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Kansas State Preview 2016: The Wild Card Wildcats

The Kansas State football outlook for 2016 season. The team might not have a whole bunch of pizzazz, but this might be Bill Snyder’s best team in years.

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Kansas State was able to somehow win six games last year when it didn’t do much of anything right. It was able to win nine when it came up with an out-of-character passing season the year prior. This isn’t the way it’s supposed to go, but it’s still all sort of working.

Kansas State doesn’t have any real talent. Only four Wildcats have been selected in the last three NFL Drafts, and just 10 have been picked up over the last decade, but that’s not really the point. Under Bill Snyder, K-State has been able to find its style and find the right players to fit what it wants to do, and that’s what makes the recent run so puzzling.

The program has won six games or more in every season since 2008 with Snyder doing a whale of a job during his second stint in Manhattan, but again, this hasn’t quite gone the way it’s supposed to, even if the results are there.

If everything is humming, Kansas State is running well, grinding down the clock, owning the time of possession, not making a slew of mistakes, winning the turnover battle, not getting penalized, dominating on special teams, hitting the third down plays, and control, control, control, control, control.

The 2015 team suffered a rash of quarterback injuries early on, and it was trying to find its way without 185 catches from Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton, all with Joe Hubener doing what he could under center. The Wildcats won the games they were supposed to win, came up with the one win they had to get – West Virginia – to become bowl eligible, and lost all the games they were supposed to. This time around, they should be able to be more Kansas State-like.

Hubener is a nice option, but now the offense has Jesse Ertz and Alex Delton back and healthy to provide a strong quarterback battle this fall. The backs are in place, there are more dangerous options at receiver this time around, and the line should be fine in time – this is where the whole benefit-of-the-doubt side of the coaching staff comes into play.

The big difference this year should be a defense that was okay at times, but finished 105th in the nation and couldn’t do anything to handle some of the conference’s high-octane offenses. The front seven is going to be outstanding – especially at linebacker – with the normal array of try-hard veterans who always end up owning the All-Big 12 teams when everything is going right.

The secondary that got shelled last season will be far, far better with safety Dante Barnett returning along with a strong mix of talents. This group will be better on third downs and won’t be 120th in the nation again in pass defense – K-State was 64th in 2014.

The offense will be better, the defense will be better, and Bill Snyder is still Bill Snyder.

Turning 77 this season, Snyder is already in the College Football Hall of Fame, and he’s already erased the lousy end to his first go-round. And while every year seems to be recognized as his last big season before finally hanging them up, he just keeps on rolling.

So if this is it, why not go out with one of his best teams in years? Again, this should be the type of roster that does things in a way that made the program such a power, and in this year of Big 12 uncertainty, the pieces are there to come up with something magical.

There doesn’t have to be a ton of flash win big – if it’s all done the Kansas State way.