For the second consecutive year, Kansas State’s defense held on for a goal-line stand, forcing a turnover against the Miami Hurricanes that helped decide the game.
Admittedly, Saturday’s circumstances were a bit different than last year’s.
Instead of the defense preserving a victory in a tight ballgame, the Wildcat defensive stand on Saturday helped quash any hope of a Miami comeback. Even more poetic was the devastating sack on third down by former Hurricane Arthur Brown. The 8-yard loss for Miami quarterback Stephen Morris set the Canes up for a long fourth down, which much like last year, came up a yard short.
“Honestly it was just a final stance,” Brown said. “We definitely accept those challenges on the goal line, and it helps define what type of defense you really are.”
Teammate Tre Walker was more impressed with the hit Brown put on Morris.
“That tackle was amazing,” Walker said. “He did a great job of just coming through and doing what he does best, just reading off the tackles and coming through and making a play on the quarterback.”
The defense helped the offense build its big lead by scooping up all three of Miami’s fumbles, including one at the Miami 15-yard line that set up an easy touchdown run for backup quarterback Daniel Sams to put the score out of reach early in the fourth quarter.
The unit also made up for its lack of pressure in the season opener, sacking Morris five times after not recording a sack against Missouri State.
Part of that motivation came from head coach Bill Snyder, who reminded his defense about its lack of pressure throughout the week.
“We took it to heart,” Walker said. “Coach Snyder showed us a few media articles about our sacks. We had zero sacks, and you can’t do that against any Big 12 team. We started out (last) Monday and made it a big issue.”
Much was made of Brown’s second chance to play his former team, and the senior did not disappoint. He logged 10 tackles - two for a loss - while also recovering a fumble.
The K-State rush defense was outstanding all day, allowing just 40 yards on the ground to the Hurricanes.
The pass defense? Not so much.
The K-State secondary struggled against Miami’s passing game, with Morris throwing for 215 yards while representing the only success the Canes saw offensively all day.
“There were a couple schemes that we had difficulty with,” Snyder said, “and Miami was very consistent with those schemes, which allowed them to get out of some of those third and longs and keep drives going.”
Snyder was quick to point out that while the secondary gave up the majority of Miami’s yards, they allowed the rest of the unit to go after the quarterback.
“Some of the pressure that we got to,” he said, “and some of the sacks we got were because of our coverage.”
True freshman Duke Johnson, who surprised the college football world with a two-touchdown, 135-yard breakout performance in Week 1 was held to just 19 yards on six carries.
While the Wildcats are expecting big things this year, even Walker was surprised that it took opponents seven quarters of football to score the first touchdown on the K-State defense.
“We didn’t expect to click this fast,” Walker said. “But what we did do was just play ball and let things take care of themselves.”