Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Defense Key for K-State ; Wildcat Secondary Gets Boost with Return of Barnett

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Defense Key for K-State ; Wildcat Secondary Gets Boost with Return of Barnett

Article excerpt

MANHATTAN -- The numbers were not good.

In the 2015 football season, Kansas State ranked No. 9 in the Big 12 Conference in pass defense, No. 7 in scoring defense and No. 6 in total defense.

"Statistics don't tell you the whole story but they give you some hints," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "We were quite a ways down the list in the significant statistical analysis, but by the same token we were likewise on offense, as well."

The Wildcat defense gave up 452.2 yards a game, 285.5 passing, and 31.5 points game. Bringing down those numbers is a major emphasis during spring practice.

"We are extremely motivated," said linebacker Will Davis. "Our defensive mantra throughout the winter conditioning is to be the best. Not better than last year, but the best and doing everything 100 percent. That is the idea we have taken into spring ball."

Injuries played a part in the Wildcats' troubles last season, resulting in a 6-7 record. Most notably for the defense was the loss of senior strong safety Dante Barnett in the first half of the opening game.

"There were a lot of issues," Snyder said. "I think the biggest one was losing Dante, who is the leader of our defense. He's a very fine player and plays a prominent role in some other areas, as well, and that created some issues for us.

"He's back (granted a medical hardship) and he's playing well. He has great anticipation and he has a great insight into the game and is a good leader on the field."

The return of Barnett will strengthen a secondary that lost starting cornerbacks Morgan Burns and Danzel McDaniel, who missed the final eight games due to injury.

The positive aspect of the injuries was the experience gained by younger players such as true freshman cornerback Duke Shelley as well as nickelback Donnie Starks and safeties Sean Newlan and Kendall Adams. That could go a long way toward improving the pass defense. …

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