Official Husker Locker Blog
2009 Aug 03
Big 12 Breakdown: No. 7 Kansas State
We rank the teams 12 to 1 in overall strength. Then we’ll provide for you the North/South breakdown – and the preseason All Big 12 team, as well.
Today: No. 7 Kansas State
Coach: Bill Snyder
2008 Record: 5-7 (under Ron Prince)
What’s Changed Since 2008: Heh – everything. Prince was fired – and deservedly so. Snyder was brought back to heal the family. Then, in the spring, it got really crazy, with secret deals to Prince and audits, and firings and resignations and turmoil. KSU is in a hurtin’ place as an athletic department.
2009 Non-Conference Schedule: Snyder worked a little magic, as UMass and Tennessee Tech worm their way onto the slate. A game at Louisiana-Lafayette shouldn’t be a sweat, and the game at UCLA, poor, no-offense UCLA, is winnable.
2009 Conference Schedule: Highly favorable. KSU hosts Texas A&M, Colorado, Missouri and Kansas, plays at Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas Tech (all losses there) and plays Iowa State in Kansas City, which will probably end up being a home game for the Wildcats. We see 4-5 wins in there.
Coordinator: Del Miller and Dana Dimel. Don’t be surprised if Snyder’s imprints are all over the offense, though. Miller worked at San Diego State for the last three years, while Dimel was at Arizona. Both know their way around a spread passing offense; Dimel built a balanced attack at Zona last year. Preferably, Snyder would like a mobile QB who can run and pass, but he’ll settle for a guy who keeps the Cats out of bad situations.
Strength: Wide receiver Brandon Banks (1049 receiving yards, 126 rushing yards) is the kind of dynamic player Snyder loves, and he’ll get 10-15 touches per game. One way or another, Banks will be the team’s primary offensive weapon. KSU has intriguing running backs, too, in Logan Dold, Keithen Valentine and transfer Daniel Thomas, a JUCO guy who could play QB in a pinch.
Weakness: Quarterback. After the Josh Freeman show for three years, Coffman essentially takes over, and while he’s not terrible – he was actually decent in spot duty last year – he’s not a guy who can beat you by himself. On the offensive line, arguably KSU’s best lineman, Brock Unruh, was lost for the year to a weight room injury.
Coordinator: Co-coordinators again, with Vic Koenning, Clemson’s former DC and Chris Cosh, the former DC at Maryland, which was one of the few teams to shut down California running back Jahvid Best. This was an awful defense in 2008. We sense that, at some point, KSU simply gave up on that side of the ball, especially the linebackers, who played with little overall discipline.
Strength: The defensive line could be very good, with super-soph defensive end Brandon Harold (45 tackles and 3 sacks as a freshman) and University of Virginia transfer Jeffrey Fitzgerald at an inside defensive tackle. But this bunch didn’t get great push last year. That part of it has to improve. With Fitzgerald, who started 25 games at UVA, we think it will. The secondary, led by cornerback Joshua Moore, might be, fair, too. Moore was the best pure cover guy on the team last year, and one of the best in the Big 12 outside of Norman, Okla.
Weakness: The linebackers are a little undersized, a little slow, and were really chewed up by the spread last year. Then again, they seemed to be getting some iffy coaching as the year went on (like when Nebraska ran the same zone read play over and over, and the Wildcats refused to adjust to it) so maybe that will change. The co-DCs may try to counteract that by getting an extra safety on the field.
Beyond that, the Wildcats are in need of a better pass rush.
Special Teams It was good under Prince, and it’ll remain good under Snyder. Banks is an excellent return man for kickoffs or punts. DJ Fulhage returns as punter, and freshman Ryan Doerr now becomes the kicker. KSU coverage units should be pretty good, too; Snyder likes to populate those units with JUCO guys.
Intangibles: By year two or three of the “Miracle in Manhattan,” Snyder found a way to keep his Wildcats in games where they were severely overmatched. A few years later, KSU was winning those games. Few coaches prepare like this guy. He never strays too far from the plan, his teams don’t often get blown out, and Kansas State will commit to a solid running game. You watch. The formula typically works.
Best-Case Scenario: Kansas State wins nine – all four non-conference games, and five more in the league. Long shot, but doable.
Worst-Case Scenario: Last in the Big 12 North.
Our Take: Same record as Kansas, with the tiebreaker going to the Wildcats on head-to-head matchup. The Wildcats simply get a favorable schedule this year. They’ll need it, and take advantage of it.
See other Big 12 Breakdowns: No. 12 ISU, No. 11 A&M, No. 10 CU, No. 9 BU, No. 8 KU, No. 7 KSU, No. 6 Texas Tech
Agree? Disagree? Tell us about it.
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