Name of the Defense: "TACKLING"

There is a central theme on Defense that has emerged this season. From Houlik to Campbell to Carney - they are all saying this defense already has a name... Straight from the players....Read On!

Ian Campbell says, "I don't mean to sound like a broken record, but it's tackling." Sounding like a broken record, Byron Garvin says, "It's a matter of tackling better."

Chris Carney repeats the theme by saying, "It's been an issue from the beginning ... fundamentals and tackling. We're not doing it."

John Houlik adds, "We're not beating blocks and we're not tackling."

Sooooo, what do you think the defensive theme has been this week on the defensive side of the football during Kansas State's preparation for the Baylor Bears?

Once the pride and joy of Wildcat football, the ego of the K-State defenders has taken a bruising lately giving up 510 yards to Oklahoma State, 411 to Colorado, and 437 to Kansas.

The main problem has been stopping the run as those three teams have rushed for 329, 188 and 170 yards, respectively.

"That's something we definitely have to fix," said Campbell, the Wildcats defensive end/outside linebacker after the loss to the Cowboys. "We didn't stop the run and we didn't stop them when we needed to. We're not very happy about that."

Coach Ron Prince isn't happy with the missed tackles, but explains that it might be a sign of the times in college football.

"People are spreading you out, getting good athletes in space, and maybe forcing you to have to beat a very athletic blocker to make a tackle in open space," Prince said. "Someone is going to have to be creative enough and insightful enough to get on the front end of this thing defensively and start to stem the tide a little bit."

The Wildcat coach said that a part of tackling is decision making, "...so we need to start making better decisions. Our calls are terrific, and we have people in place, but we just have to make the tackle."

Better decisions, Prince says, comes through understanding where the leverage is, who's coming with you, where he's coming from, and where you are in relation to the sidelines. And then, "At times you're one-on-one and just have to get the guy down."

Prince said he wasn't second-guessing the new 3-4 defensive look that the Wildcats are playing.

"We have good players around the ball and we've been able to put ourselves in good coverage position," Prince said. But he added, "Nothing is a successful until you win with it. No matter what front you line up with, you're going to have issues if you don't beat blocks and make tackles."

And, while K-State does have 11 interceptions in four Big 12 games, Prince is unhappy with the fact that it has yet to recover a fumble.

For now, Prince is calling this defensive unit anything but great. He points out that the Wildcats had fourth-quarter leads in each of its three losses to Auburn, Kansas and Oklahoma State. The Tigers out-scored KSU in the final period 14-0, the Jayhawks 9-7, and the Cowboys 17-11.

"Until you make some fourth-quarter stops, you're not a great defense," Prince said. "We have to make some improvement there." While K-State had defensive and special team woes against the Cowboys, finger pointing is not a problem.

"Sometimes the offense has to step up, sometimes the defense steps up," said KSU wide receiver Jordy Nelson. "Our defense has had our back (offense) several times this year. We tried to help them out on Saturday, but didn't get it done. As a team, we want one more point than the other team, no matter how it comes."


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