April 13, 2006

Wildcat secondary picking up new scheme

The bump-and-run took a walk. The days of becoming lost in a wide receiver's eyes, and more often than not, left guessing the quarterback's intentions while marooned on an island of FieldTurf, will no longer serve as the loose staple for a Kansas State defense that in the past two seasons reeked of pass defense inefficiency. Behind youthful leadership and a new system, the guys in the secondary have never had more fun.

Defensive personnel might wear purple jerseys on the practice field, but in the meeting room at Vanier Football Complex eyes remain fixed on the red, black and gold uniforms worn by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Welcome to Tampa 2. Or call it Tampa Cover 2. Or call it Cover 2. Doesn't matter what you call it, really. The formula basically remains the same. The Wildcats hope it will curb consecutive seasons in which they ranked 11th in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense (86th nationally in 2004, 63rd in 2005). A year ago, they allowed 18 touchdowns through the air and accounted for exactly eight interceptions - the second-fewest by a K-State team in 16 years.

At first glance, the electric Raheem Morris, a 29-year-old entering his first stint as defensive coordinator at any level, has transformed the oft picked-on defensive secondary into bullies: Bullies that swarm, gang tackle, sneer on the field and smile off of it.

"It's not a simple system because it's so detailed, but it puts us in a better position to see the quarterback and the ball," strong safety Kyle Williams said. "There's not a lot of confusion. You've just got to execute. I'm up here (in the meeting room) a lot more than before. I'm a sponge just absorbing everything I can. I learn a lot because (Morris) knows a lot."

So far, first-year coach Ron Prince is pleased with the progress.

"I'm very satisfied with what they're doing," he said. "There's a nice group of (personnel)."

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