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.”
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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.”
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