Everyone loves to talk about Oklahoma bringing back a loaded OL and Baker Mayfield, or the embarrassment of riches that Mason Rudolph will have running routes for him at Oklahoma State, but the K-State offense could be as good as either.
While Oklahoma has to find new features outside at receiver, the Wildcats are likely to get better with Jesse Ertz coming back with a healthier shoulder, his top two targets back, and then a 6-5 transfer joining the party. Whereas Oklahoma State has to work in some new blockers at TE to make sure that their essential run game maintains its punch, the Wildcats welcome back rising star RB Alex Barnes, 1k-yard rusher Jesse Ertz, virtually the entire OL, and excellent blockers in TE Dayton Valentine and FB Winston Dimel.
All of these offenses will likely be very good, as will a few others across this league, but K-State actually has the fewest question marks on that side of the ball.
Where Kansas State has big question marks is on defense, where the linebacker corps was decimated and the best player (DE Jordan Willis) headed off to the NFL. Of course, OU and OSU also have big question marks on defense, but today we’re gonna talk Wildcat football.
Safety is an interesting area for the Wildcats because longtime starter Dante Barnett is moving on, as is “cat safety” (their name for their nickel) Donnie Starks. The hope amongst fans has been that JUCO star Elijah Walker could step in here and Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal has a story up on his development.
Interestingly the article notes that Walker hasn’t been working at SS or nickel, where there are openings, but at free safety where Kendall Adams is well established. I was a big fan of Walker’s JUCO film, but this strikes me as confirmation that the Wildcats are going to turn to guys who have been in the program a few years to take over at those spots.
Looking back at some 2015 film where Sean Newlan got in the mix, he was actually better than I remembered. I think a lot will depend on the play of the nickel. The Wildcats ask a ton from that position and in my estimation haven’t got enough physicality on the perimeter from anyone there since Randall Evans left.
There’s also the outside-backer position, which it sounds like they haven’t settled on an answer for yet or else they just aren’t telling us. Smart money is on Sam Sizelove at this point since he’s played it before.
Another interesting article was this piece on “five potential replacements for Bill Snyder.” It’s a clickbait piece but the suggestions were humorous and the topic too fun to pass on.
First suggestion? Gary Patterson. No chance. TCU is a better job than Kansas State and Patterson is well established and comfortable in Ft. Worth anyways. He’s going to pass on recruiting Texas kids to the Fort so he can try to do the same thing in Manhattan? Why?
Next up, Jim Leavitt, who’s the actual no. 1 contender in terms of outside hires. If Leavitt proves capable of turning around the Oregon defense and getting them playing sound, effective ball again then he could be a great contender here. I had assumed he was largely responsible for Colorado’s breakthrough until I noticed that their DBs played a huge role and Mike MacIntyre is evidently a DB developing guru. Now I need Leavitt to show me a little more.
Option three was Joe Moorhead, who’s been busy putting Penn State on the map with his spread offense in State College. I don’t see this as a brilliant fit in either direction. Moorhead’s specialty is crafting aggressive and simple offenses based on execution and athleticism. K-State’s offense has been keyed by complexity, versatility, and physicality over the last several decades.
Recruiting top athletes and then out-executing opponents is probably not the way to win in Kansas. Anyways, if Penn State kills it again this year then Moorhead will probably have better offers.
Option four? Sean Snyder. I’ve heard a lot of mixed things about Snyder’s son and K-State. Personally I think that continuity with the staff that Bill Snyder has assembled is the best course of action but I don’t know that Sean Snyder is the best man to lead it all up and I suspect the rest of the staff feels similarly. I’d go with Dana Dimel or an outside hire who’d focus on defense and allow Dimel and Collin Klein to carry on the offensive tradition.
Option five is Bob Stoops. That’s the ultimate clickbait joke and not worth examining here. It probably should have been Craig Bohl of Wyoming, who would overhaul the schemes at K-State but maintain a philosophy of recruiting scrappy, overlooked kids and then teaching them to go out and physically whip their opponents every week. North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman might be a good choice for the same reason, I’m not sure either would take the job. There are some other guys out there with similar philosophies these days though and that’s where I’d look if K-State hired me to hire their next head coach IF Bill Snyder moved on after this season.