Kansas St. Wildcats
Bill Snyder is working his magic again. After retiring as head coach he returned in 2009 and last season the Wildcats went Bowling. The question of whether he can build on that success and get the program back to elite status is on the minds of the Kansas State faithful. A solid running game and an improved defense would be a step in the right direction but that probably isn’t enough to get the job done this year but steady improvement each year could eventually make the Wildcats a dangerous club.
Kansas State wasn’t a throwing team in 2010 and with quarterback Carson Coffman’s graduation their might be even fewer footballs in the air. Collin Klein might be the logical choice to take over after running for 432 yards on 76 totes and throwing for another 138. However, don’t be surprised if JUCO transfer Justin Tuggle is the main man sooner rather than later after throwing for over 2,000 yards and running for another 700+. The Wildcats do have a huge void in the backfield with Daniel Thomas and his nearly 1,600 yards now with the Dolphins so the team is looking at Bryce Brown to pick up the load after running for 460 yards with Tennessee before leaving when Lane Kiffin jumped ship. With John Hubert and DeMarcus Robinson seeing the ball also the Wildcats should be productive on the ground. The receiving unit took a back seat to Thomas and the running game a year ago and might do the same in 2011 with the top three pass catchers gone. Tramaine Thompson is the leader of this group with 19 catches a season ago before a leg injury cost him half the year. The offensive line was obviously good in the ground attack but not so much in pass blocking. Kansas State so questions abound with only two starters back. The group is strong and does have some depth so run blocking looks to be their strong suit once again.
Kansa State was abysmal stopping the run in 2010, finishing next to last in the country but appear to be ready to make drastic improvement with a more experienced defense back. The front four allowed nearly six yards per rush and were not strong pass rushers either but with experience from a year of playing together and with players that did well at the JUCO level this unit can’t be as bad. The line backing crew saw their share of running backs with a porous line but were not able to hold their own, allowing way too many runners to reach the secondary. This season there are a few new faces as well as old and the Wildcats will be playing more of a 4-3 as opposed to a 4-2-5 with the thinking that an extra linebacker will help against the run. If so look for this group to support the defensive line much better with far fewer runners reaching the defensive backfield. The secondary was the strength of the Wildcats defense but some of the reason was that teams preferred to run the ball. Corner David Garrett led the team in tackles with 92 and had 15 TFL to garner some attention in the conference postseason awards. Kansas State is quick at this position but the real stars are at safety where Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman (2 nd Team All Big 12) who combined for 160 tackles.
Anthony Cantele takes over the placekicking job after being mainly a kickoff man. A decent leg but there are more to field goals than just kicking the ball for distance. Punter Ryan Doerr averaged 41.3 yards per boot and forced 35 fair catches leading to the #11 ranking. The kick return team averaged nearl25 yards but the Wildcats are forced to break in some new faces in this spot. Tramaine Thompson (7.4 yards) and Tysyn Hartman will likely handle punt return chores.
This Wildcats will still be able to run the ball successfully but will have some issues stopping it on the defensive side of the ball but after allowing over 3,000 rushing yards in 2010 this unit has the experience to improve. Kansas State has enough talent to finish in the middle of the pack or thereabout in the Big 12 and I can’t see why this team won’t go Bowling once again as long as Bryce Brown applies himself on the ground.