Bill Snyder always gets the most out of his teams, but replacing Daniel Thomas is no easy task.
By: Steven Lassan | 6/4/11, 1:41 PM EDT
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#73 Kansas State
Big 12 PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Bill Snyder, 149-80-1 | OFF. COORDINATOR: Dana Dimel, Del Miller | DEF. COORDINATOR: Chris Cosh
For the third straight year, K-State enters the season with uncertainty at the quarterback position. Collin Klein, Justin Tuggle and Sammuel Lamur competed for the job throughout spring practices, and incoming freshman Daniel Sams will join the mix when fall camp begins. Coach Bill Snyder will likely take as much time as possible before naming a starter. The race appears to be wide open, but all four are dual-threat players. Expect Klein, a junior who saw time as a starter last season, or Tuggle, a junior college transfer who followed Cam Newton at Blinn (Texas) College, to start the first game.
Also important will be the person the new quarterback hands the ball off to. With Daniel Thomas on his way to the NFL, the Wildcats will need to find a new focal point for their offense. Following him will be difficult, but Tennessee transfer Bryce Brown appears up for the task. The former high school All-American from Wichita has received fabulous reviews from teammates since joining K-State’s scout team last season.
The receiving game should be dependable as long as Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson continue to recover from injuries that ended their 2010 seasons early.
On the offensive line, K-State will need to replace Wade Weibert, Zach Kendall and Kenneth Mayfield. Not an easy task. All three were solid blockers throughout their collegiate careers, and were considered vocal leaders of the offense.
K-State’s inability to stuff the run and pressure the quarterback plagued the Wildcats all season. That’s why finding big, physical talent to put on the defensive front was the main focus of the Wildcats’ latest recruiting class. Ian Seau, nephew of NFL legend Junior Seau, and Meshak Williams head a talented group of players who should compete for playing time right away.
Linebackers should be an area of improvement. Arthur Brown, a transfer from Miami (Fla.) and brother of Bryce, is expected to be one of the top defenders on the team. Combine him with returning starters Alex Hrebec and Jarell Childs, as well as Tre Walker and Blake Slaughter, and Snyder believes there is enough talent at linebacker to change up his defense. Instead of running a 4-2-5, as he has the past two seasons, he will use more 4-3 formations in 2011.
K-State’s secondary should once again be strong even with the losses of Stephen Harrison and Terrance Sweeney. Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman return at the safety positions, and top cornerback David Garrett, who made 92 tackles a year ago, could be the team’s best defensive player.
Explosive return man William Powell is out of eligibility, and so are steady long snapper Corey Adams and kicker Josh Cherry. Bryce Brown, Smith, Zimmerman, Hartman and Thompson will compete for time as return specialists, and Anthony Cantele is expected to handle field goal and kickoff duty this year. Ryan Doerr will punt.
The potential is there to improve in Snyder’s third season back, but it will take a unique mixture of elements for Kansas State to see big dividends on the field. K-State has enough promising young talent to make a run at a winning season, but the margin for error will be small against a tough schedule that includes a road game at Miami (Fla.) and all six of the Big 12’s old South Division teams. Coaching and player discipline will be key.