September 8, 2008

Tackling remains serious concern for Prince

Ask around. The Kansas State defense is alarming. And for a lot of different reasons. The Wildcats have surrendered their fewest points during the first two games of a season since 2002. They rank in the top 15 nationally in three different major statistical categories and among the top-third of the Big 12 in four categories as well. Still, Ron Prince wasn't about to deliver many compliments following a 69-10 thumping of Montana State on Saturday night.

The K-State head coach still had to count-up all the missed tackles in the contest before he could even start to think about the Wildcats' biggest test so far on Sept. 17 at Louisville, a team that bounced back from a 27-2 loss at home to Kentucky with a 51-10 win against Tennessee Tech.

"I understand what (Louisville's) first week's score was, but I watched the tape and these guys are very good on defense," Prince said. "We'll have to do better than we did today and obviously, we'll have to tackle better."

In outscoring North Texas and Montana State 114-16, K-State hasn't allowed a single play to travel more than 22 yards on 126 total snaps. It has allowed just 3.1 yards per play from scrimmage and 198.0 total yards per game, which ranks No. 14 in the nation.

North Texas and Missouri State went three-and-out on 10 of 27 combined possessions. The Bobcats, who came off a 59-3 opening victory against Division II Adams State, managed just 191 total yards and went 4-for-16 on third down conversions on Saturday. K-State has allowed just six first downs on 29 third-down opportunities.

And that made it almost impossible for North Texas or Montana State to sustain a drive. The Bobcats had the two longest drives on the Wildcats so far, but cornerback Courtney Herndon ended a 10-play, 51-yard jaunt in the first quarter with his first interception of the season. Against a reserve-heavy defense in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats went 56 yards in 11 plays for a 41-yard field goal.

That K-State has given up just 13 points for the best start by a Wildcats defense since 2002 when they held FCS-member Western Kentucky to a field goal and Louisiana-Monroe scoreless in the first two games appears impressive.

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