I’m sure you read the quote by West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen this week leading up to the matchup against Kansas.
When asked about the fact the Kansas defense had eight players with interceptions, Holgorsen said “That’s the Rutgers factor.”
Holgorsen is right that Kansas has played a couple of turnover-happy teams in Rutgers and Central Michigan. But the Jayhawks have also taken full advantage of the opportunities. So it was only fitting that following the comments, the Kansas defense goes up against a Heisman candidate in Will Grier and picks him off three times.
Kansas now has 11 interceptions on the year, which is the third most through the first six games of any KU team since 2000.
Only the 2004 and 2007 teams have compiled more interceptions in the first six games, each picking off 12 through the halfway point of the regular season. This team may be one shy of those, but it has done more with the 11 it has—racking up 248 return yards and three touchdowns while the other two had just one touchdown from those picks.
The question now is how long the 2018 defense can keep this pace up. But even if the turnovers fall off the next month and a half, the production is already better than most recent seasons. Kansas hasn’t had 11 interceptions in a full season since 2013, and the 2018 squad is already tied with the 2000 and 2012 teams for 10th most picks in a season since 2000. Kansas only needs four more interceptions for the rest of the year to have the third-best mark behind 2004 and 2007.
What’s even more impressive this year is the fact that the interceptions have come from 10 different defenders. The 2007 squad had 23 interceptions for the season coming from 11 defenders, while 2004 had 19 picks from eight players. Against West Virginia, it was Hasan Defense who stepped up with his best game of the season.
Not only did Defense become the ninth Jayhawk to record an interception—Davon Ferguson was the 10th—he was great in the red zone and jumped all over a couple of Grier passes. Defense hadn’t been talked about a ton leading up to this game, but the sophomore has been solid again, on pace for more tackles and interceptions than last year.
This is promising, because if Kansas’ defense regresses slightly in its turnover rate next season, the secondary is in good hands with Defense and Corione Harris at corner.