Preview 2017: Kansas State Wildcats

Preview 2017: Kansas State Wildcats

Big 12

Preview 2017: Kansas State Wildcats


Preview 2017: Kansas State Wildcats

Previewing and looking ahead at the Kansas State Wildcats season – and what you need to know.

Contact @PeteFiutak

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2017 Kansas State Preview: Slow & Steady Still Works
2017 Kansas State Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Kansas State Previews: 2016 | 2015

What You Need To Know About The Kansas State Offense

As always, the Kansas State offense is going to be brutally efficient and effective running the ball.

With dual-threat quarterback Jesse Ertz pounding away behind all-star FB Winston Dimel and brutish blocking TE Dayton Valentine, controlling the clock and cranking up third down conversions won’t be a problem. Losing top running back Charles Jones will hurt a wee bit, but it’s Kansas State – there are more effective backs waiting in the wings.

The O line should be a killer. Great last season, now it’ll be a dominant force with four starters back to a group that was considered a way-too-young negative going into last year. With all-stars Reid Najvar at center and Dalton Risner at one tackle spot, this is going to be a major plus.

Can the passing game at least be a little more efficient? Byron Pringle is one of the Big 12’s most dangerous return men and receivers, leading a good corps with four of the top five wideouts back. Now …

Biggest Key To The Kansas State Offense

Yeah, again, the passing game needs to be a little more efficient. It was a whole lot better than in 2015 – when Ertz was hurt early on – and it doesn’t have to bomb away like it did with Jake Waters running the show in 2013 and 2014, but the offense has to hit on the chances that are there.

Everyone loads up to stop the K-State ground attack, and it’s up to Ertz to crank up the deep shots after the O averaged just 6.6 yards per throw. There’s too much speed on the outside to not hit more home runs. The Cats went 5-0 last season when averaging seven yards or more per toss.

What You Need To Know About The Kansas State Defense

Defensive coordinator Tom Hayes came up with a strong season, with the defense overcoming problems against the better passing teams in the Big 12 – everyone gave up big yards against the top passers – and stuffing the run, allowing a mere 115 yards per game.

The phenomenal linebacking corps has to be replaced, losing Elijah Lee early to the NFL along with Charmeachealle Moore. Fortunately, the defensive front four should be a killer around Will Geary on the inside and pass rushing Reggie Walker on the end.

The secondary might need to tighten up a bit, but it’s got an Allstar at one corner in D.J. Reed and an excellent safety in Kendall Adams to help make up for the loss of star safety Dante Barnett.

However, it’ll be all about the linebacking corps early on, using more of a nickel defender against all the top passing teams, but needing Trent Tanking to lead the way to help out the front seven – or six, depending on the alignment.

Biggest Key To The Kansas State Defense

Come up with a few more big stops against the better passing teams. You always have to blow off the stats in the Big 12 considering all the high-powered passing attacks, but there’s a difference between giving up 457 yards to an Oklahoma State, and allowing Mason Rudolph and company complete 76% of their passes and 12 yards per pop.

The same went for the Oklahoma game, allowing 372 yards, but with Baker Mayfield hitting 81% of his throws and averaging close to 12 yards a toss. West Virginia’s Skyler Howard wasn’t on, but the one other loss came to Stanford, who couldn’t throw deep, but completed 15-of-19 throws.

Kansas State Will Be Far Better If …

The penalties stop. Part of the Kansas State formula is to own the clock, own the turnover margin, dominate on special teams and don’t make the big mistakes. It was fourth in the nation in turnover margin, held the ball for way over 32 minutes a game, and had one of the best return and kicking games in college football. But there were too many penalties.

The Wildcats were hit with 88 flags for 710 yards, which weren’t the end of the world, but that’s after getting flagged just 66 times the year before and 57 in 2014. The sins were the most by far since 2009 when they were tagged 84 times.

Best Kansas State Offensive Player

QB Jesse Ertz, Sr. – The 6-3, 212-pounder had no luck whatsoever with injuries, suffering a knee injury right out of the gate in 2015, but it happened early enough to heal up and be ready to go last year.

He turned in a strong season in the Kansas State system, hitting 58% of his throws for just 1,755 yards and nine scores, but he only threw four picks and ran for 1,012 yards with 12 scores. While it’ll be hard to make a whole lot of noise in a conference with Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph, he should be one of the league’s best all-around quarterbacks.

2. WR Byron Pringle, Jr.
3. FB Winston Dimel, Jr.
4. OT Dalton Risner, Jr.
5. C Reid Najvar, Sr.

Best Kansas State Defensive Player

CB D.J. Reed, Jr. – The do-it-all corner isn’t that big at just 5-9 and 188 pounds, but he’s a baller’s baller. A JUCO transfer after starting out at Fresno State, he stepped in and earned All-Big 12 honors coming up with three picks – taking one for a key score in the win over Texas Tech – with 16 broken up passes, while finishing tied for second on the team with 75 tackles.

2. DT Will Geary, Sr.
3. S Kendall Adams, Jr.
4. DE Reggie Walker, Soph.
5. CB Duke Shelley, Jr.

Key Player To A Successful Season

QB Jesse Ertz, Sr. – Alex Delton is a good-looking quarterback in the Kansas State mold. He might not be quite as tall, but he’s a great runner with good passing upside – and the offense struggled to move the ball this spring when starter Jesse Ertz was out recovering from a shoulder surgery.

Ertz isn’t going to be Lamar Jackson when it comes to being a top playmaker, but he was finally right last season, and the offense started to click like it was supposed to. If Ertz is able to cut down on the picks, he should be the perfect leader for a veteran offense full of upside to be even more Kansas Statey.

The Kansas State Season Will Be A Success If …

It gets to the Big 12 Championship. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State might be better, but the Wildcats have enough talent in place and a favorable enough schedule to somehow finish in the top two and get to Arlington on December 2nd. Finishing third in the conference regular season would realistically be a success for this team, but in the new world of the title game, it’ll feel a little empty.

Key Game To The Kansas State Season

Oct. 7 at Texas – It’s going to be a season full of Tom Herman prove-it moments. The Longhorns will be looking at this as a must-win in a bounceback season, but Kansas State could potentially take off with a win.

It’s the lone road game in the first four Big 12 dates, with road games at Kansas and Texas Tech to follow. Win this, and considering Oklahoma is in the home mix, a 5-1 conference start is possible.

2016 Kansas State Fun Stats

– Red Zone Scores: Kansas State 57-of-62 (92%) – Opponents 28-of-36 (78%)
– Onside Kicks: Opponents 3-for-3 – Kansas State 1-for-2
– Opponents 3rd Quarter Points: 47 – Opponents 4th Quarter Points: 106

2017 Kansas State Preview: Slow & Steady Still Works
2017 Kansas State Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
– Kansas State Previews: 2016 | 2015


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