The Purple Pride Line: Optimism High for the D

Injuries, inexperience, inconsistency, and lack of solid fundamentals on defense were major factors in the 4-7 season Kansas State suffered through last year. There are some talented newcomers that will challenge for starting positions and the injuries have healed leading to some optimistic views of what the players and coaches expect this season.

There are still questions such as can Ted Sims and Scott Edmunds stay healthy? Will Brandon Archer continue to improve on his breakout season of 2004? How good are these much talked about newcomers? Will Marvin Simmons show up and fulfill his potential tag? Who will emerge as the vocal leaders of this season's defense? These issues and many more surround a defense with more question marks than any Snyder defense of recent memory.

The questions are not without merit and the coaches and players will admit the frustration along with the anger that they still have in them following last season. The defensive tradition at Kansas State is a long and proud one full great players and hard nose play. This is a new season and while the coaches and players have moved on, last season is never far from their memories.

Head Coach Bill Snyder addressed the subject on Kansas State media day and answered the question of what areas the defense needs to improve on from the fundamental side.

"On the defensive side, we said we needed to become a better tackling football team said Snyder. We needed to be a better pursuit football team. We needed to be a better coverage team."

Leadership and accountability are things being stressed within the players on this year's defensive squad. So far this years if a player isn't where they're supposed to be or if the play isn't made there will be someone in their face getting them where they need to be. There isn't a lot of behind the back finger pointing its play hard, smart and consistent. This is a change that has been noticed by the coaches.

"We severely lacked leadership last year said Defensive Line Coach Joe Bob Clements. This year it's different so far because the players are taking charge of the leadership, accountability and the spirit. When the players are doing that I believe good things can happen."

While all signs to this point in camp seeing an improved defense both physically and mentally Coach Clements is still cautious about what he's seen so early in the process.

"I like what we had at the end of the spring and I think they worked hard over the summer, but we can have no contact with them during that period, said Clements. They all came into camp in shape and the two a day we've had so far have been fine. Remember that it's been without pads, but I think we've had great spirits and attitude. These have been by no means introductory practices. We hit the practice field hard and they took it. They're walking around media day with smiles on their faces, but I guarantee there are some bruises under those jerseys. So far its been great in the practices we've had, we'll see if they can sustain it, and if they can we should be able to win some football games this year."

Tuesday Part Two: Who are some of the newcomers who will be able to make an impact for the Wildcats this season on defense? Defensive coordinator Bob Elliott will let us in on some of those names that could come up big for K-State in 2005.

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