June 22, 2007

A new look

Go figure. Kansas State under the cover 2 allowed nearly 14 fewer yards per game in 2006 than it did in 2005, but it still remained eighth in total defense in the Big 12 and dropped a whopping 20 spots to 70th nationally, the lowest by the Wildcats in at least 15 years. Will the 3-4 system under Tim Tibesar boast dramatically different results? Read on.

First off, this is a broad topic. While the agreement "defense must again become a strength" remains the same as the Wildcats (43rd nationally in 2004, 50th in 2005 and 70th in 2006) have been out of the Top 20 nationally for three straight seasons for the first time since the early-'90s, there are simply a multitude of ways to argue the unit's stance between the past two seasons.

Theory 1: The defense was indeed better in 2006. After all, it allowed 345.8 yards (359.5 in '05) and 33 touchdowns (37 in '05). The Wildcats also gave up 23.8 points compared to 27.7 in '05. The red zone and sacks? Forget about it. No Big 12 defense was better.

Theory 2: Dig deeper, fella. The average length per play in '06 (5.2 yards) was a fraction off of '05 (5.1). The average yards per rush in '06 (4.1 yards) was worse than in '05 (3.5) while average yards per pass remained nearly identical in '06 (6.7 yards) as in '05 (6.8). Plus, four quarterbacks threw for at least 250 yards and five rushers gained 100 yards in '06, whereas only two quarterbacks and two rushers reached the same mark the previous season. Also, opponents in '06 scored at least 37 points in four different games. That has happened only two other times in the last 18 seasons ('04 and '89). Finally, look at the comparison in the North. North opponents averaged 26.4 points against K-State in '06, nearly three points above the season average. The '05 Wildcats allowed 25.2 points versus North opponents.

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