Alabama Football: Kansas State Defensive Preview

Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama Football will take the field one last time in 2022 when it takes on Kansas State in the Sugar Bowl. Bryce Young and other members of the offense may be donning Alabama uniforms for the last time. How will they fare against the Wildcats?

Kansas State has been subpar defensively this season, but employs a bend-don’t-break style that has been successful at keeping opposing offenses out of the end zone. For the season, K-State is 54th in the FBS in total defense, allowing 365.8 yards per game. Despite giving up lots of yardage, the Wildcats rank 18th in the country in scoring defense (20.1 points per game).

They are fairly average against the pass, giving up 216.9 yards per game in 2022 (53rd). If Bryce Young is truly healthy and can deliver a similar performance to his Iron Bowl showing, Alabama football should be just fine.

This game will provide an opportunity for Bama’s pared down receiving corps, with four transfer departures out of the picture. Jermaine Burton and Ja’Corey Brooks should enjoy featured roles, and could showcase their talent in New Orleans. A trio of freshmen in Kobe Prentice, Isaiah Bond, and Kendrick Law have a major opportunity to make a statement as well.

Kansas State is even worse against the run. They rank 64th in rushing defense at 148.9 yards per game, and 88th nationally giving up 4.3 yards per carry. Alabama’s running game has been hit-or-miss this season, but the offensive line should be refreshed and revamped for this game.

Running backs Jahmyr Gibbs and Jase McClellan have had standout games at different times, and could finally flex their muscle as a tandem. If all else fails, Alabama should be able to run the ball and lean on Kansas State, as they did to Cincinnati last season.

Alabama Football vs K-State Defensive Personnel

In Kansas State’s 3-3-5 defensive alignment, the Wildcats are undersized but aggressive in the box. Junior linebacker Austin Moore leads Kansas State with 85 tackles, and has 10.0 tackles for loss on the season.

Junior defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah is the most disruptive player on the K-State defense, and one of the best pass rushers in the nation. He leads the Wildcats with 11.0 tackles for loss and 8.0 sacks. Anudike-Uzomah, like Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr., was even better last year as a sophomore. He has tallied 95 tackles, 26.5 TFLs, 20.5 sacks, and eight forced fumbles in his career. He will be a handful for the Tide’s offensive tackles.

The Wildcats have a couple playmakers on the back end, but the secondary has been gutted by injuries in recent weeks. Veteran safeties Josh Hayes and Drake Cheatum are tied for second on the team in tackles, and both are capable of forcing turnovers. Senior cornerback Julius Brents is an imposing presence at 6’4”. Brents has been a solid cover corner and has shown ball-hawking tendencies, snagging a team-high four interceptions.

Against Bryce Young and the Alabama passing attack, Kansas State could feel the absence of defensive backs Kobe Savage and Cincere Mason. Both Savage and Mason are experienced players who notched three interceptions apiece before suffering late season injuries.

The Kansas State defense is disciplined and well-coached. They will have Alabama’s offense thoroughly scouted, and they will play hard and smart. That being said, they are physically outmatched in several spots on the field. The loss of two of their best defensive backs could be a difference-maker in this game. The Crimson Tide should be able to use a balanced offensive approach and capitalize on mismatches.

Next. Kansas State Offensive Preview. dark

If Alabama Football avoids senseless turnovers, it is difficult to envision Kansas State holding this offense to less than 35 points.