Friday, April 07, 2006

Kansas State Football Spring Outlook

Kansas State Wildcats Spring Outlook

In the Rearview Mirror
Another disappointing year for the Wildcat faithful as KSU landed in last place in the Big 12 North in 2005. The Cats finished 5-6, including a 2-6 record in Big 12 play. The year was not without a number of bright spots, including victories over state rival Kansas and the final game of Coach Snyder’s career, Missouri. Of course, THE story of 2005 was Coach Snyder announcing his retirement. After bringing K-State from the basement of the college football world to a penthouse suite Coach Snyder decided it was time to walk away. Regardless of the successes of Ron Prince or any other future coaches, Bill Snyder will always be thought of as the Heart and Soul of the KSU Football program.

Looking to the Future
Coming off a 5-6 season, you might think Coach Snyder left the cupboards bare for incoming Coach Ron Prince. Not so fast my friend. KSU has no fewer then 41 returning Lettermen and 20 starters back. However, everyone will be learning a new system and this team will need some time to adapt to all the changes. Coach Prince has said every position is open and all the players are starting with a clean slate.

Biggest Questions for 2006
Offense: The Quarterbacks - The Wildcats have 3 Quarterbacks on the roster this year with starting experience. However, when you have three quarterbacks with starting experience, it is usually because one has not stood out above the rest, and that is the case here. Additionally, Redshirt Freshman Kevin Lopina and true Freshman Josh Freeman are also expected to get looks from the coaching staff. Perhaps the favorite is Dylan Meier, after sitting out all of last year recovering from surgery. All five QB’s have the talent to lead the Wildcats this year, the one who is able to quickly adapt to Ron Princes system will be the starter when Illinois State come to the Little Apple. In my opinion, that guy will be Dylan Meier.
Defense: The Secondary – The Wildcats are returning plenty of talent from last years team, including Marcus Watts at Free Safety. After the switch from Wide Receiver, Watts finished 2nd on the team in Tackles and was selected as Honorable Mention All-League by the Coaches and the AP. The big question will be how the new defensive schemes work in the Big 12. New Defensive Coordinator, Raheem Morris will most likely implement a version of the Cover-2 or Tampa-2 Defense at Kansas State. This will be a huge change at KSU and it is yet to be seen how that defense will translate to the college game.
Special Teams: Punter – OK, maybe this is a stretch, but the Wildcats seem to be pretty solid in Special Teams. With virtually everyone of importance returning on Special Teams, Punting is the one area that could use some consistency. Tim Reyer averaged nearly 3 yards more per punt last year then he did his freshman year and was not as consistent as the coaching staff would have liked. If he can get back to his ’04 form, the Wildcats should be in great shape on Special Teams.

Team Strength in 2006
Offense: Offensive Line – Could this be the year we manage to make it all season without any major injuries to the Offensive Line? The injuries could turn out to be a big part of the O-Lines success this year. K-State returns seven lineman with starting experience. Because of the injuries, players got much needed playing time at multiple positions. Not to mention, the O-Line is Ron Princes baby. He is an experienced O-Line coach and will take great interest in the success of this group.
Defense: Linebackers – K-State is returning both the starting Outside Linebackers and has a Middle Linebacker with a lot of experience. Senior Brandon Archer has led the Wildcats in each of the last two seasons and should have another great year. Maurice Mack made the transition to the Weakside Backer last year and started all 11 games, finishing with 53 tackles. Zach Diles appears to be the man in the middle when the season kicks off. Diles managed 50 tackles last year in limited play. I also think Matt Wallerstedt will have a positive impact on this group. Matt was a standout at Manhattan High School and at K-State before starting his coaching career.
Special Teams: Punt and Kick Returns – Jermaine Moreira and Yamon Figurs should provide solid options in the returns.

2006 Schedule
Sep 02 Illinois State Manhattan, Kan.
Sep 09 Florida Atlantic Manhattan, Kan.
Sep 16 Marshall Manhattan, Kan.
Sep 23 Louisville Manhattan, Kan.
Sep 30 Baylor at Waco, Texas
Oct 07 Oklahoma State Manhattan, Kan.
Oct 14 Nebraska Manhattan, Kan.
Oct 21 Missouri at Columbia, Mo.
Oct 28 Iowa State Manhattan, Kan.
Nov 04 Colorado at Boulder, Colo.
Nov 11 Texas Manhattan, Kan.
Nov 18 Kansas at Lawrence, Kan.

2006 is Successful if…
Someone steps up at Quarterback.

2006 is a Failure if…
The team is slow in adapting to the new systems.


Anonymous said...

Nice read. I would say our offensive strength will be our running game, but it will depend on how our O-Line responds. O-Line could be a great strength or it could be a major disappointment. QB is going to be interesting, but I think Everidge will be the starter with Lopina and Meier pushing. Freeman has all the tools, but might need a little more time to develop. In Coach Prince's system the tight ends will become very important, so hopefully they will step up. Defense needs to improve in all phases, and hopefully Marcus will be back and in form. We might see the biggest improvement on defense with our D-Line but only because we have been so bad there for the last two seasons. If we can get some pressure from the D Ends and get a push up front, then our LB's and Secondary should have a good year.

I am very excited about Coach Prince and his assistants as I think he will bring a great attitude and focus to the team and hopefully we can turn this around quickly.


dolphinfan said...

I can see the Wildcats making it to a bowl game this season because their non-conference schedule is very favorable. They will struggle in conference but I think will pick-up enough wins (6) to make the bowl season.

Anonymous said...

OL will not be a strength. Outside of Hafferty, none has played enough snaps to be more than a little effective. Maybe Wafford but he might be moving positions again. The rest is a very mixed bag. Lots of bodies, but none that are dominant right now.