Wildcat defense leads the nation heading into Big 12 play

Sophomore defensive back Kendall Adams picked off a Florida Atlantic ball for 15 yards with 1:41 left in the first quarter of the game between Kansas State and FAU in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sept. 17, 2016. (File Photo by Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

The Kansas State defense is out to prove they are legit.

“We only played a half, so a lot of people might not take it as serious we might take it,” sophomore defensive back Kendall Adams said. “So we want to go out this week and prove that we deserve that ranking.”

The ranking Adams is referring to is the Wildcats’ No. 1 ranking in total defense – not just in the Big 12, but nationally. The Wildcats allow just 179 yards a game and are fifth nationally in scoring defense, allowing only 11 points per game.

The stats may not paint the whole picture, however, as K-State has really only played two-and-a-half games and two of those opponents were Florida Atlantic and Missouri State.

Despite these potentially deceiving stats, Wildcat defenders are out to prove they are for real.

“We know where to be and we’re in the right positions now,” junior linebacker Elijah Lee said. “We react a lot faster and we’re hungry to get turnovers and that’s something we shoot for each game.”

The first step in proving their defense is as good as advertised comes Saturday against West Virginia, which will be no easy task. The Mountaineers are averaging more than 500 yards of offense a game and have beaten the likes of Missouri and BYU in route to an undefeated 3-0 start.

Senior quarterback Skyler Howard will pose a big threat for Kansas State, and is by far the most experienced quarterback the Wildcats will have seen so far this season. Howard averages 324.7 yards a game through the air.

Head coach Bill Snyder is wary of what Howard and the Mountaineer offense brings to the table.

“Their quarterback has experience now,” Snyder said. “Last year, he was somewhat inexperienced and he is an improved quarterback. He has the ability to operate their offense, make good decisions and throws the ball better than he was last year. He is always a threat to run the ball, and they have some running backs and probably five wide receivers that all have good hands, skill and can run quite well.”

Lee said the Wildcats just need to focus on doing the things that they do well as a defense.

“You’ve just got to focus on your game and do the things we’ve been doing well,” Lee said. “Disrupting the quarterback, creating turnovers and flying to the ball, I think if we do that we’ll be able to throw him off a little bit.”

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