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19 Kansas State

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

Kansas State's defense is about as basic as it gets, but it's really good. It was No. 1 in the Big 12 in rush defense and total defense. It's more of a base defense—four down, two safeties—but the players know how you're going to attack them, and they know how to cover it up. They don't give up big plays. They have a tackle [6-foot, 306-pound senior], WILL GEARY, who's a really good player. Secondary-wise, they're strong. D.J. Reed [a 5'9" junior cornerback] does a great job of defending the deep ball and tackling anything underneath. They play hard, and they're tough.

They have a lot more scheme on offense. They run more multiple sets. They're a spread team, but they still utilize a lot of tight end and fullback packages. They've got people coming back, and that's going to make this a good team. Their quarterback [6'3", 212-pound senior Jesse Ertz] is an outstanding athlete who can hurt you through the air, but he's also a great runner. In third-and-threes or third-and-fives, with a lot of teams it's an automatic pass. Ertz is accurate and can do that, but he also can pull it down and run. They're very physical on the offensive line.

Your possessions are going to be limited because they do such a good job of protecting the football and moving the chains.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % (22ND)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT (96TH)

COMPLETION % (81ST)

YARDS PER CARRY (24TH)

SACKS ALLOWED (51ST)

TURNOVERS LOST (5TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE (34TH)

YARDS PER PLAY (67TH)

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % ALLOWED (40TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT ALLOWED (83RD)

COMPLETION % ALLOWED (110TH)

YARDS PER CARRY ALLOWED (25TH)

SACKS (40TH)

TURNOVERS GAINED (24TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE ALLOWED (40TH)

YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED (70TH)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RATING

51

Road games at Texas (10/7) and Oklahoma State (11/18) will be challenging, and Oklahoma (10/21) and West Virginia (11/11) are tough matchups even at home. Even if the Wildcats overperform, a nonconference schedule highlighted by Vanderbilt (9/16) could hold them back.

THE PLAYER TO KNOW

Junior defensive back D.J. REED didn't have a scholarship offer from a major program coming out of Independence High in Bakersfield. Instead Reed walked on at Fresno State, redshirted, then transferred to Cerritos, a junior college in Norwalk, Calif. A year and another transfer later he wound up at Kansas State, where he led the Big 12 in 2016 with 19 passes defensed. He also contributed 75 tackles, three interceptions (one for a touchdown) and two forced fumbles. Although coach Bill Snyder's basic defense makes it hard for stars to emerge, Reed transcends the scheme, and his ball-hawking presence allows the Wildcats to play more aggressively.