K-State defense looks to step up pass rush against Vanderbilt

Kansas State linebacker Trent Tanking (58) wraps up Iowa State running back DeVondrick Nealy (20) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Justin Hayworth)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Questions surrounded the Kansas State defense entering the season, particularly at the linebacker positions.


The rushing defense had a shaky first half against Central Arkansas but made adjustments and improved as the game progressed, and last week turned in a strong performance by limiting Charlotte to 168 total yards.

The defense became defensive about the doubters.

“Yeah, but it’s because we know we can stop it,” linebacker Trent Tanking said. “We knew we could stop it so it was just a matter of figuring out the keys we needed to read. We did a great job of that (against Charlotte).

“I think we’re headed in the right direction and we feel very confident.”

Coach Bill Snyder saw improvement from the opening game to the 55-7 victory over Charlotte.

“What was important to me was we came out defensively and got three consecutive three-and-outs, which has been a little bit of a nemesis,” Snyder said. “We were good on third down (UC was 4 of 15). The score we gave up was the result of a miserable play on our special teams (set up by 66-yard kickoff return).”

The No. 18 Wildcats (2-0) will find out how much progress they’ve made against Vanderbilt (2-0) at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The Commodores roll out a balanced offense behind quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who has passed for 498 yards and seven touchdowns in two games, and running back Ralph Webb, the school’s career rushing leader.

“He’s a good decision-maker,” Wildcat strong safety Denzel Goolsby said of Shurmur. “He knows where he wants to go with the ball and he doesn’t necessarily stare down his receivers. Getting pressure on him is something we have to do.

“Their running back is great and they have a lot of options at receiver they can go to, so they are well balanced. It’s an SEC team so we know we have to step up to play under the big lights.”

It starts with getting pressure on Shurmur. The Wildcats have four sacks in two games but have faced option quarterbacks rather than pocket passers.

“We have to improve our pass rush,” Snyder said. “Right now, we’re not as good a pass rush team as we were last year. The sacks don’t always equate. We can look at the sack numbers when we get down the road another five or six games. The important thing for me is are we pressuring the quarterback, and I don’t think we’re pressuring him as much as in the past. We need to be improved in that area.”


When/Where: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.

Records: Kansas State (2-0), Vanderbilt (2-0)

Line: K-State by 3 1/2

TV/Radio: ESPNU/ WIBW (580)

Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.



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