Anudike-Uzomah revives Wildcat Defensive Legacy

It is important to stay true to who you are. Before you can do that, you must understand who you are. Who are you? How do you operate? What makes you tick? What works well? What doesn’t? Do you have the fundamentals to be successful at your endeavor? These are questions we all must ask ourselves. Successful head coaches must ask these questions of not only themselves, but of the organization they are tasked to lead.

Coach Chris Klieman believes in fundamentally sound football. He believes in cultivating a strong-minded quarterback under center. He believes in strong defense. In short, Coach Klieman has an identity that he wishes his team to embody. The first three games of the season they executed his vision well. Then they lost three conference games in a row. They were in all three games. However, they broke down in their fundamentals at key moments in those games and lost. When there is a deficiency in talent, you must fall back on your fundamentals. KSU has got back to the basics the last two weeks, earning wins against the Red Raiders and the Horned Frogs.

Gary Patterson led his Horned Frogs back to his alma mater hoping to bring his team to .500. The Wildcats had other ideas. Specifically, the KSU defense had other ideas. The only touchdown TCU scored was on the KSU 2nd and 3rd team with less than 90 seconds to go in the game. The Wildcat defensive line dominated the game…thanks to one man in particular.

History matters to a man…at least it should. History matters to a college football program. Since the days of Bill Snyder, KSU has had a history of suffocating defense and a power run game. Like all things in history, times pass, and things change. Yet, it is important to remember where your organization has been. It is important to remember the men that came before you, who wore the jersey, and represented the team in the best and hardest of times.

Wildcat football history is slowly coming back to Manhattan. Felix Anudike-Uzomah set a school record on Saturday, sacking the TCU quarterbacks six times and forcing two fumbles. Yes, I said quarterbacks. He effectively knocked Max Duggan out of the game with his fourth sack and first forced fumble. He continued to terrorize the backup freshman chasing him all over the field, tackling him several times, sacking him once, and forcing another fumble. Uzomah is a one-man wrecking crew and he is only a sophomore! He is exciting to watch. He reminds me of the days of Percell Gaskins, Dirk Ochs, Darren Howard, and Joe Bob Clements. All four of these defenders terrorized Big 12 Quarterbacks during their tenures at KSU. One of them went on to have a pro-bowl career in the NFL. Uzomah is walking into the land of giants while becoming one himself. With his six sacks in Saturday’s game, he set a KSU and Big 12 record. He tied a NCAA record. He is sparking the memory of yester year.

The KSU offense had a solid day. Skylar Thompson is looking stronger every week as he recovers from his seemingly season ending injury he suffered over a month ago. Deuce got loose a couple of times. Once for a touchdown…once for a long run which was called back due to an uncharacteristic hold on the offensive line. Deuce ended the day with 158 yards total and two rushing touchdowns. 109 of those yards were on the ground. Thompson’s experience is evident. He finds the open receiver. He makes good choices. Late in the 3rd quarter, he found the streaking journeyman tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe for a 73-yard touchdown sealing the game win for KSU. The Wildcats are Imatorbhebhe’s fourth team. He maximized his opportunity on Saturday.

All in all, KSU is headed in the right direction. As I pointed out last week, this team needs more talent. However, Coach Klieman has his team focused on the fundamentals allowing the Wildcats to win the games they should. Fundamental football beats undisciplined talent every time.

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