College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice. So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers. Today, we look at Kansas State, which starts spring practice this Wednesday.
Spring Practice Question: Anybody want to play some defense?
On a lot of levels, 2010 should be considered nothing but a success for Kansas State. A team that many people saw finishing near the bottom of the Big 12 North (RIP) ended the regular season 7-5, and should have finished the year 8-5 had it not had a win in the Pinstripe Bowl stolen from its grasp by the officials on a bogus celebration penalty.
Seriously, I have absolutely no connection to Kansas State yet I'm still bitter about the ending of that game. I was half-tempted to do this whole primer as a "Can Kansas State figure out ways to celebrate without referees noticing in 2011?"
Anyway, let's put the past in the past, and look toward the future. There are plenty of questions that Kansas State will have to answer before the season starts. Most notably, how does Bill Snyder find a way to replace both Chase Coffman and Daniel Thomas? Neither will be easy, especially when you consider that the Wildcats second-leading rusher was Collin Klein, who was a quarterback and will now play wide receiver in 2011.
Still, as important as it is to find a new quarterback and running back. If I had to make a prediction, I'd go with Justin Tuggle at quarterback because nobody loves juco transfers more than Bill Snyder. At running back I'd go with Bryce Brown, provided that Bryce doesn't transfer four more times before the season starts.
More important than either of those decisions, in my opinion, will be the Kansas State defense. More importantly, will Kansas State have a defense in 2011?
Yes, the Wildcats exceeded expectations last year, but if they are to match the success of 2010 or improve upon it, then the defense will have to have a much better season. The Wildcats had the worst defense in the Big 12 last season, and gave up more rushing yards (3,008!) than any other defense in the country. Not the Big 12, the country. It came in 120th of 120 teams.
Now I should point out that while Kansas State gave up a lot of yardage on defense last year, as far as points went, the Wildcats weren't terrible. They checked in 78th nationally with 29.1 points per game.
Still, imagine how much lower that number would have been if the Wildcats knew how to tackle.
The one area that Kansas State actually did well in was in its pass defense, where it allowed only 212.25 yards a game. Of course, the question there is was it the ability of the Kansas State secondary, or just the fact that teams didn't need to throw much considering they could just break off 10 yards on every run. I'm guessing it was a bit of both, as opposing offenses completed only 55% of their passes against the Wildcats, which was the best mark in the Big 12. Which should continue in to 2011 as two of the secondary's best, David Garrett and Tysyn Hartman, are both back.
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On the defensive line, Kansas State loses Prizell Brown who led the team in sacks with 5 and made 42 tackles last season, 7 for a loss. It will be up to Raphael Guidry and Brandon Harold to step up and replace Brown in 2011.
Now, obviously, you can't take a defense that gave up so many yards last season and turn them into an elite unit only a season later. If defensive coordinator Chris Cosh can pull that off, then give him a huge raise and a head coaching position somewhere else in 2012. At the same time, however, it'll be hard for Kansas State not to improve on defense.
And with an offense that has so many questions heading into the season, it's going to have to.