Missouri football defense, specialists contain Kansas State's Banks

Saturday, November 14, 2009 | 6:46 p.m. CST; updated 9:12 p.m. CST, Saturday, November 14, 2009
Missouri defenders Kenji Jackson, left, Will Ebner, center, and Jasper Simmons, right, converge on Kansas State wide receiver Brandon Banks in Saturday's Tigers victory.

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Just one play by Kansas State wide receiver Brandon Banks got the Missouri Tigers' attention.

Following a Missouri field goal to open the game, players said they became frustrated when they allowed Banks to return the kickoff 34 yards to the Wildcats' 45-yard-line.

Those responsible for kickoff and punt coverage decided not to let that happen again.

"We just got on the sideline, we came together as a group, as a family," redshirt freshman cornerback Kip Edwards said. "We said it all together, we made a pact. 'We've got to contain this guy. So we're going to do whatever it takes to contain the guy and get the win.'"

On the punt that would follow, Missouri overreacted, hitting Banks before he had a chance to field the ball. That resulted in a 15-yard penalty.

But after that, the Tigers prevented Banks from breaking many big plays on their way to a 38-12 win. Banks had given Big 12 opponents problems in recent weeks with his pass-catching ability as a receiver and speed on receptions and returns.

Junior linebacker Andrew Gachkar, who also defended Banks on returns, was impressed with the Wildcat senior.

"A lot of game plans are built around that guy," he said. "At one point in the game, I was just saying to myself, 'This dude is so fast.'"

Gachkar said one time he attempted to close off an opening Banks sought for running room. "He just ran right by me," he said.

Early in the third quarter, sophomore cornerback Trey Hobson chased down Banks on a punt and wrestled him down for a two-yard loss.

"I could kind of read his eyes," Hobson said. "I could tell he wanted to field a punt real bad, so I just kept my eyes on him and grabbed him. He tried to run away and I'm glad he didn't. I'm glad I had enough speed to catch him."

Plays like that represent a positive development in consistent coverage, Edwards said.

"It feels pretty good, but then again we're still last in the Big 12 in kickoff coverage," he said. "That's got to change, because right now we're hurting the team. But today we were a plus. It was a positive."

Edwards said Banks' uses his size to his advantage as a receiver. Banks is five feet, seven inches and weighs only 150 pounds.

"Brandon Banks is a great player," he said. "He's speedy, he's little, he's hard to see behind the tackles and guards. He's behind (Missouri defensive linemen) Aldon (Smith) and Jacquies (Smith). They're 6-4 or 6-5."

Though Banks totaled 128 receiving yards, nearly half the total came on a long pass play in the fourth quarter when Missouri had built a wide lead.

Hobson said containing Banks and the rest of Kansas State's passing game made things better defensively than in previous weeks.

"When you stop the pass, you can easily limit teams to 12 points," he said. "As far as the secondary, we had a fun time today."

Edwards agreed.

"It was a whole lot more fun," he said. "We just played. We weren't doing that much thinking."

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