K-State’s Defense Fails Them in Memphis

| January 4, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Cole Manbeck

Kansas State was already facing an uphill challenge going against the Arkansas offense in the Liberty Bowl. And then news leaked out Saturday morning that Will Geary, arguably the Wildcats’ best defensive lineman, and Duke Shelley, their best cover corner, would not play. Slowing down the Razorbacks’ offense became a monumental task with the news.

As we wrote in last week’s blog previewing the game, Arkansas entered Saturday’s content with the most efficient offense in the SEC. And that efficiency was on full display on Saturday against a depleted K-State defense that has struggled all season.

Arkansas averaged 8.4 yards per offensive play against the Wildcats defense. That’s the highest yards-per-play average the Razorbacks have had in a game against an FBS opponent since their season-opening game against UTEP. The 8.4 yards per play given up was the second-highest average the K-State defense had given up in a game this season (TCU averaged 10.2 per play against K-State).

Arkansas yards per play on offense in 2015-16 against FBS teams

Opponent Yards per play
UTEP 9.0
Texas Tech 6.6
Toledo 6.1
Texas A&M 6.8
Tennessee 6.7
Alabama 3.9
Auburn 5.6
Mississippi 7.2
LSU 7.9
Mississippi State 6.7
Missouri 4.5
K-State 8.4

 

K-State yards per play allowed on defense in 2015-16 against FBS teams

Opponent Yards per play allowed
UTSA 3.7
Louisiana Tech 5.1
Oklahoma State 5.9
TCU 10.2
Oklahoma 6.8
Texas 5.4
Baylor 7.8
Texas Tech 7.9
Iowa State 7.0
KU 4.5
West Virginia 5.3
Arkansas 8.4

Arkansas came into Saturday’s game averaging 3.04 points per offensive possession, the best mark in the SEC and the 10th-best nationally. Against K-State, the Razorbacks averaged 4.5 points per offensive possession, the most points per possession scored by the Razorbacks against an FBS opponent since their season-opening victory over UTEP (4.8 points per possession). The only other games Arkansas averaged more than 4 points per possession came against Mississippi and Auburn. And keep in mind those numbers are inflated because those games both went into overtime, meaning Arkansas was able to start a possession already in scoring position at the opponents’ 25-yard line.

Arkansas points per possession on offense in 2015-16 against FBS teams

Opponent Points per possession scored
UTEP 4.8
Texas Tech 3.0
Toledo 1.2
Texas A&M 2.3
Tennessee 2.2
Alabama 1.0
Auburn 4.2 (4 overtimes)
Mississippi 4.4 (1 overtime)
LSU 3.1
Mississippi State 3.8
Missouri 2.5
K-State 4.5

The 4.5 points per possession allowed by the K-State defense was a season-high. Oklahoma was the only other opponent to score at least 4 points per possession against the Wildcats. The Sooners averaged 4 points per possession against K-State.

Points per possession allowed by the K-State defense in 2015-16 against FBS teams

Opponent Points per possession allowed
UTSA 0.28
Louisiana Tech 2.1
Oklahoma State 3.0
TCU 3.5
Oklahoma 4.0
Texas 2.1
Baylor 3.1
Texas Tech 3.9
Iowa State 2.5
KU 1.2
West Virginia 1.2
Arkansas 4.5

K-State had no answer for the balanced Arkansas offense. The Wildcats struggled upfront against the Razorbacks’ large and physical offensive line. Running back Alex Collins rushed for a season-best 185 yards. Arkansas’ 6 yards-per-carry average its second-highest yards-per-rush average against an FBS opponent this season.

Brandon Allen, the senior quarterback for Arkansas, completed 77 percent of his passes, his highest completion percentage since the season-opening victory over UTEP. The three-year starter averaged 12.1 yards per pass attempt, the most since the UTEP game. Allen hadn’t averaged more than 9.8 yards per attempt in any other FBS game this season.

K-State lost the time of possession battle by 15 minutes, which was a significant issue for a defense with little depth. The Wildcats had only lost on time of possession in three other games this season, with the largest disparity coming against Oklahoma, when the Sooners possessed the ball for an 8:44 advantage. K-State’s defense was on the field for a season-high 37:30 on Saturday. The Wildcats ran a season-low 47 offensive plays. Heading into the Liberty Bowl, K-State had at least 60 offensive snaps in every game except the 55-0 loss to Oklahoma (53 snaps).

The only chance K-State had to win Saturday was to win a shootout, something it never wants to get involved in. The Wildcats had three trips inside the red zone where it kicked field goals instead of touchdowns. And that, coupled with a struggling defense against the high-powered Arkansas offense, was the difference in Saturday’s outcome.

 

 

 

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