Tag Archives: Kansas State football preview

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.

Advertisements

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.