October 7, 2008
Players know Tibesar is under pressure
It would be unjust to blame the 421 yards of total offense and more than 30 points per game the Kansas State defense is allowing this season on one person. But, fair or not, if the Wildcats' defense continues down its current path, it will be defensive coordinator Tim Tibesar who will pay the price. Make no mistake; the players who suit up to do the K-State assistant coach's bidding on Saturdays are acutely aware of what's at stake.
"I think about (Tibesar's neck being on the line) a lot, and I know a lot of other people on the team do, too," said K-State linebacker John Houlik. "If he could be out there playing, he would in a heartbeat. He loves coaching and he loves playing. It's one of those things, where it's just not about us. Ultimately, the blame goes on him, but it should be on us."
Where the blame should or shouldn't be placed is irrelevant, however, as everybody knows whose shoulders will be burdened most if the Wildcats' defensive struggles continue.
A defense that ranks No. 102 out of 119 Division I teams, and has put up better numbers than just four teams from BCS conferences can't go uncorrected, and the players who comprise the struggling unit can only run so many late-night wind sprints, but that's not to say something drastic is definitely on the horizon.
Firing a coordinator midseason is many times viewed as a desperation move, a sign of a head coach trying to hang on to that very title, and doing so does pose the risk of making things worse. Qualified coordinators aren't lined up at the unemployment office in the middle of the season after all.
On the other end of the spectrum, however, is the fact that such a change is certainly capable of generating a spark, something the hapless Wildcat defense, which appears to be on life support, needs desperately.
"I know that, in the end, the coaches have to pay the bill for what's going on around here," senior defensive end Ian Campbell said.
Everyone, including Tibesar himself, understands the nature of the business, but even still, the 52.8 points K-State has allowed over the course of its last four games against Big 12 competition, all of which ended with a loss, aren't enough for Prince to discuss the possibility of making a change at the defensive coordinator spot . . . at least not publicly.
"By and large, we're seeing improvement in a lot of different areas, but it has to result in Ws," Prince said when asked to evaluate Tibesar's performance up to this point. "That's where the focus is."
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