Manhattan-Chris Klieman doesn't need to really understand the numbers to know what's wrong.
His Kansas Wildcats lost for the third time in a row, opening the top 12 teams, and a defensive force that showed such hope in non-conference victories over Stanford University, Southern Illinois and Nevada suddenly seemed lost. NS.
It is true that the opening game against Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma State University and Iowa State University was a difficult task at first, but Klieman and his staff saw a deeper regression than their opponents.
In these three games, the Wildcats averaged 33.7 points and 430.3 yards.
However, the coaches did not invest more in the defense that has adapted to the new 3-3-5 plan, but took the completely opposite approach and returned to the basics.
"We may have tried to do too much," Kleiman said after giving up 418 yards in the Wildcats' 33-20 loss to Iowa State, which was never as close as the final score suggested. "We need to continue to simplify so that we can play faster and attack more, regardless of whether it brings more pressure.
"If we simplify the plan and simplify the phone calls, maybe our children will play faster. So, as the coaching staff, we must take responsibility."
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So this is what the Wildcats did. In the following week's first half game at Texas Tech University, K-State fell behind the Red Raiders 24-10 during the break. However, the defense did not succumb, but a blockade in the rest of the game, and recorded a safety, proved to be the difference of 25-24 behind the victory.
Then there was TCU, where K-State did surrender for 340 yards, but stopped the Horned Frogs twice in the fall in the red zone and restricted them to a single field goal in a convincing 31-12 victory. superior. The Wildcats didn't give up touchdowns until the game went smoothly in the fourth quarter.
Last week, against Lawrence, the Wildcats once again stood firm on the defensive end, controlled the Jayhawks at 274 yards, and separated the town with a 35-10 ratio. They are now 6-3 overall, 3-3 in Big 12, and renewed confidence in their home game against West Virginia at 11 AM on Saturday morning.
"We can now play faster without worrying about too many calls and where we should adapt in different positions," defensive winger Jaylen Pickel said.
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Defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah is enjoying a breakthrough sophomore season with 10 sacks, and he attributes this change to a change of direction.
"It allows us to play faster," he said. "Entering Iowa State University, it was a goodbye week, so they tried to implement a lot of things for us. Obviously Iowa State University received all these calls and we encountered a lot of failures.
"Looking back to know what we did on all the game calls, it was a bit difficult. So they made things easier. The simpler the phone calls, it allows us to play faster. This is how we can play games. ."
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Klieman and defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman also adjusted some of the roles of the three safety positions, which in turn helped to consolidate the pass defense. K-State is now ranked third in Big 12 and 32nd in total national defense.
"Some of them are based on people. Some of them are when we move J-Mac (Jahron McPherson)," Klieman said. "We are learning this kind of defense because we made some mistakes in defense and I know this will happen this year because we will continue to evaluate our talents and evaluate where we will put people on the court.
"In addition, where does Cincere Mason fit? Where does Ross Elder fit? We took action last week to use J-Mac as an intermediate security to give him a chance to get close to the action. This is a good move for us."
In another action, safety Reggie Stubfield sometimes began to jump in at the strong side linebacker position, spelling Wayne Jones and Ryan Hennington. In fact, Stubfield has always been the ultimate pragmatist.
"To be honest, our defensive plan actually allows me to play a lot of positions," said Stubblefield, a senior graduate who transferred from Prairie View A&M. "Sometimes you can see me as a corner kick, sometimes as a secondary linebacker in the penalty area.
"It can even rotate freely (safely) sometimes, or if we use a different packaging, in the corner. So, still just a versatile person."
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Center linebacker Daniel Green also began to show up in his junior year, leading the Wildcats to tackle tackles and playing a role throughout the court. In the frontcourt, Eli Huggins and transfer Timmy Horne have been stable in the middle, and together with Anudike-Uzomah became part of the revolving door rotation, keeping everyone fresh.
When asked if he was worried that simplifying the defense might make the Wildcats too predictable as the opponent's offense adjusts, Kliman believes that although the defense continues to evolve with their new three-in-three linebacker plan, less is the only thing. many.
"Our feeling is that when we undress, our players play faster and we want to continue to add something," he said. Playing slowly, our defense is not very good. "So we have to go back to what our kids know, that our players can perform at a high level. I still think that the less is better for us now."