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UCLA Football Preview: Kansas State Defensive Preview

In Part 3 of the Kansas St. preview, we take a look at the Kansas State defense.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

This Kansas State Wildcats group will be one of the better defenses that UCLA has faced this season. Not in terms of talent, though they did have 5 defensive players on either the 1st or 2nd All-Big 12 Conference team. But, by the vast majority of measurable team defensive metrics, this is a good defensive football team.

The Kansas State defense was ranked 26th in the NCAA in scoring defense (22.3 points per game). The Wildcats are also one of the best teams in the country in red zone scoring (allowing points on 75.56% of redzone possession, 21st in the NCAA).

In yards per game, they're 33rd nationally (367.4 yards per game), 47th in yards per play (5.2),

They randomly struggle on stopping opponents on 3rd down, just 94th in the nation (42.95%)

Defensive Line

This unit featured a 2-time 1st Team All-Big-12 player in senior Randy Mueller (6'2", 245). He had 9.5 TFLs and 5.5 sacks on the year.

Aside from Mueller there was a 4 sack performance from defensive end Jordan Willis. This is a deep unit, but not a star-studded one. Or one that is overly effective at rushing the passer as Kansas State rated towards the bottom nationally in sacks per game.

Linebackers

The Kansas State defense is generally a 4-2-5, so they can sacrifice size at the LB spot in favor of speed for matchup purposes.

The one constant was the leading tackler, senior Jonathan Truman (5'11", 219). He 114 tackles on the season, 41 more than any other member of the Wildcats.

The Big-12 Defensive Freshman of the Year freshman Elijah Lee is the headliner of the group aside from Truman, but he is more of a pass rusher than a true linebacker, registering 4.5 sacks on the year.

Will Davis and Dakorey Johnson split the starts at the other spot, combining for 86 tackles and 10 TFLs on the season.

Secondary

This is a strength of the Kansas State defense, featuring a 1st Team All-Big-12 player and two 2nd team All-Big-12 players.

The 2nd teamers are juniors Dante Barnett and Danzel McDaniel. Both are good sized defenders at 6'1" and 186 pounds and 205 pounds, respectively. Barnett was 2nd on the team in tackles with 73, had 3 interceptions and broke up 11 passes. McDaniel had 55 stops, 5 tackles for loss and an interception in 2014.

The 1st teamer is senior Randall Evans, who had a stellar year with 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 13 passes defender.

They also had Morgan Burns intercept 3 passes and break up 9 passes on the year. Those 4 players started 47 out of 48 games for the Wildcats, so it is an experienced group that has a ton of game reps as a unit.

The UCLA offense will have a talent advantage across the board, but it will be interesting to see how they game plan against a team that is pretty strong against both the run and pass, but without much of a pass rush and a tendency to struggle on 3rd downs.

Go Bruins!