Wednesday, May 16, 2012
#19 Kansas State
The biggest surprise of the 2011 College Football Season was the Kansas State Wildcats. The Wildcats finished second in the Big XII and ended the season in the Cotton Bowl with a 10-3 record. Head Coach Bill Snyder and the Wildcats will be on a lot of teams' radars this year. The Wildcats got off to a 7-0 start before suffering back to back losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Oklahoma thoroughly dominated the Wildcats but the Oklahoma State game was an amazing high scoring contest that went down to the final play. Many of the Wildcat victories were nail biters making many experts wonder if they can build on last year's success. The offense will return 8 starters and a stingy defense will return 6 starters.
The Wildcats finished 101st in Total Offense last year in the NCAA. The offense was a problem at points last year if quarterback Collin Kline was having an off game. Kline took quite a beating and will need to develop as a passer this year if he wants to avoid some of the wear and tear on his body. Kline and running back John Hubert were both one thousand yard rushers for the 29th ranked Rushing Offense. Kline tied the NCAA record for quarterback rushing touchdowns last year with 27. The offensive line will have three starters returning and several backups with playing experience will try to round out an experienced unit. The wide receivers were very good when they caught the ball but Klein only threw it for 1,918 yards last year for a measly 147.5 yards a game. The biggest emphasis for the offense this year will be to develop a balanced attack.
The Kansas State defense made a huge improvement last year after an abysmal performance in 2010. When you talk about the Kansas State defense, most of the talk will be about Senior Nigel Malone. Nigel Malone was a shut down corner who was tied for 4th in the nation with 7 interceptions. He helped the defense finish 72nd in the Total Defense category. Without Malone, the passing defense would have finished much lower than 76th. The rushing defense was quite dominating finishing 37th last year. Miami transfer Arthur Brown became a force at Mike Linebacker. He led the team with 101 tackles and secured the middle of the field.. Defensive End Meshak Williams led the team in tackles for loss and sacks. Williams could become a first round draft pick if he puts up numbers like that again.
The law of averages says that all things balance out and after so many close victories last year, you have to wonder if they can do it again. The Wildcats non-conference schedule isn't very challenging with three home games against Missouri State, Miami (FL), and North Texas. We won't really know the merit of this team until they visit Oklahoma on September 22nd. An eight win season is right about the average for Bill Snyder during his tenure at K-State. I think this K-State team will go 8-4 this year with losses to Oklahoma, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and TCU. But if the offense develops a passing game and the defense continues to improve, the Wildcats could have another shocking season on their hands.