Fiesta Bowl Countdown: K-State’s defense will stick with fundamentals against Oregon

With Oregon only losing one game this season, it’s easy to sit back and say Kansas State should devise a defensive gameplan similar to the one Stanford used during a 17-14 victory in Eugene.

The Cardinal out-gained the Ducks that night and held Oregon well below its average scoring output. Heck, it scored at least 42 points in each of its other 11 games. Stanford must have been onto something, right?

Perhaps, but K-State coaches aren’t thinking that way.

“That would be a game that a lot of people would say, ‘You could feed off of that,’” coach Bill Snyder said. “But all teams are different. Our defense is different from Stanford’s defense and vice-versa. You have to be careful. You can’t say, ‘They did it, so we can do it.’ It doesn’t work that way.”

So what will K-State’s defensive strategy be against Oregon? Snyder runs far too tight a ship to come out and diagram his plans with the media. But after talking to Snyder and defensive coordinator Tom Hayes, it is clear they won’t be using any brand new schemes or formations.

“We are not going to gimmick and do a bunch of crazy things,” Hayes said. “Several of these teams that have gotten in trouble against Oregon gimmicked and got caught out of gaps – woosh, 50, 70 right over the top – misreads, misexecution if you will. Hopefully we stay away from that.”

Stanford uses a 3-4 base defense. K-State runs a 4-3 base defense, but often goes with the 4-2-5 against pass-happy teams. So it’s unlikely their strategies can easily crossover.

But I asked Snyder if he was tempted to add any new wrinkles to K-State’s defense after watching Oregon’s games for several weeks.

He chuckled before answering.

“Everything is tempting,” Snyder said. “I can’t tell you we always give into temptation, but we are often tempted. It’s a long preparation time on both sides. There is some concern on things you haven’t seen. Normally you prepare for things you have seen over the course of a 12-game season and implement guess work. But if you haven’t seen it you don’t know for sure. So if you are working on something you didn’t work on during the regular season there is some adjustment.”

So it sounds like K-State will be sticking with the defensive strategies that got it to the Fiesta Bowl.

Players approve.

“We are just trying not to do anything fancy,” senior cornerback Nigel Malone said. “We have been preparing the gameplan all month. The biggest thing is just sticking to what we have practiced. We see what they like to do. We think what we have will fit really well.”

So there is no temptation to surprise Oregon with anything new?

“Why would you? It’s just another game,” Malone said. “We have played against fast teams before. It’s really just getting lined up and playing football. Nothing special.”

Next up on the countdown: If Nigel Malone has the chance to score a touchdown against Oregon, he’s handing the ball to the official after he runs through the back of the end zone.

Last time on the countdown: Play of the Year, Kansas State football edition.

Editor’s Note: On Jan. 3, the Kansas State football team will face Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. With that in mind, I am counting down to the big game at University of Phoenix Stadium by attempting to write 21 blog posts in 21 days. I use the word “attempting” because I can only think of so many blog ideas. I’m confident that I can go 21 for 21, but your help is appreciated. Feel free to send a blog idea (or two) my way at or via twitter @KellisRobinett.