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Texas Tech Football | Kansas St. Wildcats Preview

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Kansas St. at a Glance
Home | Manhattan, KS (Big 12 Conference)
2011 Record | 10-3 (7-2) (Big 12)
Offensive Starters Returning | 8
Defensive Starters Returning | 6
2012 Offensive MVP | QB Collin Klein
2012 Defensive MVP | LB Arthur Brown

This is my yearly attempt to educate myself on the teams on the Texas Tech schedule. I am not an expert about any of these teams, but rather I have spent a few hours studying the team and it is more likely than not that I have something wrong. Please correct me in the comments. All helmet images via The Helmet Project.

Important Links | NCAA Stats (101st Total Offense; 72nd Total Defense) . . . Spring Prospectus (PDF) . . .

The Coach | This is Bill Snyder and he is a genius. I have said it too many times over the course of the season and I do not shy away from saying it now, he is a coaching genius. With all apologies to Mike Leach, there may not be a better coach in America than Bill Snyder and I'm okay with that. Later in this preview, I'll mention that Snyder won a handful of close games in 2011 and that those games may not turn in Kansas St.'s favor in 2012, but I won't be betting against him. I have no idea who his assistant coaches are or who the coordinators of Kansas St. is, and that is not to diminish what they do, but Snyder is the ringleader and that is a wondeful thing for Wildcat fans. When I look back at his coaching record, it is a marvel. In 1989 Kansas St. won 1 game in Snyder's first year as the head coach and with three middling years from 1990 through 1992, Kansas St. went on a literal tear through the Big Eight Conference and Big 12 up until 2004. Snyder went 11 years without a losing record and of those 11 years without a losing record, 8 of those seasons had nine wins or more. In 2004 and 2005, Snyder had losing records and Kansas St. moved on to the Ron Prince era, which seems so long ago. Back at the helm in 2006, Snyder again turned the program around and immediately went 6-6, then 7-6 and last year culminated with a 10-3 record and a Cotton Bowl appearance last year.

The thing about Snyder is that he doesn't talk about what he does. I could not find any article or coaching clinics about what Snyder does except for this video on Amazon about his kicking game philosophy and fundamentals. The most I can find out about Snyder as a coach are his 16 goals:

1. Commitment: To common goals and being successful.
2. Unselfishness: There is no "I" in TEAM.
3. Unity: Come together as never before.
4. Improve: Everyday . . . as a player, person and student.
5. Be Tough: Mentally and physically.
6. Self-Discipline: Do it right, don't accpet less.
7. Great Effort
8. Enthusiasm
9. Eliminate Mistakes: Don't beat yourself.
10. Never Give Up
11. Don't Accept Losing: If you do so one time, it will be easy to do so for the rest of your life.
12. No Self-Limitations: Expect more of yourself.
13. Expect To Win: And truly believe we will.
14. Consistency: Your very, very best every time.
15. Leadership: Everyone can set the example.
16. Responsibility: You are responsible for your own performance.

I suppose those are life lessons, but they are also coaching cliches and I would be remiss in thinking that Snyder's 16 goals are nothing more than just words. It seems silly that it can be that simple, but that thought is wrong too. I cannot argue with results.

DTN 2012 Previews
* 9/1/12 Northwestern St. Demons (Preview)
* 9/8/12 @ Texas St. Bobcats (Preview)
* 9/15/12 New Mexico Lobos (Preview)
* 9/29/12 @ Iowa St. Cyclones (Preview)
* 10/6/12 Oklahoma Sooners (Preview)
* 10/13/12 West Virginia Mountaineers (Preview)
* 10/20/12 @ TCU Horned Frogs (Preview)
* 10/27/12 @ Kansas St. Wildcats (Preview)
* 11/3/12 Texas Longhorns (Preview)
* 11/10/12 Kansas Jayhawks (Preview)
* 11/17/12 @ Oklahoma St. Cowboys (Preview)
* 11/24/12 Baylor Bears (Preview)

What We Do Know | Kansas St returns their best players, QB Collin Klein and LB Arthur Brown. That is a good start.

Offensively, Kansas St. returns two offensive linemen, two running backs, the tight end and two receivers as starters. Klein was superb for Kansas St. averaging 87 yards a game rushing and 125 yards a game passing. Just to put the importance of Klein in perspective, Klein was also responsible for 27, yes 27, rushing touchdowns last year and 13 passing touchdowns, which puts him 3rd in the nation in scoring. If Klein has another year like this, then if he's not part of the Heisman Trophy discussion I'll be ticked. Klein was the leading rusher, but also returning is RB John Hubert, who carried the ball 200 times for 1,034 yards. Also returning are the top three receivers, Chris Harper, Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett. So yea, Kansas St. should be fine offensively.

Defensively, half of the second has to be replaced, although you could argue that replacing half of a secondary that was 103rd in the nation in pass defense shouldn't be that big of a problem. Kansas St. did just fine without an elite pass defense. KSU does return Nigel Malone and his 7 interceptions. Thank you very much.

Also returning is defensive end Adam Davis, defensive lineman Vai Lutui and linebackers Tre Walker and the aforementioned Brown. Brown is spectacular and he had a huge hand in winning the Baylor game with a late interception of RGIII. Statistically, Brown is the best defender on the team as he was tied for 9th in the nation for tackles and had 9.5 tackles for loss on the year. He's special. Also returning, is Meshak Williams and he led the team with 7 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. I don't know if Williams started last year (he's not listed as a returning starter) but this is not a problem.

More after the jump.

What We Do Not Know | In other previews I have done, I have questioned the fact that some teams don't return their starters along the line and with only two returning linemen there should be a question about Kansas St.'s ability to replicate the same type of punishing running game. This is probably the biggest question mark heading into the season on the offense. Most likely, the offense won't skip much of a beat.

Defensively is where I have my biggest questions. Perhaps the biggest reason why Kansas St. performed so well is because they were +9 in turnover margin for the year. That stat alone will solve a lot of problems. The question I've had (and I also have this question for Oklahoma St.) is whether or not KSU can replicate this statistic this year. Kansas St. was particularly good at not turning the ball over, only 15 lost possessions for the year, which was tied for 7th in the nation. Where Kansas St. struggle, other than Malone, was forcing turnovers where Kansas St. was 89th in the country.

The fact that Kansas St. does an excellent job to stop the run is most likely intentional with the understanding that the offense isn't going to turn the ball over and sure, there will be some yards given up through the air, but that's to be expected in the Big 12.

Best Player | Brown is really good, but you have to go with Klein. Perhaps the most underrated player in college football. He made the offense score.

Break Through Player Candidate | Hmmm. It's Snyder and Kansas St., so I'll go with a junior college player. How about WR Marquez Clark, a 4-star receiver from Navarro J.C., who had 98 catches for 1,639 yards and 15 touchdowns last year at Navarro J.C.

Overall Fear Level With 1 Being Not Afraid At All and 5 Being So Scared Baby | What a hell of an October. I'm going with a 4 for yet another week, but looking at the entire month, it's brutal. Texas Tech is going to have to re-group in November after a tough October and I'm thinking Texas Tech might be a bit beat up. Until KSU proves me different, this will be an incredibly tough out for Texas Tech.