First Practice: April 3
Spring Game: April 27
Kansas State has enjoyed back-to-back seasons with double-digit wins, which includes the 2012 Big 12 championship.
That’s a far cry from the Ron Prince days.
But now the Wildcats will find out how solid their program is as they try to replace about a dozen key players that almost led this unit to a BCS Championship Game. The most likely solution is to fill the holes with junior college players.
Stability Factor (1=chaos, 5=rock solid): 3.0
When Bill Snyder returned to the sidelines in Manhattan, Kan., the Wildcats became a stable program again.
It’s almost amazing to see how quickly he returned Kansas State to prominence at age 73.
The overall number would be higher if not for so many question marks that surround this program going into spring.
Under the Microscope: Defensive Front 7
Kansas State lost like a bazillion tackles to graduation as not a single starter from this group is back this spring.
So that means players like linebackers Tre Walker and Mike Moore and lineman Ryan Mueller and Alauna Finau will have to put in some serious work this spring to rebuild what was a strength for the Wildcats.
Locked and Loaded: Offensive Line
Almost every program has transitional seasons, and as K-State goes through it this year the one reason a fan can still have high hopes is because of the experience back on the offensive line.
This unit is completely intact and that means developing a new quarterback and establishing a running game could come faster than most expect.
The Wildcats offensive line allowed an average of one sack a game last year — let’s give Collin Klein some credit for that — and statistically was one of the best groups in the country in 2012.
Jockeying for Position: Quarterbacks
Gone is Collin Klein and his rugged, all-out style of play at quarterback.
So this spring will be about finding his replacement.
The early nod has to go to last year’s back up, Daniel Sams. He rushed for 235 yards and three touchdowns, but his arm is still a question mark.
JUCO quarterback Jake Waters should give him a challenge this spring. He was considered the top pro-style quarterback coming out of Iowa Western Community College after throwing 39 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Name to Know: John Hubert, RB
Hubert wasn’t a big-time recruit coming out of high school, but something about the 5-foot-7 back impressed Kanas State’s coaches.
Snyder has a knack of taking players like Hubert and turning them into 1,000-yard rushers (see Darren Sproles).
He has the speed and strength to be the next big thing for the Wildcats.
Spring Will Be a Success If …: K-State can feel good about its defense.
There are so many holes to fill on that side of the ball it’s difficult right now to see how the Wildcats can compete with the high-flying offenses in the Big 12.
Safeties Ty Zimmerman and Jarard Milo are back, and so is nickelback Randall Evans. But the entire front seven are gone and that’s a lot of production to replace.
After that, Snyder and his staff are looking for new faces all over the defense to step up and help make Kansas State a contender again.