built on his great 2008 season – making 45 tackles with three sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss – suffering a bad knee injury in 2009 and coming back to make 41 stops with two sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss last season. Now he needs to be more consistent, while 6-0, 254-pound junior Adam Davis will try to do more after bulking up over the last year after getting hurt. The former JUCO All-American suffered a slipped disc in his back and wasn't able to get on the field, but when he was right, he was a speedster from the outside who made 23 sacks for Hutchinson CC.

6-2, 231-pound junior Meshak Williams spent last year at Hutchinson and was a big recruit after making 17 tackles for loss with 44 tackles. A pure pass rusher, he's expected to step in at one end job and immediately become a disruptive force, while 6-3, 240-pound senior Jordan Voelker will try to earn a starting spot at one of the end jobs after spending last season as a little-used reserve. The former walk-on from the JUCO ranks made eight tackles in five games, and while he's not a high end pass rushing prospect, he has a great motor.

Needing to play bigger on the inside is 6-4, 305-pound senior Ray Kibble, a strong former JUCO transfer who was one of the team's top recruits last year. A good interior pass rusher for Navarro Junior College, he was expected to be a factor in the backfield right away last season. He started nine times on the inside and made 30 tackles, but he only came up with a disappointing half a sack. It took him a while, but he started to play better by the end of the year. Backing him up will be 6-2, 300-pound junior Javonta Boyd who redshirted last year after coming in from Butler CC. A great athlete for the inside, he's expected to do big things now that he's getting his chance.

6-4, 290-pound senior Raphael Guidry started eight games last season moving back and forth between the tackle sots making 36 tackles with 2.5 sacks. After hitting the weights, he bulked up into a Big 12-sized tackle who should be able to hold up better against the run. Not considered a pass rusher, he still has the ability to get into the backfield once in a while. 6-5, 264-pound senior Payton Kirk can work inside or out, seeing time in every game and starting against Syracuse in the bowl loss. He didn't crank out the big numbers with just four tackles, and now he'll mostly work on the interior to try to get more pressure from a tackle spot.

Watch Out For … Williams. He might be the one new starter to the mix, but the hope is that he becomes the catalyst for the pass rush that struggled to do much of anything. The former JUCO transfer is small, but he's quick.
Strength: Experience. Partly because of the time spent in the JUCO ranks, to go along with the first year of service last year, the line has been around the block. This might not be the most talented front four, but it should know what it's doing.
Weakness: Run defense. The pass rushing woes would be a bigger issue if the run defense wasn't a glaring disaster. The Wildcats gave up 3,008 rushing yards and allowed 5.9 yards per carry. There's no excuse for this front four to be so bad again.
Outlook: The hope was for the infusion of JUCO stars to translate into production up front last year – it didn't happen. There are plenty of active players who should be able to get into the backfield, but more importantly, the tackles have to start holding their ground against the run while the ends have to start contributing more.
Unit Rating: 6


State of the Unit: The linebacking corps was supposed to be a problem going into last year, and it was worse than expected. Three of the team's top four tacklers were defensive backs, and that's not a positive. The linebackers have to be more active and make more stops against the run. With a few new starters in the mix to go along with the established veterans, the results should be better.

The hope for an instant improvement comes with Arthur Brown, a Wichita native who started out his career at Miami, making 15 tackles in two seasons before transferring back close to home. The 6-1, 223-pounder isn't huge for the middle job, but he's fast, fast, fast. All over the place this off-season, he was the star of the early practices making 14 stops in the spring game and taking on the leadership role for the front seven; at least he did on the field. A quiet player, he's not going to do a bunch of woofing and hollering, but he should be able to get the job done and be one of the team's leading tacklers. He'll be backed up by 5-10, 227-pound junior Blake Slaughter, a tough, pounding player who plays bigger than his size. He started four games, including the final two games of the regular season,

Former safety Emmanuel Lamur moved over to linebacker last year in an attempt to use his athleticism and speed to become a disruptive force. The 6-4, 219-pound senior finished the season with 46 tackles, two sacks, and an interception, getting four games of starting work, but he can do far more. The physical veteran made 68 tackles in 2009 with three picks, and now he'll work in a variety of ways. Also in the equation on the weakside, and possible on the strongside, is Alex Hrebec, a 5-11, 240-pound defender who slimmed down a bit, got a little faster, and now the former walk-on should be a little bit more of a playmaker. Smart and tough, he finished third on the team with 77 tackles with ten broken up passes, and now he'll work in a variety of spots.

If it's not Hrebec on the outside, it'll be 6-3, 213-pound sophomore Tre Walker, a nice-looking prospect who saw time in every game and started a few games as a true freshman finishing with 47 tackles with a sack, a pick, and two tackles for loss. He's a safety-sized, rangy playmaker who turned into a stud over the final few games of last season, and now he's expected to do even more on the strongside. Also trying to get back in the mix is 6-2, 217-pound junior Jarell Childs, a proven veteran who can play inside or out. A seven-game starter, he made 53 tackles with a tackle for loss and a broken up pass highlighted by a 15-stop game against Kansas. The former running back is shifty and athletic with lineman strength.

Watch Out For … Brown. He didn't exactly blow up at Miami, but now he's stronger, physically mature, and in the perfect situation. He has the athleticism and the talent to be a major statistical star in the middle, and he has the potential to be an All-Big 12 performer if everything breaks right.
Strength: Options. Last year the defense worked in a 4-2-5 more than a 4-3, but this season another linebacker will likely be used to do more against the run. The Wildcats have the options. With Brown in the mix to go along with Hrebec, Walker, Lamur, and others, the linebacking corps has good players to work in a rotation.
Weakness: Run defense. The tackle numbers have been decent, but there haven't been enough of them. Being more physical is a big, big need to help one of the nation's worst run defenses, and the hope is for Brown to make the difference.
Outlook: The linebacking corps was a ragtag bunch last season that never seemed able to produce like it needed to. That should change this year. The returning experience was already good enough to hope for a better year, and now there's Brown who should bring it all together. Depending on the type of defense the Wildcats run, there should be a terrific starting threesome to count on.
Unit Rating: 7

Defensive Backs

State of the Unit: The pass defense wasn't all that bad considering the high-octane passing games to deal with in the Big 12. The stats were helped because the run defense gave up so many big yards in chunks, but the secondary also did its job at times. KSU might have the Big 12's best safety tandem, gets back a strong starting corner, and welcomes in a key JUCO transfer to complete the puzzle.

5-8, 175-pound senior corner David Garrett isn't big and he's not all that strong, but the former JUCO transfer stepped in from Fort Scott CC and led the team in tackles with 92 stops, three sacks, a pick, nine broken up passes, and 15 tackles for loss in an Honorable Mention All-Big 12 season. A peerless open field tackler, he's better against the run than as a shutdown corner but is a terrific player to work around. He'll be backed up by 6-0, 190-pound senior Matthew Pearson, who came over from Hutchinson CC and saw time in every game. He only made two tackles and got in most of his work on special teams, but he has the size and the ability to be a much bigger factor, literally, in place of Garrett.

Stepping into the opening on the other side is JUCO transfer Nigel Malone, a 5-10, 176-pound ready-made coverman from City College of San Francisco who made 25 tackles and three picks with nine broken up passes last year at the lower level. Very quick and with a nose for getting around the ball, he should be a statistical star, while 5-11, 180-pound transfer Allen Chapman will also be in the equation. He has speed and cutting ability to work in a variety of spots.

Senior Tysyn Hartman turned in a terrific season both in the classroom and on the field making 86 tackles with two picks while also earning Academic All-Big 12 honors. He originally came to Manhattan as a quarterback but quickly became a leader in the defensive backfield. At 6-3 and 206 pounds he's big, athletic, and strong enough to work at strong safety if he doesn't work at free safety again. A good hitter with great range, he's always around the ball. Now he has to do more against the pass. Also seeing time at free safety is Tanner Burns, a 6-1, 187-pound junior who starred at San Jose State making 96 tackles in 2009 with two picks. Very smart and a great baller, he's more than good enough to see a starting spot at one of the safety jobs or as a nickel back.

Sophomore Ty Zimmerman came up with a terrific first season making 74 tackles with a team-leading three picks and four tackles for loss. The 6-1, 202-pounder waited for his turn after spending a year as a grayshirt, and then the former quarterback showed he was ready for the secondary and looked like a natural. A terrific athlete, he had some huge moments with 12 tackles against Oklahoma State to highlight a Second Team All-Big 12 season. He'll likely start at strong safety, but he could work at free safety. 6-0, 185-pound senior Logan Dold is a former running back who moved over to the defensive backfield last year finishing with seven tackles. Mostly a special teamer last season, he's shifty enough and athletic enough to be a bigger part of the defense.

Watch Out For … Malone. The other three spots are set, but the Wildcats need a steady corner who can do more against the pass. Garrett is fine on one side, but Malone could be a better lock-down defender.
Strength: Safety. Hartman and Zimmerman might not have NFL skills and prototype talent, but they're big, smart, and they can play. These two are always making things happen and they should combine for well over 150 tackles and six picks. They might not have to do as much as they did in the past thanks to an improved front seven, but they'll still be fantastic.
Weakness: Good passing teams. The overall stats might not seem that bad, but they're misleading. The secondary struggled in the second half of the season giving up 200 yards or more in seven of the last eight games with Baylor bombing away for 404 yards and Colorado rolling up four scoring passes. More interceptions would be nice with nine of the 13 coming in three games.
Outlook: The hope was for the Wildcat secondary to take a big step forward last season, and while there were several rocky parts, there was an improvement. Now the defensive backfield has the potential to be outstanding with Hartman and Zimmerman a strong safety tandem, Burns a terrific backup, and with Garnett one of the nation's best-tackling corners.
Unit Rating: 7

Special Teams

State of the Unit: Josh Cherry had a nice year connecting on 7-of-9 field goals and showing off decent range with a 48 yarder against Nebraska. Now it'll be up to junior Anthony Cantele to take over after spending last year as a booming kickoff specialist and hitting one of two field goal attempts. The former soccer player from Missouri State has to prove he can be consistent.

The punting game was 11th best in the nation as junior Ryan Doerr bombed away averaging 41.3 yards per kick while forcing a whopping 35 fair catches. Accurate, he put 17 inside the 20 and only put it in the end zone twice. He might not have a booming leg, but the one-time superstar recruit is great at hanging it up in the air for an hour.

As always, the kickoff return game was special averaging 24.9 yards per try, but William Powell and Aubrey Quarles are gone. Running back John Hubert got in some work and averaged 19.1 yards per try, but several other options will try to pick up the slack. Receiver Tramaine Thompson did a decent job on punt returns averaging 7.4 yards per try, while safety Tysyn Hartman was great on his four tries averaging 10.2 yards per attempt

Watch Out For … Doerr to get more respect. He didn't have the monster boots that gets everyone interested, but he came up with a season worthy of All-Big 12 honors with his ability to hang it up in the air. Now he needs to be in the All-America spotlight.
Strength: Kickoff returns. KSU finished sixth in the nation in kickoff returns with Brandon Banks coming up with a huge year. He left, and Powell and Quarles helped the Wildcats finish 11th in the nation. Newcomers are taking over the spot, but the production should keep on rolling. It's the program and the talent.
Weakness: Field goals. Cherry was fine last season, and Cantele should be decent, but the team simply didn't do much with the kicking game. KSU hit one of its mere three attempts over the final seven games.
Outlook: Special teams are always a big deal at Kansas State, and there's no reason to expect anything less than another great season even with new returners and a shaky placekicking situation. The coverage teams should be great, the kickoff returns will eventually be excellent, and Doerr and the punting game will be fantastic.
Unit Rating: 7.5

- 2011 Kansas State Preview | 2011 Kansas State Offense
- 2011 Kansas State Defense | 2011 Kansas State Depth Chart
- Kansas State Previews 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006