K-State Def Must Be Better from Inside, Out

Kansas State's offense put up better than 35 points per game in 2007, yet the Wildcats won just five games. That's because of a defense that didn't do its part. Out to change that in 2008 is second-year defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar. K-State's spring game will be played Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Tim Tibesar said it wasn't the 3-4, or the 4-3, or any other defensive alignment that Kansas State played last year.

Instead, the Wildcat second-year defensive coordinator offered, "We didn't play good defense. There's no other way to put it. As coaches, our responsibility is to get players to execute at a level that allows us to be successful, and that didn't happen."

K-State couldn't stop the run, allowing over 141 yards per game, and couldn't stop the pass, allowing 259 yards per game.

The 400 total yards the Wildcats allowed ranked eighth in the Big 12 and 69th nationally, and even more alarming was the fact the 30.8 points allowed was ninth in the league and 86th in the country.

"As a staff and defensive unit, we are very hungry and humble about where we've got to go," said Tibesar.

"We know we have a lot of improvement over the way we played last year." Head coach Ron Prince put the blame for last year's defensive woes on the play up the middle.

That starts with the defensive tackle, continues with the inside linebackers, and ends with the safety positions.

"We have to make it tough for teams to run between the tackles," Tibesar said. "Ideally, you want a guy in there that can warrant a double-team, but if not, a guy that can make tackles."

While saying you can't narrow the problems of 2007 down to any single position, Tibesar said, "With any type of defense you have to be strong from the inside out."

While Tibesar says he has "no concerns" on the defensive side, he also says, "All 11 positions are open right now. We're looking for guys who can start, and we're looking for guys who can provide depth."

Expected to head the way at the tackle spots will be 6-0, 266-pound senior Brandon Balkcom, plus 6-2, 275 sophomore Xzavier Stewart, plus newcomers Jack Hayes (6-4, 270, Jr) and John Finau (6-1, 295, Jr).

The inside linebacker spots will be returnees Reggie Walker (6-1, 231, Sr) and John Houlik (5-11, 217, Jr). Trying to win spots inside will be newcomers Hansen Sekona (6-0, 230, Jr) and Ulla Pomele (6-1, 235, Jr).

Safety positions will be manned by Chris Carney (6-1, 190, Jr), Gary Chandler (5-11, 190, Sr.), Courtney Herndon (5-11, 204, Jr) and Dahrnaz Tigner (6-2, 200, Soph).

On the outskirts of the defense will be Ian Campbell returning to one end spot, while the flip side is wide open with Chidumbamu Abama (6-5, 280, Sr), plus newcomers Raphael Guidry (6-4, 240, Fr) and Payton Kirk (6-6, 240, Fr). On moving Campbell back to an end position after playing him mostly as an outside linebacker last year, Tibesar said, "He'll play with his hand down more than last year, but we also want to move him around so teams can't zero in on him.

He's one of the better players in the Big 12, so we need to take advantage of the things he can do."

Outside linebacking candidates are Eric Childs (6-3, 227, Jr), Ross Diehl (6-2, 215, Jr) and Antwon Moore (5-10, 210, Sr).

"Antwon can certainly bring a physical level, as people saw in his first two games," Tibesar said of Moore, who suffered a season-ending injury two games into the season. "To have him back with his speed will be a great addition."

At the corners are Ray Cheatham (6-0, 190, Sr), Joshua Moore (5-11, 187, Soph), Kendrick Matthews (5-10, 180, Soph), Otis Johnson, 5-11, 185, Jr), Blair Irvin (5-11, 185, Jr) and Billy McClellan (5-9, 180, Jr).

Moore missed the 2007 season for academic reasons, but now Tibesar says, "If he can play at his talent level, he can be a great addition."

As to whether the Wildcats will be primarily 3-4 or 4-3 look, Tibesar said, "It will be a mix just like last year. Everyone in the country is mixing what they do on defense. You have to show the quarterback more than one look."

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