Preview to the Position Previews

28 Aug

Kansas State’s football season opener is almost here, and so it’s time to go over who you’ll be likely to see on the field Saturday night against Eastern Kentucky. To keep the conversation going all the way up until game time, here’s a brief overview of what the Wildcats have in each position on the field. In the next few days, we will dig a little deeper and look at who the favorites are for the more competitive positions this season. But for now, here’s the general outlook:

  • QUARTERBACK – I don’t see head coach Bill Snyder setting anything in stone as to who the starter is, but what I’m hearing is that there is not much dispute that Collin Klein will be the one at the helm this season. Justin Tuggle and Sammuel Lamur also competed for the spot, but it seems to be all wrapped up. (For why I think that is wonderful for the Wildcats, check back here on Monday.)
  • RUNNING BACK – Despite the whole missing-summer-practices fiasco, I would guess that Tennessee transfer Bryce Brown will still start here. However, when Snyder is invariably asked the question in the upcoming press conference, I will – hopefully – be able to give a more precise report on whether or not he leads the pack, which also includes John Hubert, Robert Rose, DeMarcus Robinson and Angelo Pease.
  • FULLBACK and TIGHT END – Though it made seem odd to group these positions together, I see these players as the ones who do an awful lot of essential blocking and don’t get to touch the football very often. So, basically I’m separating them from others in this list just to give them a little credit. Anyway, Braden Wilson will be the big man at fullback, and Travis Tannahill is probably the go-to tight end.
  • RECEIVER – Chris Harper is back, and so are Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson, who were developing good on-field chemistry with then-quarterback Carson Coffman until they suffered season-ending injuries around the halfway point of the season. Maybe one player people are most interested to see is one whose name evokes many good memories for longer-tenured Wildcat fans: freshman Tyler Lockett is the son of Kansas State all-time leading receiver Kevin Lockett and nephew of Aaron Lockett, No. 4 on the all-time receiving list.
  • OFFENSIVE LINE – For many, it is going to be a bit strange to have the quarterback protected by guys who don’t have the names “Weibert,” “Mayfield,” and “Kendall” across the backs of their jerseys. Quite frankly, it’s a little nerve-wracking to realize that both the center and the guard spots will be newcomers to the team – but then, turnover of players is the norm in college sports. (For more on the O-line, check back later in the week).
  • LINEBACKER – This might be one of the team’s strongest areas. Of course, that hypothesis is predicated on the success of Tennessee transfer Arthur Brown, who has yet to actually play for the Wildcats in a game. That his teammates elected him a captain, though, and that Snyder has spoken highly of him, are certainly good signs. (More on this promising group on Monday!)
  • SECONDARY – With Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman at the safety spots, the Wildcats should be able to prevent opponents from getting those killer big plays that Snyder so dislikes to give up. David Garrett, who led the team in tackles last season, will return as a cornerback, and junior college transfers are competing for the other cornerback spot. Tom Hayes is the first-year coach for this group. (Again, hopefully I will have an update on this later in the week.)
  • DEFENSIVE LINE – Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry are the only seasoned veterans in the vicinity, but several junior college players that will be on the ends of the line look like they could make an early impact. Last season the Wildcats’ defense was one of the worst in the country, and these guys are the first line of defense (no pun intended, but since it’s there, I’ll go ahead and leave it) for keeping that from happening again. More on this crew later.
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