Ask just about any Big 12 coach about Kansas State defensively, and you're likely to get an answer similar to "they do what they do." To some extent, it's a tremendous compliment. The Wildcats (as they do on offense an special teams) simply execute at a high level. On another level, it comes because people aren't totally sure how a team packed with transfers and retreads have found such results.
In terms of age, the Wildcats may be the most experienced defense in the Big 12. Eight starters, including six of the front seven and both cornerbacks, are seniors, with the remaining starting spots filled by juniors.
All four linemen are former junior college transfers, with the undersized pairing of Meshak Williams (6-3 245) and Adam Davis (6-0 247) serving as arguably the Big 12's best pass-rushing duo. Davis has more tackles with 46, while putting up 11 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks. Williams has slightly more impact plays, with 11.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. And you'd better hold onto the ball … the pair has seven forced fumbles between them.
Neither Vai Lutui (6-2 299) nor John Sua (6-0 294) are the playmaking types, with five tackles for loss combined, but both do an outstanding job of staying cap conscious and stuffing the middle. The Wildcats allow just 3.7 yards per carry, and the work those two do mucking things up is a big part of that.
Arthur Brown (6-1 231) is a tackling machine and arguably the heart of the defense (more on this in a minute). Brown has tremendous sideline-to-sideline range and is arguably the top linebacker in the Big 12. Former quarterback Justin Tuggle (6-3 237) is, ironically enough, the pass-rusher of the group. He'll split time at SAM with Jarell Childs, who has 57 tackles, including 4.5 for loss on the year. Tre Walker (6-3 225) is an athletic presence at WILL.
Both cornerbacks are capable of making big plays. Nigel Malone (5-10 180) is probably the better cover guy, though both he and Allen Chapman (5-11 176) have four interceptions on the year. Randall Evans (6-0 190) plays a bunch at nickel back. He's actually third on the team in tackles with 63.
If Brown isn't the main man on defense, that role would probably fall to free safety Ty Zimmerman (6-1 203), a one-time grayshirt quarterback recruit who has emerged as the quarterback of the secondary. He has five interceptions, and missed most of Baylor's deep-ball fest. Strong safety Jarard Milo (6-2 197) is tremendous in run support. He's second on the team with 68 tackles.
Ryan Doerr (6-3 189) is a consistent punter at 42.1 yards per boot.