The Kansas St. Wildcats surprised the college football world a year ago, running up a 10-3 record and a trip to the Cotton Bowl behind the wizardry of legendary coach Bill Snyder.
Last spring, no one was predicting such a dramatic rise out of KSU. A year later, what's the word around Manhattan? We asked the guys at Bring on the Cats to fill us in on spring ball and give us a preview of what to expect when fall camp opens in August.
1. KSU QB Collin Klein was one of the most valuable players in the country last year, but much of that value came from his battering-ram running. Has he done anything in the offseason to improve his skills as a passer?
He threw for 400+ yards in the spring game, and reports were that his motion looked a little better. But the impressive numbers came against K-State's second-team defense, and the Wildcats left something to be desired against opposing passing attacks last year. Klein will probably be a better passer this year, but nobody's going to mistake him for any of the Big 12's gunslingers. His game will still revolve around the running game.
2. The Wildcats took some huge hits in the secondary from a year ago. How confident are you in the newcomers?
Klein's performance against the second-team defense doesn't inspire a lot of confidence. K-State also lost some important pieces on the defensive line, particularly Ray Kibble, so there probably won't be a lot of pressure on the quarterback to mask the secondary.
Nigel Malone and Ty Zimmerman should be solid returnees in the secondary, but everything else is up for grabs.
3. Tyler Lockett proved to be pretty explosive on special teams, but he was used sparingly as a receiver. Do you see his role expanding in the fall?
Part of his sparing use was a direct result of being a true freshman. First-year players almost always struggle to get up to speed in Bill Snyder's program, so the fact that he got playing time at all speaks to his ability. He was just starting to see regular action when he suffered a lacerated kidney against Oklahoma State. Had that injury not happened, he would have had a lot more opportunities for catches and punt and kick returns.
All indications are that he's healthy and ready to go despite sitting out the spring game, so K-State fans are looking forward to big things from Lockett this season.
4. If you had to pick out one guy who needs a big offseason in terms of hitting the weight room and practicing, who would it be?
We could stand to have someone step up at running back. John Hubert was solid if not spectacular last season, but he's not a big guy and was clearly beaten up toward the end of the regular season. Angelo Pease should be able to provide some depth if, unlike last season, he can stay healthy. DeMarcus Robinson was a four-star recruit out of Wichita but was non-existent last season. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the spring game, giving hope that he could step up.
On defense, K-State needs some help along the defensive line. Meshak Williams is a pass-rush specialist, but we need somebody to step up in the middle and replace Kibble.
5. Could Bill Snyder come in my house if I didn't invite him in?
Yes. The Scheme Doctor is old school, and he will make house calls. He would show up, save one of your loved ones from a life of broken football schemes without you even knowing it, and then would leave with nothing more than a request for a donation to the Kansas Mentors program. You know, to help the youngsters.