Crunching numbers on K-State’s defense

Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder and defensive coordinator Tom Hayes are using the same argument to explain why the Wildcats were better against the pass last season than the 263.3 yards per game they allowed indicate.

Said Snyder:

“Statistically, the defense against the passing game may have suffered, but you have to look at this conference. You look at the conference and there are teams that are throwing the ball an average of 400 yards per ballgame against some very fine football teams. In this league, statistics throwing the football are going to be significantly higher than they might normally be in most conferences.”

Said Hayes:

“Our stats are skewed somewhat in the way that we played against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State two weeks in a row. We didn’t play very well and they played very well and they were very talented on offense, both of them. We gave up a ton of yards to them and we lost both those games, but they kind of skew what happened in the whole scheme of things … They do that to everybody.”

There is truth in each of those statements. There is no shortage of offense in the Big 12. While K-State’s pass defense ranked a respectable sixth in the conference last season, it ranked an ugly 103rd nationally.

Maybe Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said it best in Dallas last month when he described the Big 12 as “a points league.”

“You’re still going to have to score a lot of points no matter what,” Tuberville said. “You’re going to give up points in this league. This is a points league. I mean, we scored close to 40 points a game last year and won five games.”

The Wildcats’ secondary did a nice job coming up with interceptions and scoring the occasional touchdown, but it regularly allowed big plays against high-powered offenses and big-name quarterbacks.

During the two-week stretch referenced by Hayes, Landry Jones led Oklahoma to 520 passing yards in an easy win at Snyder Family Stadium. Then Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon led Oklahoma State to 502 passing yards in a thrilling win in Stillwater.

Take those two games out of the mix, and K-State’s passing defense suddenly looks a whole lot better. In its 11 other games, K-State allowed an average of 218.2 yards through the air.

That doesn’t absolve K-State’s pass defense from blame, though.

The Wildcats surrendered 412.6 passing yards in their three losses last year. In their wins, the Wildcats allowed 218.5 passing yards. There is a connection here.

So just how good, or bad, was K-State’s pass defense last season?

The answer, as is usually the case, can be found somewhere in the middle.

It isn’t fair to simply throw out a team’s worst two games and say the rest is its true average. You must also remove the team’s two best games.

Early on last season, K-State’s defense overwhelmed Eastern Kentucky and Kent State. Those inferior opponents threw for 200 combined yards.

Take out those two wins along with the losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and K-State’s pass defense is left with this average in its other nine games: 244.5 yards.