There’s optimism in Manhattan or at least some signs of it as Kansas State enters the 2010 season. Legendary Head Coach Bill Snyder begins “Year Two” of his second stint at the helm with a real horse in the backfield in Sr. RB and All-American candidate Daniel Thomas. Thomas will clearly be the focal point of this offense as there are questions at quarterback. Senior QB Carson Coffman will start week one at home against UCLA on Sept. 4th, but look for a possible change at that position as the season progresses. Coffman knows the offense, there’s no doubt about that. Yet he lacks mobility and his arm strength is average, at best. This offense, especially with a set of young yet talented WR’s headlined by Sr. Aubrey Quarles and Oregon transfer and converted QB Chris Harper, will need solid production from it’s signal-caller to be productive. Snyder may turn to Jr. QB Sammuel Lamur or Soph. Collin Klein to run the offense if Coffman sputters at any point in the non-conference schedule. Lamur, who fits the mold of a Snyder-type quarterback, has scrabbling ability and tremendous arm-strength, but accuracy and understanding the offense are issues of concern. Klein could step in as well later in the year and has a world of potential, but he didn’t participate in the spring game due to injury and has been somewhat limited this offseason. Adding to fact that Wildcat opponents are going to get a heavy dose of Daniel Thomas is the maturity and experience on the O-Line lead by Sr. Center Wade Weibert and Sr. Guard Zach Kendall. This offensive line needs to come up big, pounding the ball with Thomas, moving the chains and running clock. The Wildcats are going to score points and should get better as the season progresses, especially if they can develop a passing game to compliment Thomas on the ground. This could be an exciting offensive unit to watch in 2010 and will surprise a lot of defenses with their play-making abilities.
The Wildcats defensively have more questions, especially at linebacker. The D-line looks to improve and will if Jr. DE Brandon Harold can rebound from an injury-plagued sophomore season and lead the group. Harold has tons of talent and will need to spend a lot of time in the opponent’s backfield for this defense to be successful. This is because there are a lot of new faces at linebacker with the exception of Jr. Alex Hrebec, who showed signs of strong improvement in 2009. Look for the Cats to bring Safety help up to the front seven for added defensive pressure on early downs. The secondary, especially at Safety, also should get stronger as the season moves along. Junior Safety Tysyn Hartman leads this group and is coming off a breakthough season in 2009, despite going down with a knee-injury in the Cat’s final game at Nebraska. Hartman moves well and has a nose for the football and will be a clear leader on defense. The Wildcats are going to give up some points, there are just simply too many talented offenses in the Big 12. But if everyone can begin to identify their roles on defense and develop a steady pass rush, look for the Cats to improve on their 6-6 record in ’09.
A bowl game, any bowl game is a must this year. Snyder and the Wildcats find themselves in a similar situation as they were in the early part of the 1990′s. This is a solid, yet not spectacular group of athletes but with a lot of potential. Clearly, they didn’t have a Daniel Thomas-type back in Snyder’s early years and hopefully the First-team Big 12 RB will be enough to get them over the hump to at least seven, maybe eight victories and that coveted bowl game in 2010.
About the Author
Written by Chad Craghead
A 1988 graduate from Wichita State University, Chad has followed WSU as well as Kansas State athletics for over 30 years, along with being a lifelong Boston Red Sox and L.A./St. Louis Rams fan.