Saturday’s performance could be a sign that K-State’s defense is back on track

Defensive back AJ Parker and defensive end Kyle Ball jump up to celebrate Ball’s quarterback sack against OSU. (Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

“We’ve got to improve even more on tackling this week. We are running to the ball and trying to make plays, but we have to be disciplined in our tackling.”

That was junior linebacker Justin Hughes after a loss at home to Texas just a few weeks ago.

After the K-State defense relatively shut down the Oklahoma State offense in a 31-12 victory on Saturday, Hughes had different things to say after the game.

“We just got after it. We were hype coming out of the locker room. For starters we were just tired of losing so we came out with a mentality that we were not going to lose,” Hughes said.

K-State held the Cowboys to 311 total yards and only allowed one touchdown on Saturday. Entering the day, the Cowboys were second in the Big 12 in scoring offense—44 points per game— and first in in rushing offense, averaging 213.5 yards per game.

The Cowboys were held to just 127 yards in the running game.

The defense made it known early that it might bend but not break.

K-State senior defensive back Duke Shelly had an incredible interception in the back of the end zone in the second quarter to keep the Cowboys from scoring a first half touchdown. After tipping the ball in the air, Shelley was able to grab it and just drag his feet in bounds.

That quickly gave the K-State defense early momentum against the second highest scoring offense in the Big 12.

After a quick three and out by the K-State offense, the defense came back out and held the Cowboys to a field goal after a goal line stand.

Overall, the defense wrapped up tackles, covered receivers extremely well and made Oklahoma State quarterback Taylor Cornelius uncomfortable the entire game.

Shutting down star running back Justice Hill was a key element on getting the victory on Saturday. Hill was second in the Big 12 in rushing yards per game heading into Saturday’s game, but the Wildcats limited him to 41 rushing yards.

Freshman defensive end Wyatt Hubert talked about how the Wildcats managed to shut Hill down on Saturday. “The one thing we stressed this week was we just have to be in our gaps,” Hubert said. “We have to know our assignments and be gap sound and be gap disciplined, especially in the run game. Obviously, it worked out.”

Hill came into the contest having scored a rushing touchdown in 12 consecutive games.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats would put the hammer down against the Cowboys.

Cornelius overthrew several receivers and was eventually sacked by Reggie Walker and threw an interception to Shelley, his second of the day, to seal the game for the Wildcats.

“It feels great. Having two picks in one game… that is the first time I have done that in college football so it’s definitely a great feeling,” Shelley said of his performance. “Thankful for the guys up front for getting after the quarterback.”

The K-State defense played well for the entire game and will look to carry that momentum through the bye week as the Wildcats prepare to travel to Norman to face Oklahoma on October 27th.