2012 Kansas State Preview - Defense
Kansas State CB Nigel Malone
2012 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - Kansas State Wildcat Defense
Preview 2012 - Defense
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What You Need To Know:
The defense got a huge help from an offense that hung on to the ball and controlled the clock. Now the Wildcat D has to do its part a bit more after an inconsistent season. The good Big 12 passing teams bombed away, and when teams wanted to commit to the ground game, they succeeded. However, the production should be better with Arthur Brown and Tre Walker leading a veteran linebacking corps, and the secondary should be fantastic with corner Nigel Malone and safety Ty Zimmerman among the best in the conference. The line has to do more to get into the backfield, and it should with Meshak Williams and Adam Davis two strong veterans who know what they're doing. The tackles have to be better, but at the very least there should be a good rotation.
Star of the defense: Senior LB Arthur Brown
Tackles: Arthur Brown, 101
Sacks: Meshak Williams, 7
Interceptions: Nigel Malone, 7
Player who has to step up and be a star: Senior DT Vai Lutui
Unsung star on the rise: Senior CB Allen Chapman
Best pro prospect: Brown
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Brown, 2) CB Nigel Malone, 3) S Ty Zimmerman
Strength of the defense: Back Seven, Ball Control Offense
Weakness of the defense: Steady Pass Rush, Good Passing Teams
The defensive front didn't generate enough of a pass rush, but the run defense was terrific. There's a little work to be done on the inside, former JUCO transfer Vai Lutui paid off right away last season starting the first 11 games and finishing with 34 tackles with a sack and four broken up passes. At 6-2 and 289 pounds he's not all that big, but he's extremely strong and very, very active. The senior will push for time at one tackle job, but he'll rotate with 6-7, 281-pound junior Darryl Blackmon, a transfer from City College of San Francisco with tremendous height, size and upside as a 3-4 end or as a quick tackle.
6-0, 290-pound senior John Sua is a bit of a bowling ball at 6-0, 290 pounds, and now he'll get his chance to shone in the inside after making four tackles in a limited role. The Allan Hancock College transfer is an interior pass rusher who's extremely active and quick off the ball, while 6-2, 294-pound senior Javonta Boyd out of Butler CC is a big body who made three tackles in his little playing time. A great athlete, he wasn't able to show off much last season, but he'll get his chances at both tackle spot.
Ready to rip it up again at one end is 6-3, 245-pound senior Meshak Williams, the team's leading pass rusher earning honorable mention All-Big 12 honors after making 29 tackles with seven sacks and ten tackles for loss. A great recruit for the program out of Hutchinson CC, he showed what he could do right away as a pure pass rusher and a disruptive force. He'll be backed up by sophomore Ryan Mueller, a try-hard walk-on who at 6-1 and 245 pounds is built like a linebacker but is always working. In his limited time he made three tackles with a fumble recovery and half a sack.
With all the attention paid to Williams on one side, 6-0, 259-pound senior Adam Davis has to be more of a playmaker on the other side after stepping in right away and starting all 13 games making 34 tackles with four sacks and eight tackles for loss. He bulked up since coming in from Hutchinson CC, where he was a JUCO All-American, and he has to hold up again after suffering a slipped disc in his back. A speedster, he should be terrific again when turned loose. Backing him up will be 6-2, 257-pound sophomore Laton Dowling, a special teamer and part-time backup. A good recruit, he's a great athlete who'll eventually take over a starting job.
On the way is 6-1, 299-pound JUCO transfer Wesley Hollingshead, a top recruit who's expected to hold up on the inside. While he's quick enough to be a pass rusher – and was a dominant high school star when it came to getting into the backfield – his real worth will be as part of the rotation at both tackle jobs.
Watch Out For … Davis. Williams is the star pass rusher of the show and he'll be the one defensive coordinators fear the most, but Davis looked like a player who was just starting to scratch the surface and has tremendous upside. Now that he knows what he's doing, six-plus sacks will be possible.
Strength: Activity. No, the Wildcats didn't get to the quarterback enough and they didn't make enough plays behind the line, but all four spots have quickness and the potential to be disruptive. Even if the linemen don't get into the backfield, they're able to get to the ball.
Weakness: Consistent pass rush. The Wildcats fame up with 15 sacks in the first seven games, and then everything went silent with three straight games without a sack. Not surprisingly, the KSU secondary was lit up by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. There were six games with no more than one sack.
Outlook: The line was going to be a big concern going into last season but it quickly became solid. It might not have been a rock against the run and it might have struggled late in the year, but there will be a good rotation and everyone should stay fresh. Last season was a big step forward, and now the front four should start to grow into more of a strength with a little more time.
Unit Rating: 6.5
The hope was for Arthur Brown to take over a starting role and dominate after sitting out, and he more than delivered. The former Miami transfer led the team with 101 tackles with two sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss living up to all the hype and expectations while earning first team All-Big 12 honors. At 6-1 and 228 pounds he's not all that big, but he's a guided missile when he locks onto the ball carrier. Extremely fast, he has unlimited range and is terrific in space. While he can be wiped away by a good block, he's always working to get in on the play. A quiet player, he's not going to do a bunch of woofing and hollering, but he gets the job done and once again will be one of the team's leading tacklers.
6-3, 225-pound sophomore Tre Walker took over a job on the outside starting 11 times and making 52 tackles with three tackles for loss. More than anything else he'll be known for making the big stop to save the game against Miami. While Brown lets his play do the talking, Walker lets Walker do the talking and isn't afraid to rile up the troops. He bulked up a bit and now isn't just a safety-sized defender at linebacker, he's a real, live big-play performer with great range and big hitting ability.
6-2, 230-pound senior Jarell Childs started out his career as a running back before turning into a solid backup linebacker. After coming up with 53 tackles two years ago, his workload fell off the map making just 11 tackles. With great quickness and good experience, he should do far more now that he's being given more of a shot. He'll combine with 6-3, 233-pound senior Justin Tuggle, a former quarterback who moved over late in the season. A top-ranked JUCO transfer as a dual threat playmaker, the writing was on the wall with Collin Klein being Collin Klein and now he's going to try to use his size and athleticism on the defensive side.
5-10, 227-pound senior Blake Slaughter made 47 tackles two years ago, but he was a bit out of the mix last year making a mere two tackles playing mostly on special teams. He's a tough hitter who plays bigger than his size, while 6-1, 213-pound true freshman Mike Moore is a ready-made option for the outside with good speed and athleticism. While he'll get a look in the middle with his great range and athleticism, he'll immediately be a part of the rotation.
Watch Out For … The return of Childs. With good size and nice experience, he might not lead the team in tackles but he could get back over the 50-stop mark again. With his quickness and athleticism he'll always be around the ball.
Strength: Experience. Brown will be on everyone's All-America short list, while Walker is a proven veteran with the ability and potential to be a Big 12 all-star. There are worse options than to have experiences players like Childs and Slaughter waiting in the winds to start doing more.
Weakness: Real running teams. When going against the teams that committed to the running game, the Wildcats struggled. Iowa State managed to crank out 215 rushing yards and Texas A&M rolled for 272 yards and three touchdowns. The overall stats were a bit misleading. The smallish linebackers were able to hold up because they weren't on the field all that often.
Outlook: The line might be considered to be a little bit of a question mark, but it will probably be a bit better. With the improvement up front should come a huge year from the linebacking corps loaded with athleticism and experience. Brown is a star to work around and Walker is a good running mate who'll put up big numbers. The gaps will be filled in around them.
Unit Rating: 7.5
The numbers might not have been that great, but the secondary wasn't that bad in the realm of the rest of the Big 12. Senior Nigel Malone quickly turned into the star playmaker among a group of good defensive backs finishing with seven picks, ten tackles and 58 tackles at one corner spot. The 5-10, 185-pound transfer from City College of San Francisco earned All-Big 12 honors and got on the All-America radar going into this year. A great tackler for his size, he's terrific at tracking down the ball and making quarterbacks play for hanging it up. Extremely quick, he's always around the ball.
As good as Malone was, David Garrett might have been even better on the other side finishing second on the team with 88 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and two picks. He's gone, but 5-11, 180-pound senior Allen Chapman appears to be more than ready to take on a bigger role after making 50 tackles with a pick and four broken up passes. At 5-11 and 180 pounds he has good size, great speed, and after starting out at City College of San Francisco, plenty of experience. He led the team with 11 tackles against Texas Tech and came up with a pick six against Oklahoma State. There will be more stats and more big things with teams staying away from Malone on the other side.
While the corners have become the glamour players in the secondary, 6-1, 203-pound junior Ty Zimmerman is a great all-around defender who made 58 tackles with two picks and five broken up passes. Big, athletic and with a nose for the ball, the former quarterback is a smart leader for the defensive backfield and always seeming to be around the ball. Able to work at either safety spot, he should do even more this year against the run after coming up with 74 tackles in 2010.
Taking over the other safety job with Tysyn Hartman gone is senior Thomas Ferguson a tough defender who only came up with six tackles but is a compact 6-0 and 202 pounds with the ability to come up with a wallop. Mostly a special teamer since signing on as a corner, he has the range to go along with his hitting skills. Now it's his time to step in and shine, but he'll have to battle for time with 6-2, 195-pound senior Jarard Milo, a faster option who walked on to the team from Butler CC and made eight tackles. He's a good enough athlete to possibly shine as a good nickel and dime defender. Sophomore Randall Evans was another walk-on making 11 tackles in his first year. A good special teamer, he'll also see time at both safety spots.
Watch Out For … Chapman. Garrett was a great hitter and all-around stat-sheet filler, but Chapman should more than hold his own as his own corner. He should be even more of a big play performer and he should do even more when the ball is in the air.
Strength: Tackling. The Wildcats can hit at all four spots. The corners are physical and the safeties are like smaller linebackers. They're great at holding their own as the last line of defense, and they don't miss many plays in the open field.
Weakness: Yards allowed. It's a function of playing in the Big 12, but still, the secondary was roasted way, way too often. Robert Griffin threw five scoring passes, Ryan Tannehill threw for three scores, and in a brutal two game stretch against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, KSU gave up 1,022 yards and nine touchdowns.
Outlook: The overall numbers might not be pretty, but the secondary is opportunistic and should be loaded with all-stars. Malone is a lock for All-Big Ten honors, while Zimmerman is growing into one of the Big 12's best safeties. Chapman is about to grow into a star on the other side of Malone. Now it all needs to come together to be more consistent and do more against the better passing teams.
Unit Rating: 7
Senior Anthony Cantele was a booming kickoff specialist but showed he could do more last season nailing 17-of-23 field goals. He bombed away from 54 yards out against Oklahoma and connected on three of his six tries from 40-to-40 yards, but he missed a few chip shots along the way. Even so, he connected on seven of his last eight field goals after missing a 25-yarfer against OU.
The punting game was okay yardage-wise with senior Ryan Doerr averaging 40.8 yards per kick, but his real talent was hanging the ball a mile up in the air forcing a whopping 32 fair catches while putting 14 kicks inside the 20.
Sophomore receiver Tyler Lockett had a huge season as a kickoff returner averaging 35.2 yards per try with two touchdowns, and he wasn't miserable on punt returns averaging 6.3 yards per attempt> however fellow receiver Tramaine Thompson was a stronger punt returner averaging 12.3 yards per try.
Watch Out For … Doerr to be up past 41 yards per kick. Among the best in the nation at forcing fair catches over the last two seasons with 67, he has been around long enough to add a bit more blast. If he can get over 42 yards per kick he might be an All-Big 12 performer.
Strength: The return game. With Lockett expected to be back and healthy, he'll shine as the top kickoff return option while Thompson can focus more on punt returns. Ty Zimmerman will be involved, too.
Weakness: Punt coverage. Considering how many punts Doerr hung up in the air, the punt coverage team should've been stronger after allowing 10.1 yards per try with a score.
Outlook: If Cantele can be just a wee bit better the special teams will be among the best in the nation. Doerr is a steady veteran and the return game is explosive. Cantele will be more than fine.
Unit Rating: 8.5
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2012 Kansas State Defense |
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