MANHATTAN — Kansas State did not need any defensive touchdowns Saturday.
Charlotte, a Conference-USA opponent playing just its fifth season of football, was completely outmanned. With 493 yards overall and touchdowns on each of the first two possessions, the No. 19 Wildcats pasted the 49ers 55-7 in Snyder Family Stadium.
Still, do not dare suggest to the K-State defense that it should forget about scoring.
Since 1999, K-State leads the nation in non-offensive touchdowns, and defense plays a part.
Anyone curious about what was so special in 1999, and why the non-offensive scoring derby is first associated with that season, was offered a reminder in Saturday’s rout.
Junior free safety Kendall Adams scored touchdowns off returns of an interception and a fumble. The last Wildcat to pull off that one-two salvo was Dyshod Carter. Uh, in 1999.
“We definitely expect to score,’’ Adams said. “Coach (Bill) Snyder has been preaching to us to look for turnovers, force turnovers, be aggressive to the ball and stripping the ball. In practice when we go against the scouts, we practice intercepting the ball and have guys go out and block for them.’’
In the Wildcats’ season opener, Adams was a bit too eager serving in that capacity.
He collided with D.J. Reed after the K-State cornerback snagged an interception and spoiled a potentially big return.
With one swipe and one recovery against Charlotte resulting in two touchdowns, Adams did not bother bragging to Reed about his fortuitous breaks.
“I didn’t give him a hard time,’’ Adams said. “He could have thrown it back on me for accidentally tackling him.’’
The interception by Adams was in the flat on a ball that should not have been thrown. He sailed 30 yards for an easy touchdown.
The fumble return came after a ball appeared as if it may have been passed forward and deflected off a Charlotte receiver. A review of the play, however, upheld Adams’ alert runback covering 46 yards.
“I couldn’t really tell. I just saw it was borderline,’’ Adams said of the ruled lateral. “We’re coached to pick those up anyway and let the officials sort it out. It worked out this time.’’
Not for Charlotte, which was playing a Power Five opponent for just the third time after also suffering lopsided defeats at Kentucky in 2015 and Louisville in 2016.
“We have to really look where we are placing the ball,’’ said Charlotte coach Brad Lambert, who played for the Cats in the mid-1980s and was impressed by the K-State environment.
“You cannot give up two touchdowns on the road against a top-20 team. We had a lateral pass that went for a score and we did not get any turnovers, so the turnover margin really hurt us.’’
Kansas State obviously wants to steadily build that advantage after leading the Big 12 with a plus-13 advantage in turnovers last season.
Given that an SEC road test exists next week at Vanderbilt, questions still remain whether the Cats have overcome the loss of defensive stalwarts such as Jordan Willis, Elijah Lee and Dante Barnett.
Within the secondary, the advice provided by Barnett, a player who was in the program for six seasons, helped shape the current group.
Redshirt freshman A.J. Parker even stepped in for starter Duke Shelley and was credited with a team-high two breakups against Charlotte. Linebacker Cre Moore also grabbed an interception.
“We definitely miss (Barnett),’’ said Adams, “but he left me, as well as the rest of the defensive backs, with plenty of knowledge … enough stuff to get through.’’
Enough to stifle the 49ers, who averaged 2.3 yards on 25 pass attempts. Their lone touchdown came after a long kickoff return left 19 yards to navigate.
“The score we gave up was the result of special teams,’’ K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “I thought special teams took a step back.’’
As far as the return game, though, K-State got in the end zone with defense. In particular, Adams.
His two scores raised the Cats’ total of non-offensive touchdowns to 109 … since 1999, of course.
That year, Carter was a junior and began the season by beating out an impressive freshman named Terence Newman. Eventually they played together in the K-State secondary and each played too in the NFL.
No need to jump to any such predictions regarding the K-State DBs this year.
Confidence, however, is gained when a defender finds the end zone. For Adams, the touchdowns were his first since playing for a two-time Texas state high school champion growing up in Fort Worth.
“That’s one of our goals every year, to score on defense,’’ linebacker Trent Tanking said. “To do it twice, we take pride in that because we want to help out the offense. Being able to prove that is big-time for us.’’
Contact Kevin Haskin at email@example.com or @KevinHaskin on Twitter.