Disclaimer : I am sure that I have something wrong with this preview. If something is incorrect, feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email (doubletnation AT gmail DOT com) and I'll get things corrected either in the story or in the comments. The purpose of this preview is to help educate myself and Texas Tech fans about your team.
What does Bill Snyder have up his sleeve this year? Not sure, but I'm pretty sure that it's going to work out the way that it's supposed to work out. I think that's an answer that Snyder would have if he were asked about the season.
Snyder is the antithesis of someone like Art Briles or Mike Leach. He isn't dynamic and he isn't a quote machine and he doesn't "win" media days. I present part of the answer to Snyder's secodn question from Media Days earlier this spring:
Q. During the summer you spoke a time or two about expectations, and after being picked eighth in the Big 12 last season, K-State finishes second. Now coming off ten wins, K-State enters -- picked to finish sixth in the league. Just your thoughts on that spot and do you feel like your program does its best when it's considered somewhat of an underdog?
COACH SNYDER: I'm not altogether certain. And I think you look back at last season and we moved up maybe six slots. I just hope that we can do something similar to that. But for us that's, I don't think, really significant. How do I deal with it? Probably not the same way that young people in the program do. Do we perform better as, quote/unquote, underdogs? That I don't know. I haven't seen any statistics in that regard. Last year obviously we played reasonably well in those circumstances.
I have a greater concern about game by game when we are perhaps selected as favorites in a ballgame. I think that -- as any coach probably would say, that's where your greatest concern lies, just not making sure that young people don't take things for granted or we as coaches don't take anything for granted.
Don't ever change.
Offense | Run
The biggest returning offensive weapon is probably RB John Hubert and if you didn't know, he is 5-7/191, which is awsome. Even better is the fact that the next two guys on the depth chart: Robert Rose (5-4/176) and DeMarcus Robinson (5-7/209). Seriously, 5'7" and 209 pounds? K-State likes little football players maybe more than Texas Tech (seek Jakeem Grant and Sadale Foster). Hubert almost rushed for 2,000 yards last year and had 18 touchdowns.
Along the line, B.J. Finney returns at center as does LT Cornelius Lucas and RG Keenan Taylor, so they return a pretty good mix of players along the line that was good for 32nd in the nation in rushing offense and averaged 4.79 yards a carry.
We'd be a bit remiss if we didn't discuss the fact that the second leading rusher, Collin Klien, graduated as did the backup running back Angelo Pease. In fact, Klien was the second leading rusher in terms of yards, but out-paced Hubert by 18 carries as the leading rusher by attempts. I think that's a bit significant because I guess it depends what Snyder will do with his quarterback situation as he has two different options. We'll get to those later, but the idea is that one quarterback could probably continue, in theory, what Klein did running the ball, while the other quarterback is more of a passer and will bring a different look to K-State.
Offense | Pass
So let's get to those quarterbacks. Apparently the two ptions are JUCO transfer Jake Waters and last year's backup Daniel Sams. Despite seeing really only mop-up duty, which included time against Texas Tech, Sams was the 4th leading rusher for K-State, which also speaks to the fact that Snyder will absolutely lean on just a couple of running backs for production. Sams ran for 235 yards and had just 55 yards passing last year, but the idea is that Sams is more in the mold of what Klien did last year. Be able to run the ball and pass when needed. Sams was just a freshman last year, so maybe he just isn't quite ready for the big stage, but I'm not sure.
Then you have Waters, who was the top JUCO quarterback last year, ran for 256 yards and 6 touchdowns while passing for 3,500 yards on 73% completion rate with 39 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. For comparison purpsoes, that's about 1,000 more yards passing than Klien did last year. So yeah, Waters is projected to be a better passer and could change the look of the Kansas St. offense quite a bit.
No matter who starts, they'll have to do it without last year's leading receiver, Chris Harper, who caught 58 passes for 857 yards. Still, the Wildcats do return Tyler Lockett, who is pretty darned good, as well as Tramaine Thompson and Curry Sexton.
I also don't know what to do with this information, but K-State has a couple of notable names, including Kyle Klein, younger brother to Collin, but Kyle plays receiver and Glenn Gronkowski, younger brother to Rob.
Defense | Run
This is where things get really interesting for Kansas St. The Wildcats replace nine starters from last year. Nine. That's a lot. The entire front four graduated, Meshak williams, Vai Lutui, John Sua and Adam Davis. They all started every game in 2012. As someone that really don't know anything about K-State other than what I can read in the media guide, I'll just ahve to refer to that. There just isn't any player that played much last year so there's really no point of reference other than Snyder is a terrific football coach. So here are your handful of dudes that could see time at defensive line this year: Travis Britz, Alauna Finau, Ryan Mueller, Devon Nash, Marquel Bryant, Laton Dowling, Chaquil Reed and Demonte Hood. I'm guessing that this will largely be worked out in fall practices.
At linebacker, Kansas St. replaces all three linebackers, Arthur Brown, Jarell Childs and Justin Tuggle (I think this is who started), but they do return some linebackers with decent experience. Jonathan Truman and Trey Walker are the somewhat experienced guys, while Blake Slaughter started a bit back in 2010.
Statistically, the rushing offense was fantastic last year, second just behind TCU in the Big 12 and 20th in the nation. It doesn't seem probably that this trend would continue this year with so many different and new starters on the front seven. Actually every starter on the front seven. Not to mention, it's probably not going to be easy to replace Brown, who was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the year last year, so it's not just production, but elite production at a very important position.
Defense | Pass
From what I can tell, S Ty Zimmerman and CB Randall Evans are the two returning starters on defense. Zimmerman is fantastic and he's an All-Big 12 guy and will be the leader of the defense. Zimmerman seems to have a knack for making some big plays. The second leading tackler for the defense and the other safety, Jarard Milo graduated and the likely repalcement is Dante Barnett. At the other cornerback spot, the likely starter along side Evans might be Kip Daily.
I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention that Kansas St. picked up two JUCO defensive backs in the 2013 class, Travis Green and Nate Jackson.
From a statistical standpoint, Kansas St. wasn't immune to passing offenses. Like almost every Big 12 team, they gave up yards and were 82nd in the nation in pass defense, which was midde of the road in the Big 12, 5th overall. A big part of the pass defense was that front seven and the pass rush that they generated, good for 31st in the nation in sacks, which was 2nd in the Big 12. It would seem natural that this would fall off a bit in 2013.
It should not be a surprise to you that Kansas St. has fantastic special teams play. They were 2nd in punt returns and 1st in kickoff returns in the nation. Add that they were also 38th in the nation in punting. Unfortunately P Ryan Doerr graduates, but I'm sure Snyder has a plan here. And for all of you who were clamoring that Jakeem Grant get the nod as a kickoff returner, well because K-State returns the best kickoff returners in the nation, namely the best in the nation in Tyler Lockett, then that's not going to happen. Lockett averaged 53 yards a return. And Tramaine Thompson was 1st in the nation in punt returns at 24 yards a game. K-State will have to replace K Anthony Cantele and it should not surprise you that his younger brother Jack Cantele is the leading candidate.
I don't know what I can add to what Snyder has done and it is fun to call him a wizard because he is a wizard. He is more than that and his football teams are typically incredibly fun to watch. I know that Texas Tech fans like being the underdog, but K-State has been the epitome of underdog the last few years and been so much better than what everyone thought during the preseason. This year is no different. Kansas St. has been picked 6th, one spot ahead of Texas Tech, athough K-State had 80 more votes so that gap is pretty significant. Either way, the takeaway should be that nothing is set in stone and preseason predictions are nothing more than preseason predictions.
Rating the Wildcats
|Offense - Run|
|Offense | Pass|
|Defense | Run|
|Defense | Pass|