So how bad was it for the defense on Saturday? Of the Wildcats' nine drives (not counting the kneel-down to end the half), they scored touchdowns at a 67% success rate and move that up to a 78% scoring success rate when you add in the one field goal. KSU punted one time all day, and the only other drive that did not result in a score ended on a fumble at the A&M 12 yard-line after a 68-yard drive.
In the OSU game, the defense inherited a short field several times due to turnovers. That wasn't the case on Saturday. KSU's average starting field position was their own 28 yard-line, and the Wildcats managed touchdown drives of 98, 93, and 81 yards that obviously started deep inside their own territory.
Another telling statistic that reflects the dominance of Kansas State on Saturday was third and fourth down conversions. Josh Freeman had a field day in short yardage situations with the QB draw. KSU converted on an astounding nine of 12 third down attempts for a 75% success rate, and they successfully managed one fourth down conversion. That tells you that the KSU offense was in complete control, and the few times they were stretched to third down, they knew how to convert and sustain several long drives.
To put it bluntly, there's not much that went right for the Texas A&M defense on Saturday, and after a promising first half performance against a pretty good OSU offense last week on the road (OSU defeated #3 Missouri on the road), the unit took a big step backward.
Defensive Line D-
Lucas Patterson ended the day with seven tackles and showed some life on a handful of plays. I think the one bright spot is the emergence of true freshman Tony Eddie in the interior, and he had one great athletic play when he beat his man, shot the gap and brought down Josh Freeman from behind for no gain when he was staring at nothing but open field in front of him. On the other end of the spectrum is Kellen Heard who has completely disappeared from the action. The guy has a world of talent, but it doesn't matter if he doesn't work hard on every play. Matt Moss was a gamer replacing Michael Bennett, but ultimately he's not the athlete A&M needs at the that position compete against Big 12 offenses.
I want to be fair and I don't like writing these things because these kids are working hard and trying to learn this defense, but this unit is completely in over its head right now both physically and mentally. For one, they look completely confused in lining up. Several times you see two linebackers set-up within a couple of feet of each other leaving huge gaps in the defense. They seem to lose sight of the ball, and take poor angles to the ball. Tackling is sub-par, and the outside guys can't time the snap on the blitz and rarely do they hurry the quarterback to throw the ball on the blitz. The linebacker position almost by default should be making most of the big plays on defense, and aside from a couple of nice stops by Von Miller, the linebacking corps did very little in terms of making plays.
Defensive Back D-
I do like watching Trent Hunter bring the hammer at the end of plays, but other than that, the secondary was fairly inept against the pass. Granted, several completions were to tight ends under the responsibility of the linebackers, but Freeman had an easy time completing simple 8-10 yard out patterns where true freshman Terrence Frederick was giving a generous cushion. KSU also gouged A&M's secondary on some easy screens that the secondary was slow to react and adjust to in the first half. That was reflected in Freeman's 80% completion percentage.
I saw only two plays where A&M did a good job in coverage. Arkeith Brown broke on an out-pattern, stepped in front of the receiver and nearly intercepted the pass. Frederick was tested man-on-man on a deep pattern and he broke it up nicely. That was about it.
Defensive coaching F
Yes, I agree that Coach Kines doesn't have the horses. He's coaching from a short deck. It's one thing when your players simply get beat because they are too slow and not very big. However, we're halfway through the 2008 season and these players have been practicing for over two months now, and the unit looks lost on the field. I don't know if it's not being comfortable in the multiple sets that Kines is trying to run, or if it's the fact that they are now starting and playing no fewer than four true freshmen in the lineup. I don't know, but the unit is playing slow and with very little confidence. They are not comfortable on the field.
OVERALL DEFENSIVE GRADE F
Hop's Defensive Grades
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