Kansas State University

Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill presents daunting challenge for K-State defense

K-State DC Scottie Hazelton breaks down Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill

K-State DC Scottie Hazelton breaks down Mississippi State's Kylin Hill
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K-State DC Scottie Hazelton breaks down Mississippi State's Kylin Hill

Kansas State football players remember Kylin Hill for all the wrong reasons.

Hill, a junior Mississippi State running back, made K-State defenders look silly when he rushed for 211 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries last season. And that was just what he did on the ground. He also caught a 16-yard touchdown pass. He wasn’t the only reason the Bulldogs beat the Wildcats 31-10 a year ago, but he was perhaps the biggest reason.

As much as things have changed since then for both teams, one thing remains the same as they prepare for Saturday’s rematch at Wade Davis Stadium: All eyes will be on Hill.

“He’s a great player,” K-State coach Chris Klieman said. “It’s fun to watch him. Hopefully it’s not going to be fun to watch him live, but he’s tremendous. Just seeing the way that he runs — he breaks tackles, he beats you with speed, he’s a great jump-cut guy. He does everything, and they’re giving him the ball enough to make plays. I know that he’s going to be a focal point to what we are doing on defense to try and slow him down.”

Nothing K-State tried worked against Hill last season. He averaged 12.4 yards per run and broke loose for even bigger gains at times, including one for 52 yards.

Teams haven’t found much luck stopping Hill this year, either. He currently leads all SEC rushers with 320 yards and two touchdowns. His average run is going for 9.7 yards.

The Wildcats limited their first two opponents to 102.5 yards per game, but neither Nicholls nor Bowling Green had a running back like Hill.

K-State safeties coach Joe Klanderman says he’s never studied a better ball-carrier up close.

“This guy is a special talent,” he said. “It’s going to take everything we’ve got to get him on the ground.”

Hill is difficult to tackle in space. Returning K-State defenders Wyatt Hubert, Kyle Ball and Denzel Goolsby can attest to that. All three of them were in excellent positions to stop Hill at times last year and failed to do so.

That’s why K-State defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton is hoping to create a numbers advantage against Hill whenever he runs the ball.

After what happened the last time K-State encountered Hill, stopping him is the main priority.

“We really have to rally to the ball,” Hazelton said. “I don’t know how many times he is going to drop with just one shot, that is for sure. It’s about everyone else getting to the ball, too. Hopefully we can give good effort and knock him down and limit his yards after contact, because he is a guy who is really good.”

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