Kendall Adams at right place, right time for K-State defense

Kansas State defensive back Kendall Adams has 25 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery in four games. (Emily DeShazer/The Capital-Journal)

MANHATTAN — In his postgame press conference Saturday, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was asked about quarterback Jesse Ertz sliding and how much he practices it at the end of his running plays.

 

“We don’t practice sliding, that’s another sport,” Snyder said.

Pardon another baseball comparison, but Kendall Adams could be called K-State’s closer, even though he’s not coming out of the bullpen.

The junior free safety was involved in two crucial plays that helped the Wildcats close out a 33-20 victory over Baylor, clearing the way for a teammate to make a fumble recovery then intercepting a pass to end the Bears’ final possession.

“I hope I can keep that going,” Adams said.

The Wildcats’ 20-3 halftime lead had been cut to 20-13 and Baylor had the ball at its 43 with a third-and-1 late in the third quarter when a high shotgun snap sailed over the head of quarterback Zach Smith.

“I was down on the line of scrimmage on the tight end and I saw the ball fly over his head,” Adams said. “I was going to go try to make a play and I see the quarterback and somebody else coming so I just pushed the quarterback to keep the ball loose for somebody else to get it.”

That was defensive end Kyle Ball, who recovered on the BU 14 and set up Ertz’s 15-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to pad K-State’s lead to 27-13.

“There were a lot of us running for the ball,” said Ball. “Their receiver tried to pick it up and Kendall hit him. I was there at the right time to fall on it. That was a huge play.”

Baylor once again closed to within seven points before two Matthew McCrane field goals — he made four in the game — provided the 13-point final margin.

With Baylor’s big-play ability – the Bears had second-half touchdowns on a 74-yard run and 70-yard pass — the Wildcats weren’t in the clear until Adams’ interception with 2:44 remaining, enabling the Cats to run out the clock.

“They ran that route combination earlier in the drive and they got a pretty good gain,” said Adams, who had eight tackles in the game. “I saw that play starting to look a lot like that one so I just trusted my instincts and stepped in front of it.

“It shows some bounce-back that I have because I gave up some plays today. I try to keep my confidence up and keep playing to the next play. I think that shows the short memory you have to have to play defensive back, especially in the Big 12.”

Adams returned an interception and a fumble for touchdowns against Charlotte and was named Big 12 defensive player of the week, and in the Vanderbilt game he had a fumble return for a touchdown negated by a video review that ruled the runner down before losing the ball.

“It’s ironic to a certain degree that week after week after week that he’s made a substantial play in the ballgame,” Snyder said. “Two of the three counted. His experience helps him a great deal but it comes from being in the right place at the right time. Those guys who have been around for a while and really get into it can process information a little bit faster than others, and he’s at that point where he’s processing information pretty quickly and consequently he can get to places a little faster.”

Through four games, Adams is tied for second on the team with 25 tackles (20 unassisted) with two interceptions and one fumble recovery.

“Coach Snyder and coach Hayes (Tom, defensive coordinator) definitely preach trying to force turnovers,” Adams said. “I’ve gotten lucky to get a couple of fumbles to fall in my lap. As far as the interceptions, I can definitely say just from practice it’s making the game slow down.”

The Wildcat defense slowed down in the second half. Baylor managed only 80 total yards the first half (70 passing, 10 rushing) but put up 295 (221 passing, 74 rushing) in the second half.

“We anticipated, which has been their calling card, but they played us one way in the first half both offensively and defensively and gave us a completely different set of looks in the second half,” Snyder said. “They were focused on running the ball the first half so we didn’t give up very much in the passing game but in the second half we gave up way too many throws. They played with four wideouts and spread us out a little and we probably played a little tentative, as well. That’s something we still have to work on.”

Adams said the defense got “lax” in the second half.

“Coach Snyder is definitely going to address that so I’m ready to hear about that in the meetings,” he said. “We just kind of relaxed and we can’t let that happen again.”

The Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 Big 12) have work to do on both sides of the ball as they prepare to face Texas (2-2, 1-0) at 6 p.m. Saturday in Austin, a game of high importance for Fort Worth native Adams, one of 23 Texans on the K-State roster.

“I grew up a Longhorns fan so this is definitely a big one for me every year,” Adams said.


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


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