2013 Kansas State Preview - Defense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted May 21, 2013


2013 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - Kansas State Wildcat Defense


Kansas State Wildcats

Preview 2013 - Defense


- 2013 Kansas State Preview | 2013 Kansas State Offense
- 2013 Kansas State Defense | 2013 Kansas State Depth Chart

What You Need To Know: Defensive coordinator Tom Hayes has lots and LOTS of work to do. Kansas State is used to having to replace lots of talents and starters, but this is ridiculous. The entire front seven has to be replaced after doing a fantastic job against the run and getting to the quarterback on a regular basis, and finding a new leader to take over for linebacker Arthur Brown will be next to impossible. The secondary that struggled against the better Big 12 passing teams has to replace Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman, but has two nice veterans in Ty Zimmerman and Randall Evans to work around. Forget about any developed depth, and the talent level is taking a huge dip, but the Wildcats always seem to make big things happen defensively out of the blue.

Returning Leaders
Tackles: Randall Evans, 76
Sacks: Ryan Mueller, 2
Interceptions: Ty Zimmerman, 5

Star of the defense: Senior S Ty Zimmerman
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior DE Ryan Mueller
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore DT Travis Britz
Best pro prospect: Zimmerman
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Zimmerman, 2) LB Tre Walker, 3) Britz
Strength of the defense: Ball Control Offense, Safeties
Weakness of the defense: Experience, Pass Defense

Defensive Line

The defensive line might have to replace all four starters, but there’s a good base to work around in sophomore tackle Travis Britz, a 6-4, 293-pound only made six tackles as a true freshman, but he made two plays behind the line. A potential mauler, he’s extremely strong and should be able to hold up well against the run. Also in the rotation will be redshirt freshman Demontre Hood, who at 6-0 and 303 pounds has the right body type to be great at getting under the pads and stuffing things up inside.

6-3, 309-pound senior Chanquil Reed came in from the JUCO ranks and served as a backup making just one tackle in his four appearances, he’s athletic for his size and has the potential to be a dominant force. Providing more size inside is sophomore Xavier Gates, a 6-3, 316-pound big body from Pennsylvania who could be moved to the offensive side if absolutely needed. 6-3, 289-pound redshirt freshman Matt Seiwert is another promising tackle with more quickness and athleticism than the rest of the interior options.

Sophomore Ryan Mueller is a try-hard, high-motor walk-on who turned in a nice year in the rotation making 14 tackles with two sacks. At 6-2 and 245 pounds he’s built like a big linebacker, but he has the fight to get behind the line once in a while. He’ll have to fight off senior Alauna Finau, a JUCO transfer who was a decent athlete and pass rusher for Cerritos College, but he didn’t do much in his first season making seven tackles as a reserve.

6-3, 241-pound sophomore Marquel Bryant has the tools and talent to be the team’s top pass rusher. Quick, he has the burst needed to get behind the line, but he needs time after making just three tackles in his limited action. 6-3, 254-pound junior Laton Dowling was a special teamer last season, but the one-time star recruit is still growing into the end job.

Watch Out For … Taner Wood. The team’s best recruit, the Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year is going to be a star with 6-5, 235-pound size and phenomenal athleticism. He could end up working as an outside linebacker in sort of a tweener role, but he has the frame to pack on at least 15 pounds of good muscle and become a whale of a defensive lineman.
Strength: Motor. Kansas State defensive linemen never, ever dog it, and this group of try-hards won’t stop working to make things happen behind the line. The tackle combination of Britz and Reed could be terrific right away.
Weakness: Proven playmakers. All four starters are gone off of one of the Big 12’s best defensive fronts, and while there might not have been too many superstars, it’s going to sting to lose the pass rushing talents of Adam Davis and the big run stuffers inside.
Outlook: It’s going to take an adjustment period. The new linemen held their own this offseason against the great Wildcat offensive line, and while there might not be too much sizzle at each spot, there are plenty of good, big prospects ready to show what they can do.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Linebackers

Gone is heart-and-soul leader Arthur Brown, but there’s a good one coming back in senior Tre Walker, a spot starter who got banged up and only started four games, but he made 19 tackles on the year. The 6-3, 225-pounder will start in the middle where he should be one of the team’s leading statistical stars and one of the team’s best yappers – he’ll get everyone fired up. He’s like a big safety at linebacker with big hitting ability and terrific range. 6-0, 217-pound sophomore Mike Moore made four tackles in his true freshman season, serving mostly on the special teams. He might not be all that big, but he’s an athlete who’ll produce whenever he gets the chance.

Senior Blake Slaughter didn’t do anything over the last two seasons, redshirting last year and making two tackles on the outside and working on special teams in 2011, but he was a key part of the puzzle making 47 tackles three years ago. At 5-10 and 227 pounds he’s a bit undersized, but he can hit. 6-0, 223-pound redshirt freshman Will Davis is a top pass rushing prospect and sure-thing tackler with far more talent than Slaughter. He might not start out the season as a starter, but he’s push hard for the gig.

Junior Jonathan Truman will go from being a nice backup to a starting role after making 25 tackles with two forced fumbles. A great special teamer, he was always around the ball and always working to make a play. While he’s not big at 5-11 and 219 pounds, he’ll stick his nose in anywhere.

Watch Out For … Nick Ramirez. A great get out of Missouri, he’s a idle linebacker prospect who might be needed more on the outside early on. A sound tackler, he can get to the quarterback when needed, but he doesn’t miss an open field stop. 6-1, 223-pound Isaiah Williams has good flash – he’s the best of the outside recruits brought in.
Strength: Quickness. The Wildcats don’t have a ton of bulk, but the linebackers always fit a type utilizing good athletes who get around the ball in a hurry. There might not be elite talents across the board, but everyone will get in on plays.
Weakness: Experience and production. Walker is coming off an injury and there are way too many hopes and guesses. Losing a star in Arthur Brown really, really hurts – there isn’t anyone close to his level in this corps.
Outlook: The linebackers were expected to come up with a big year, and they did. Now it’s redo time, and while Walker will be in for a big season if he can stay healthy, overall this will be a decent corps rather than a sensational one. Making the routine plays won’t be a problem, but there won’t be much pizzazz.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Defensive Backs

The secondary has some massive holes to fill, but it brings back one of the best defensive backs in the Big 12 with veteran safety Ty Zimmerman, an All-Big 12 and fringe All-American star who made 50 tackles with five picks and three tackles for loss. At 6-1 and 204 pounds, the senior has good size, great range and tremendous ability to track the ball in the air. Big, athletic and with a nose for the ball, the former quarterback is a smart leader and peerless open field tackler – he doesn’t miss a stop. Now he has to become even more of a factor with the ball-hawking Malone gone.

Locking down a corner job is junior Randall Evans, a former walk-on who turned into a nice nickel and dime defender finishing third on the team with 76 tackles with a pick and six broken up passes. A playmaker, he’s a big hitter in the open field with just enough timing and burst to get into the backfield. He’ll do a little everything for the secondary, and while he could move back to his 2012 role, he’ll get a first look at one of the open corner spots. If he goes to safety, he could quickly be replaced by rising prospect Nate Jackson, a 5-11, 185-pound JUCO transfer who could play anywhere in the secondary. With great speed and tackling ability, he can handle himself well against any Big 12 receiver.

The other corner spot is even more up in the air with 5-11, 195-pound sophomore Morgan Burns one of the team’s fastest defenders and one of the special teams superstars. A state champion-level sprinter, he was a great recruit who needs to bring his skills and talents somewhere in the secondary. However, senior Kip Daily will get every shot at one of the corner gigs. The 5-11, 180-ound former JUCO transfer hasn’t been able to show what he can do for the Wildcats, but he has the skills to become a dangerous playmaker when the ball is in the air.

Sophomore Dante Barnett was a special teamer last season who got a few starts in. At 6-1 and 186 pounds he has good size and can pop, coming up with 24 tackles with two broken up passes. In the disaster against Baylor he was one of the bright spots with 14 tackles, providing a glimpse of what he could potentially do.

Watch Out For … Dakorey Johnson. Is he a linebacker or a safety? The 6-3, 210-pounder might be needed more for the defensive backfield after making 82 tackles for Trinity Valley CC, however, he’s a pass rusher who might be better suited as a hybrid outside linebacker.
Strength: Zimmerman and Evans. The Wildcats always fill in the cracks where needed, but they have two terrific veterans to start with. If Johnson and Jackson come in and produce right away, and if Barnett, Burns and Daily can rise up and play as expected, everything could be okay.
Weakness: Nigel Malone and Allen Chapman. The two stars combined for ten picks, 14 broken up passes and 108 stops. Yes, Kansas State can find bodies to replace the stats, but it’ll be tough to take over for the playmakers.
Outlook: The secondary struggled a bit too much late in the year, getting bombed on by Oklahoma State and Texas. After allowing way too many yards, the Cats have to replace two stars in Malone and Chapman and have to hope for several untested options to turn into producers. This could be the Achilles heel of the defense even with Zimmerman and Evans as anchors.
Unit Rating: 6.5

Special Teams

Gone is Anthony Cantele after a fantastic season hitting 19-of-23 field goals, and in comes his brother, Jack Cantele, a sophomore who has to prove he can be as good as his brother, but he has a bigger leg and can be tried out far more from deep – Anthony’s biggest shot came from 42 yards out.

The punting game was terrific, but Ryan Doerr is gone after averaging 41 yards per kick and putting 15 inside the 20. Junior Mark Krause started out his career at Missouri Southern averaging just 37.5 yards per kick, he has the strength and the potential to do far more.

Receiver Tyler Lockett is one of the nation’s best kickoff returner, following up a 35.2-yard average with two scores with 32.8-yard average with two touchdowns. It doesn’t matter that teams try to stay away from him; he makes things happen. Tramaine Thompson was unstoppable on punt returns averaging 19.8 yards per try with an 89-yard score against Missouri State.

Watch Out For … Matthew McCrane, a top kicker prospect who’ll give Cantele a big push. With a huge leg, he has 50+ range, but he needs to show he can connect from inside the 40 on a consistent basis.
Strength: The return game. Kansas State finished first in the nation in kickoff returns and second in punt returns. Lockett and Thompson are special.
Weakness: Kickoff coverage. The punt coverage team isn’t a problem allowing two yards per try, but the kickoff coverage team was a disaster allowing 24.2 yards per try with three scores.
Outlook: The return games will be phenomenal again, but the kicking game is a big question mark. Cantele will be more than fine in place of his brother, but Krause has big shoes to fill.
Unit Rating: 7.5
 
- 2013 Kansas State Preview | 2013 Kansas State Offense
- 2013 Kansas State Defense | 2013 Kansas State Depth Chart