Tag Archives: John Hubert Kansas State

Big 12 Preview: Kansas State

31 Aug

As nice a person as he is, quarterback Collin Klein has no problem showing ferocity in his leadership on the football field, and that attitude will continue to permeate the team this season. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)

Overview: In 2011 the Wildcats’ total offense ranked ninth in the league, their defense fifth. Despite the numbers, and despite being picked to finish eighth in the league, Kansas State won 10 games. This year, I’ve seen the Wildcats picked to finish fifth or sixth in the Big 12. Maybe it is just because I attend Kansas State, but I think those predictions are much too safe.

Offense: The biggest offensive weapon for the Wildcats is quarterback Collin Klein, who scored 27 rushing touchdowns and 13 passing touchdowns in 2011. Those numbers moved him into the company of Heisman Trophy winners Cam Newton, Tim Tebow and Eric Crouch as one of just four college players to collect at least 20 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing scores in a single season. 85 percent of Kansas State touchdowns in 2011 included Klein.

In addition to him, the Wildcats return talented receivers in Chris Harper, Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett. Running back John Hubert is also back, along with center B.J. Finney. The sophomore center will be expected to take a leadership role on the line, where Kansas State is projected to start a pair of freshmen.

Coaches have said the Wildcats’ offense will be more versatile this season, using the passing game more effectively to keep opposing defenses off-balance. Klein added a caveat to that, however: whatever allows the team to win is what Kansas State will do.

Defense: The return of linebacker Arthur Brown is monstrous. He led the Wildcats with 101 tackles last season and is the heart and soul of the defense. He will defer that title, of course, if you ask him, which just makes him that much more of a leader for this unit. Tre Walker should also make an impact at the position. Coming back in the secondary are Nigel Malone and Ty Zimmerman, but the Wildcats will have to replace last season’s starters Tysyn Hartman and David Garrett. The defensive line boasts four seniors in tackles Vai Lutui and John Sua and ends Meshak Williams and Adam Davis.

This season the defense is under the direction of Tom Hayes, who was promoted to coordinator after coaching the secondary last season.

Special teams: Kansas State’s most under-appreciated unit is in good hands again this season. Placekicker Anthony Cantele and punter Ryan Doerr are both seniors. Lockett, though a sophomore, took two kickoff returns all the way last season, and Thompson, a junior, generally gets good yardage on his punt returns as well. Longsnapper Marcus Heit played in 12 games last season and was perfect on 128 snaps, continuing the tradition of excellence set by his predecessor Corey Adams, who signed with the Dallas Cowboys last summer.

Schedule: With a road game at Oklahoma slated as their Big 12 debut, the Wildcats may not go undefeated as long as they did last season. However, one way or another they will have two weeks before facing Kansas for their conference home opener. On Oct. 13 and 20 Kansas State has back-to-back road games against Iowa State and West Virginia, and following are home games against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. The Wildcats go to Texas for contests with TCU and Baylor, and then they finish up with Texas at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Projection: In 2011 I predicted eight wins for the Wildcats, and everyone said I was much too optimistic. I never saw any publication project even that number, and as it turns out, Kansas State and its 10-win season made even my guess look too conservative.

This season, I’ve projected a range of wins for each team in the league. For the Wildcats, my range would be eight to 10. Officially, I say 10. The Big 12 has some of the country’s best teams – six of them, if you believe preseason polls – so two losses would still be an extremely impressive year.

Wildcats finish 10-2 over Cyclones

3 Dec

Klein passes to a teammate during the first half. Photo: Orlin Wagner / AP

Again, the Wildcats won in dramatic fashion, finishing off Iowa State 30-23 and earning a 10-win season for the first time since 2003.

The quality of the play matched the quality of the weather early at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. In the first 10 minutes of the cold, rainy Senior Day game, Iowa State quarterback Jared Barnett fumbled a pair of snaps while Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein absorbed a pair of sacks.

With about five minutes left in the first quarter, though, Iowa State put points on the board first with a 30-yard flea-flicker from Barnett to Darius Darks.

“We were just executing,” Barnett said. “I don’t think K-State was expecting us to come out that way, and we just kind of took advantage of it, but then they definitely started catching on and made some adjustments.”

The Cyclones’ lead disappeared almost instantly. The Wildcats’ first play from scrimmage the next drive was a 68-yard bomb from Klein to Tramaine Thompson. It tied the game 7-7.

Shoddy tackling, however, allowed the Cyclones to run right back into the end zone. Duran Hollis took the ball 44 yards to give Iowa State a 13-7 lead. However, Kansas State’s Raphael Guidry blocked his fourth kick of the year to limit the deficit to six.

A 37-yard field goal by Anthony Cantele put the Wildcats within three points of the Cyclones, and a series of mistake-laden drives by both teams ensued. Iowa State had to punt after consecutive false starts. Kansas State had to kick it away after a failed lateral on third down, and the Cyclones went three-and-out for the first time.

With the clock winding down in the first half, Kansas State drove down the field on the strength of 17-yard catch by tight end Travis Tannahill, a 14-yard reception by Hubert, a 10-yard run by Klein and another 14-yard catch by running back John Hubert.

The drive culminated in the least surprising play of the season – a one-yard rushing touchdown by Klein. Cantele’s extra point gave the Wildcats a 17-13 lead going into halftime.

After Kansas State went three-and-out in its first series of the second, Guidry again came up huge on the defensive end. He intercepted a tipped pass by Barnett to set the Wildcats up on Iowa State’s 47-yard line.

While the team struggled to move the football, it got far enough to set up a 47-yard field goal attempt for Cantele, who converted to give Kansas State a 20-13 lead with 8:48 to go in the third quarter.

“We had one turnover – they didn’t have any,” Iowa State running back Jeff Woody said. “If you look at the stat sheet … it’s like looking at a reflecting pool. One side or the other, it’s almost identical: rushing yards, passing yards, total yards, first downs, everything is identical. If there are two more evenly matched teams in the country, I’d like to see them.”

Iowa State kept itself in the game, though, keeping its drive alive through three third-down situations and eventually scoring on a 13-yard touchdown run from Woody. The score tied the game at 20 with 4:25 to play in the third quarter.

The Wildcats’ third possession of the half appeared to begin badly, but a sack of Klein was whistled as a horsecollar. A pair of 15-yard and 21-yard runs by Hubert got his team into a first-and-goal situation on the 3-yard line. However, the Cyclones held them to a field goal, and they only fell behind 23-20.

A 43-yard field goal by Iowa State put the Cyclones right back in it with 6:12 to play in the game.

Driving for the win, the Wildcats got lots of help from Hubert. He got a 22-yard run right off the bat. Klein connected with Torell Miller for a 21-yard gain, and it was Hubert who took it 26 yards – including an impressive tightrope walk at the end – and dove into the end zone for the game-winning score.

“When the game was on the line, they had to line up and take it down the field,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. “They answered and took it down the field with a great rush attack and a smart throw and catch.”

3:29 remained, but the Cyclones could not get a score. On fourth and two, Woody carried the ball, and as he was about to get tackled, he threw the ball over his shoulder in hopes one of his teammates would recover. Ultimately, though, the Wildcats recovered and ran out the clock.

Woody recognized that on that play, the Wildcats knew what was coming, having seen it earlier in the game.

“They jumped the snap count,” Woody said. “The rhythm of the cadence is the same, and we went on a certain cadence that they had heard before. As the ball was moving – they didn’t even react to it. They were reacting to the sound. They jumped the count and dug into one of our linemen and forced disruption in the backfield.”

That would be the final big play the Wildcats needed to take care of their part in going to the best bowl possible.

KSU players recognized on midseason All-Big 12 team

14 Oct

I don’t know how much longer the Wildcats will be able to claim underdog status. Phil Steele released his lists of midseason All-Americans and All-Big honorees, and eight Kansas State names sit among them.

Steele put linebacker Arthur Brown as a first-team All-American. To anyone who has seen him play, this is no surprise whatsoever. He’s 7th in the Big 12 with 38 tackles that include several sacks and tackles for loss. Numbers really do not explain what he brings to this team, though. He gets to the football like he’s magnetically drawn to it. He puts the kind of hard, jarring hits on players that make you happy that you decided to pursue a professional other than football.

Nosetackle Ray Kibble earned third-team All-America recognition. The way the defensive line has been playing, this is very much justified. The Kansas State defense ranks 16th in the nation and is particularly strong against the run. Plus, the Wildcats allow opponents to convert on third down only 30 percent of the time. Kibble has had much to do with that. Coach Bill Snyder said  he is really coming into his own as a leader as well. Fellow defensive tackle Vai Lutui received a spot on the All-Big 12 third team. This is his first season at a D-I college, as he transferred to Kansas State after helping lead Mt. San Antonio Community College to a 13-0 record in 2010.

Defensive end Jordan Voelker saw time in five games last season, a walk-on after transferring from Butler Community College. Steele named him to the second-team All-Big 12. Listed there with him is cornerback Nigel Malone, who apparently resembles players on many different teams because opposing quarterbacks keep throwing him the ball.

As part of Kansas State’s wonderfully revamped linebacking corps, 2010 Freshman All-American Tre Walker made third-team All-American. An enthusiastic vocal leader for the team, he’s one of the younger guys with D-I experience on the roster. Cornerback David Garrett is another passionate player Steele named as third-team Big 12. Wide receiver Chris Harper said Garrett epitomizes the attitude of this team: he may be small, be he’s so tough.

Running back John Hubert is the lone offensive player for Kansas State on this list, as a third-team All-Big 12 player. Averaging nearly 100 yards per game on a team that has a quarterback who averages nearly 100 rushing yards per game is pretty impressive. People worried about how the running game would fare after Daniel Thomas moved on to the NFL. It’s turned out pretty well so far.

 

 

Grading the Wildcats: Game 4

2 Oct

Even after a big win at Miami, people doubted Kansas State's defense. After containing the nation's No. 2 offense, they shouldn't be skeptical anymore. (Photo by Charlie Riedel/AP)

The Wildcats may not have 4- of 5-star recruits, but they have heart. I think that’s the only conclusion to which one can come after watching Kansas State surmount deficits week after week – most recently a 9-point fourth quarter hole against Baylor – to go 4-0 to start the season. Here’s my evaluation of the different units in Saturday’s game.

Offense: B+

Collin Klein is not Robert Griffin III, but he had another solid, gritty performance on Saturday, and once again, his team won. He completed 13 of 28 passes – slightly under 50 percent – for 146 yards and threw one interception, but his north-and-south running netted the Wildcats another 113 yards. Running backs John Hubert and Angelo Pease did not gain 100 yards combined, but they complemented each other well and each had a long run and a touchdown. Klein utilized Hubert as a receiver as well as a runner, but he also involved wide receiver Chris Harper and tight end Andre McDonald.

While totaling 356 yards of offense, Kansas State kept Baylor’s offense off the field for 38 minutes and 47 seconds. That did not make the defense’s job easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it helped.

Of course, the Wildcats did not punch the ball in the way they should have, settling for two field goals in the first half. If they can put it in the end zone in those situations, it’s 21-7 going into the second quarter instead of 13-7.

All in all, the team did what it could do – not necessarily to the very best of its abilities, but it moved the ball in a steady, workmanlike manner and got the job done.

Defense: B+

Kansas State gave up numerous big plays to Baylor, who scored touchdowns on a 43-yard pass, 42-yard pass, 35-yard pass and 34-yard pass from Griffin throughout the game. The secondary got outrun on too many occasions than is normally workable. However, the defense also sacked Griffin five times and forced him into eight incompletions and an interception. That interception was just one of the Bear’s three turnovers – the Wildcats also recovered two fumbles by Baylor. They held the Bears’ prolific offense to only 429 yards … a massive improvement from the 638 yards the Wildcats allowed Baylor last season.

There have been skeptics of the Kansas State defense … after the first two games, even after the Miami game. I don’t know how skeptical people can be now, though.

Special Teams: C+

The special teams unit got off to a great start by forcing Baylor to fumble on a kickoff return. However, it waffled throughout the game. Kicker Anthony Cantele made three field goals, including the game-winner. On the other hand, Baylor had decent-to-good field possession on several occasions, including once after Kansas State allowed a 42-yard return.

Running under the Radar

28 Sep

Voters did not elect John Hubert to the Preseason Big 12 roster, and he did not pique fan interest in nearly the same capacity as a certain Tennessee transfer. Yet, three games into the 2011 season, Hubert has quietly earned the starting role in the Wildcats’ rushing offense.

What exactly gives the 5-feet-7-inch, 185-pound Hubert the advantage over teammates Angelo Pease, Robert Rose and Bryce Brown?

Coach Bill Snyder declines to be overly specific about that, but he did speak to how Hubert’s height serves to help him as a running back.

“He’s a little bit bigger lower body than he is upper body; he’s got good leg strength,” Snyder said. “When he is low, he can gain a leverage advantage. It’s kind of like when offensive and defensive linemen react to each other: low pads wins. That’s the common terminology, and that’s kind of true in everything. You have better leverage and therefore greater strength if you play a little bit lower, and it’s easy for him to play low. I think that’s the strength advantage he has.”

Against Miami, Hubert ran for 166 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. He busted one run for 47 yards and averaged 9.2 yards per run in the game.

With all the talk about Bryce Brown and why he hasn’t had playing time, or even whether he will stay or go, Hubert competes in relative anonymity, with little fuss or fanfare surrounding his impressive play. If he continues that way, it doesn’t seem like Brown or anyone else will be taking over anytime soon.

Getting the Runaround

31 Aug

Wildcat fans need wait only three more days – including today – before heading back to one of the most beloved places in Manhattan: Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Instead of cheering on Daniel Thomas this season, the object of fans’ attentions will be …. well, one of four people, most likely. Although the team released a depth chart yesterday, head coach Bill Snyder is less than reassuring when it comes to that paper’s validity going forward.

“We’ve had 35 percent of all the practices that we will have for the entire year already, and we still haven’t made that choice,” Snyder said of the starting running back position, “so they may be – and may continue to be – competitive throughout the course of the year.”

As of now, transfer Angelo Pease is listed as the starter, followed by John Hubert, followed by Bryce Brown. And yet, the first running back Snyder described during Tuesday’s press conference was Robert Rose, who was not listed on the depth chart, and he compared the 5’4″ sophomore to legendary Wildcat Darren Sproles.

“I think Robert, even though he’s the smallest of the group, really is kind of a difficult guy to find,” Snyder said. “Remember how Darren was, and we always spoke to the fact that Darren was just a hard guy to find. Now he had ability and talent to go along with it, obviously, and so does Robert, but you put those big six, seven guys in there battling each other and he waddles between their legs. And he’s got good quickness, good movement as well.”

Of course, the coach also sees good aspects of the position from Hubert.

“John is a good movement young guy, changes directions maybe not quite as quick as Robert but still has good quickness, good change of direction,” Snyder said. “Both of them, even though they’re not very large, they do have some explosiveness to them and are not unpowerful runners.”

And then, oh yes, that guy who was ranked as one of the top recruits in the country just a few short years ago (Bryce Brown), and junior college transfer Angelo Pease, who came from Hutchinson Community College and is listed first on the depth chart, as previously mentioned.

“Angelo and Bryce bring a little bit more speed to the position,” Snyder said. “They’re a little bit bigger and just by nature of the structure, perhaps they’re a little bit more physical.”

It is not that Snyder does not want to make a decision; his preference would be to have one specific starter and a backup that would provide a change of pace, he said. That aside, running back may still be a fluid position. However, it will eventually be less fluid than it apparently is now.

“We can’t allow it to be four guys during the course of the season,” Snyder said. “We have to make some definitive selections and kind of go with it. That doesn’t mean that all of them can’t get on the field, and it doesn’t mean that all of them won’t, but it’s not going to be by a four-man committee, that’s for sure.”