After three games into the season this Kansas defense has everyone in the nation paying attention and with eyes wide open.
It’s true these more than impressive outings have come against bottom of the barrel FBS teams and inexperienced quarterbacks, but these are teams they probably don’t beat last year.
In the years proceeding under Head Coach David Beaty and Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen the Kansas total defense has ranked 128th of 128 teams (2015), 105th of 128 teams (2016), and 118th of 130 teams (2017). Not good.
But through three games into the season this year they rank 32nd of 130 teams.
Let that settle in for a moment.
The crazy thing is that Kansas fans expected improvement. But the truth is we expected some improvements, we didn’t expect this much improvement.
|Total Defense||128th of 128||105th of 128||118th of 130||32nd of 130|
|Pass Defense||125th of 128||52nd of 128||126th of 130||25th of 130|
|Rush Defense||125th of 128||114th of 128||71st of 130||70th of 130|
|Sacks||65th of 128||54th of 128||92nd of 130||117th of 130|
|Interceptions||92nd of 128||68th of 128||125th of 130||2nd of 130|
|Defensive Efficiency||115th of 128||61st of 128||110th of 130||19th of 130|
|Turnover Margin||97th of 128||126th of 128||126th of 130||1st of 130|
The most impressive stat is the turnover margin. Two years in a row they ranked 126th, which wasn’t far from last.
This year? First. And not by a close margin either. They currently sit at a +12 with the next closest team being at a +8.
This alone explains why Kansas has been so dominate in their previous two games. When you force turnovers you create opportunities for your offense to score. And most of those opportunities will end up being in favorable field position.
By watching game film you can even tell what root of the success is. It’s their positioning. The players are playing smart and they’re throwing different schemes at the opposing offenses that’s hard for them to pick up.
It’s not just a few of the players, either. Seven of the Kansas defenders have interceptions. SEVEN! No other Big 12 team has more than three players with an interception.
It’s obvious the team has bought in on Bowen’s defensive scheme and it’s showing. And per Scott Chasen’s recent article on 247 Sports that’s who the players and Beaty give all the credit to. Rightfully so.
But even with the success of the pass defense there are some things that do need improvement. Kansas needs to put more pressure on the QB and get sacks. They also need to be stronger against the run as they’re ranked 70th of 130 teams. All of these things will come with time, though, and I have faith they’ll get stronger as the year goes on.
It’s also worth pointing out that Kansas’ strength of schedule through three games per Sagarin is dead last in the Big 12. It helps when they’re playing inferior teams, but again these are still stats they don’t get in Beaty’s previous three years.
And it helps with the team’s confidence, too. The competition may not be what it will be in the Big 12 but this team believes they can carry it forward into conference play. And believing is a big part of it.
Either way this Defense has definitely improved and I’m excited to see how it translates into Big 12 play.
Fortunately for Kansas they start off conference play with Baylor. And even though it’s in Waco I think they can make some noise. If they handle their first true test of the season liked they’ve handled their last two opponents their defense might even carry them to a win.