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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

K-State defense making many big plays

BY KELLIS ROBINETT
The Wichita Eagle

MANHATTAN — Kansas State defenders are getting used to beginning football games with big plays.

In three of the Wildcats' first six games, a member of K-State's secondary has created an advantage with an interception.

David Garrett and Nigel Malone jumped in front of passes near the sideline and returned them for touchdowns. Ty Zimmerman frustrated Missouri quarterback James Franklin by picking off his first pass.

Those plays have carried over to other parts of the game, and K-State has proven itself as one of the most opportunistic defenses around. The Wildcats rank 11th nationally in turnover margin, thanks to 10 interceptions and three fumble recoveries. That's a trend they hope to continue today against Kansas.

"Coaches just put us in position to make plays," said Malone, a junior cornerback. "We just want to come out and play fast. You can't predict turnovers. They just happen. But that's something that our defense has come out and made happen."

K-State has made several improvements to its defense, and the capability to create turnovers is one.

More times than not, K-State has thrived in sudden-change situations. K-State has excelled after its offense turns the ball over and the opposing team wants to quickly capitalize on a change in momentum.

A week ago, Tysyn Hartman grabbed a key second-half interception moments after K-State had turned the ball over on downs. Arthur Brown's only interception came late against Baylor and ultimately was the turning point of a come-from- behind victory.

"It's something that we are good at," Malone said. "You look at sudden change, we know they're going to do something tricky to keep their momentum up."

Check Kellis Robinett's K-State blog at blogs.kansas.com/kstated. Reach him at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com.

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