K-State's defensive line working overtime to improve performance




The Wichita Eagle

MANHATTAN (MCT) — Film sessions for the Kansas State football team last, on average, between an hour and an hour-and-a-half.

It's a pretty routine process — position groups enter a room with their specific coach, somebody hits the lights and they look over all of the plays from the previous game. It's not always pleasant, but it's a very cut-and-dried way of evaluating who played well and who didn't.

Sometimes, though, it can get ugly.

"It was the final play of our game last year, against Texas," Kansas State defensive end Ryan Mueller said. "And the effort was ... not good. We were as tired as we've ever been, and we must've watched that play, over and over again, for the last 30 minutes. Joe Bob (Clements) would rewind, fast forward and we'd watch it again. It wasn't pretty."

The Wildcats won that game 17-13, but the lesson learned from that day in the film room stuck with the trio of returning defensive ends — Adam Davis, Meshak Williams and Mueller. There would never be a time where Clements, the defensive ends coach, or coach Bill Snyder would accept anything but their maximum effort.

"When we were running and working out this summer and got really, really tired, Adam, Meshak or I, one of us would bring up that play," Mueller said. "And then we'd keep working."

That hard work was on full display in Saturday's 52-13 win over Miami in Manhattan. The Wildcats piled up five sacks — two from Davis — and two fumble recoveries, including one by Mueller.

K-State (2-0) moved up to No. 15 in the Associated Press poll and faces North Texas (1-1) on Saturday in Manhattan.

"How many sacks equals a win?" Snyder asked. "I don't know because we haven't been that effective in that phase of the game as we'd like to be. But this last game, we played with more spirit, passion and enthusiasm and that equates into greater effort."

That effort is paramount to any success up front because of what the Wildcats lack in another department — size. Davis is 6-foot, 240 pounds. Mueller is 6-1, 240 pounds. Williams is a little taller at 6-3, but not much heavier at 245 pounds.

"I was pleased with 98 percent of Adam's game last week, with how hard he played," Snyder said. "Not only did he make some plays, he played hard. He has some capabilities as a reasonably talented young guy, but you have to put the effort with it and I was proud of him."

The Mean Green, trying for its first 2-1 start since 1994, averages 214 yards per game on the ground and 288 yards passing. Right tackle Coleman Feeley, at 6-5 and 287 pounds, is the only starting offensive lineman under 300 pounds. Sophomore left tackle Antonio Johnson has NFL size (6-6, 311).

"Anytime you're getting sacks, fumble recoveries and tackles for loss that can fuel a defense, big-time," Mueller said. "That happened a lot last Saturday."

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