September 17, 2006

Analysis: Defense steals show for Cats

Following Kansas State's 23-7 victory over Marshall on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, K-State coach Ron Prince quickly summed up the highlight of the contest. "I couldn't say enough positive things about our defense. For two weeks in a 2row to basically have no points scored against them, that's the kind of defense we want to play."

The defense was indeed the giant positive in the team's performance, and the biggest reason the Wildcats weren't challenged by the Thundering Herd for most of the game, but the glowing positives also ended there.

For the first time in the young season, the unbeaten Wildcats, now 3-0, met their match in special teams. The offense, meanwhile, continues to search for itself, a trend that must end if K-State wants to maximize its winning opportunities over the next nine weeks.

The message was clear from Saturday: A dominant defense may indeed be back at K-State under the direction of coordinator Raheem Morris. After that, though, everything outside of another victory seemed all too foggy. It's time to assess how the Cats graded out on their pregame Keys to Victory.

Ahmad Bradshaw, Marshall's shifty and powerful running back, came into the game averaging 111 yards, but picked up only 55 against the Wildcats. Furthermore, Bradshaw's nine carries included a 21-yard scamper in the fourth quarter when the Cats were thinking the Herd would try to rally with its passing game. Without that run, Bradshaw averaged a just four yards a carry.

K-State made it a point to swarm Bradshaw early and often, and by getting physical with him. "They were a solid team with big guys up front and a good running back, but everybody kept running to the football," K-State defensive end Ian Campbell said.

K-State's ability to contain Bradshaw was a positive to Prince, although he noted it almost always took multiple defenders to bring down the junior running back.

"Bradshaw is a very good running back," Prince said. "If you noticed his build, he is the same build that all the really good ones have. He's short, compact and very quick, but he's supple. He has tremendous contact balance, which all of the great ones have."

Overall, it was a very good effort by the Wildcat defenders.


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