2012 Kansas State Preview - Offense
2012 CollegeFootballNews.com Preview - Kansas State Wildcat Offense
Kansas State Wildcats
Preview 2012 - Offense
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Kansas State Offense
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What You Need To Know:
The offense was extremely effective considering it finished 101st in the nation and had to fight its way through the high-octane Big 12 wars. Everything will revolve around QB Collin Klein and the running game with an emphasis on ball control, limiting turnovers and more ball control. This spring the passing game started to take flight with Klein starting to open it up a bit, and he should be able to do more with a veteran group of speedy targets to work with. The backfield has good, quick rushing options with John Hubert leading the way, but Klein will do most of the heavy lifting. Time of possession is the key stat – holding on to the ball for almost 34 minutes per game – and after three new starters are settled on up front, the Kansas State attack should be able to grind things out again.
Star of the offense: Senior QB Collin Klein
Passing: Collin Klein
161-281, 1,918 yds, 13 TD, 6 INT
Rushing: Collin Klein
317 carries, 1,141 yds, 27 TD
Receiving: Chris Harper
40 catches, 547 yds, 5 TD
Player who has to step up and be a star: Junior OT William Cooper
Unsung star on the rise: Redshirt freshman OT Cody Whitehair
Best pro prospect: Sophomore WR Tyler Lockett (as a kick returner)
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Klein, 2) RB John Hubert, 3) C B.J. Finney
Strength of the offense: Ball Control, Running Game
Weakness of the offense: Pass Protection, Passing Efficiency
Why wasn’t Collin Klein more in the Heisman discussion? Along with actually leading his team to a win over Robert Griffin III and Baylor, the numbers were staggering on the way to winning the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year over the Heisman winner. Klein wasn’t that bad a passer completing 57% of his passes for 1,918 yards and 13 scores with six picks – highlighted by a 281-yard day against Texas A&M – but it was his rushing ability that was truly special leading the team with 1,141 yards and 27 touchdowns. Unstoppable at times, he rumbled for five scores against the Aggies and had an amazing midseason stretch of six games running for 20 touchdowns. At 6-5 and 226 pounds he’s big and built like a bomber, and while he’ll do more with the passing game this season, he’ll still be a runner. A baller, he’ll do what’s needed to produce, and this season he’s going to get more national respect.
It’ll be a yearlong battle to find Klein’s No. 2 option. 6-2, 211-pound redshirt freshman Daniel Sams is very fast, very athletic and has the ability to be a dangerous dual-threat option. The New Orleans native is a perfect fit for what Kansas State likes to do, while 6-3, 210-pound Tavarius Bender is a true freshman out of Lincoln, Nebraska with excellent size and good passing skills. He not only throws well and accurately, but he can take off and find his way into the end zone, sort of like Klein. Sophomore Sam Johnson is likely going to be the No. 4 man in the mix, but with great quickness he’s being given his shot to show what he can do. At 5-11 and 175 pounds he’s not big, but he can move.
Watch Out For … Klein as a passer. He’s never going to be Tom Brady, but there was a concerted effort this offseason to make him do more through the air. The 47-of-56 day for 480 yards in the spring game might have been inflated, but he’s going to try to add more to the offensive mix.
Strength: Running. Klein is among the most productive and toughest runners in college football, not just running quarterbacks, and all the backup options can move. Kansas State likes to bring in dual-threat options, but in a pinch, the quarterback will take off.
Weakness: Backup experience. Considering Klein took a beating, he was a rock lasting the entire season despite running the ball 317 times. Can he last for another 13 games? It’s asking for a lot, and the backup situation, while promising, is questionable with no experience whatsoever.
Outlook: A question mark going into last year now appears to be something special. Klein is a Heisman-caliber player who’ll be dominant at times, and now he’s throwing a little bit better and should do more to move the offense without getting beaten on. He’ll still be a runner, but he has to make sure he can hold up until the backups get meaningful time.
Unit Rating: 9
There was hope that junior John Hubert would grow into a nice complementary runner to Bryce Brown, but instead he took over and became the main back to take the load off of Collin Klein. While not exactly Darren Sproles, the 5-7, 191-pounder is a speedster with cut-on-a-dime quickness and athleticism rushing for 970 yards and three scores, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. The team’s second-leading receiver and the main outlet option for Klein, he caught 24 passes for 188 yards and a score. While he’ll never be a workhorse, he’s great for double-digit carries per game with 166 yards and a touchdown against Miamian and 126 yards against Missouri.
At a not-a-misprint 5-4 and 174 pounds, junior Robert Rose is impossible to find behind a big line with a darting ability to start and stop on a dime. The Miami native didn’t get much work last season with just 35 yards on nine carries, but he’s likely going to take on a bigger role behind Hubert.
Bringing more size to the mix will be 5-11, 185-pound senior Angelo Pease, a tough back who got the starting nod against Texas A&M and finished the year third on the team with 144 yards and two scores averaging four yards per carry. A star JUCO transfer from Hutchinson CC, he can work under center as a pure runner if needed and should be more of factor to keep Hubert healthy. He could work as a kick returner if needed.
6-4, 254-pound senior Braden Wilson pounded away for the ground game and was terrific at blasting away for Klein. The unsung star of the ground attack, he’s a terrific blocker who started in five games and spent the season hitting people. He’ll almost never carry the ball with just five carries for 15 yards and two catches for 14 yards, but he’s a key cog who makes a big impact.
Watch Out For … Pease. Kansas State is never afraid to run its star, No. 1 back into the ground, but there might be a bit more of a rotation. Pease is good enough to get the ball more, and Rose is too intriguing to not get more of a shot.
Strength: The offense. It’s Kansas State. There will always be a ground game. Klein will take all the heat off as the main man in the rushing equation, but the more Hubert and the backs can do, the better. The Wildcats will find a way to get to close to 200 rushing yards per game.
Weakness: Big power. Outside of the fullbacks, the KSU backs don’t necessarily blast away. Klein is a powerful runner who isn’t afraid to get tough, and while Hubert doesn’t shy away from contact, he’s not built to take a pounding.
Outlook: The backs have extreme quickness and lots of interesting options, but the star of the ground game is going to be Klein, or anyone who ends up working under center. Hubert will get around 200 carries again and should be a threat for 1,000 yards, but he doesn’t have to shoulder all of the workload. The production will come from anyone who runs the ball.
Unit Rating: 7.5
The Wildcats need more from the receivers and that starts with senior Chris Harper, the team’s leading receiver who made 40 catches for 547 yards and five scores, highlighted by a 134-yard day against Texas A&M. While he doesn’t necessarily look the part at 6-1 and 229 pounds, he’s a tremendous athlete who can stretch the field and average close to 14 yards per play. The former Oregon Duck and former quarterback is the No. 1 target, and he should be on the verge of doing far more with the passing game expected to improve.
Can Tyler Lockett be healthy? The 5-11, 175-pound speedster caught 18 passes for 246 yards and three scores, but he was truly special as a kickoff returner averaging 35.2 yards per try with two touchdowns. The Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year suffered a lacerated kidney and missed the final four games of the season, and he was dinged up this offseason, but he has the deep speed to stretch the field more and the talent to be used from time to time as a runner after handling the ball ten times for 110 yards with a 57-yard dash against Oklahoma State.
5-8, 167-pound junior Tramaine Thompson isn’t all that big, but he’s extremely quick and very, very fast. Mostly a special teamer so far, leading the team with 12.3 yards per punt return and averaging 19.3 yards per kickoff try, he needs to be even more of a factor on offense after finishing fourth on the team with 21 catches for 338 yards and a score, averaging 16.1 yards per catch. The potential is there to battle Lockett to be the team’s most explosive target.
Several receivers will be in the rotation to try to add more pop, led by 5-11, 186-pound sophomore Curry Sexton, who wasn’t necessarily a top recruit but is a good blocker who can move a little bit. With good hands and great running skills he could be dangerous in the open field after catching four passes for 43 yards, while 6-2, 214-pound junior Torell Miller is a big target who got in a little work catching four passes for 54 yards. The former defensive back is physical, but he needs to be a bigger part of the rotation. Meanwhile, redshirt freshman Kyle Klein, brother of Collin Klein, will be a part of the mix this season after moving over from the defensive side. The former safety has 6-3, 217-pound size and will be a physical target, but he needs time.
6-3, 253-pound senior Travis Tannahill is a big, strong blocker who has the experience, tools and size to do far more. The receiving ability is there, but he needs the ball to start coming his way with just ten catches for 104 yards and a score last season after making seven grabs in 2010. He’ll combine with 6-8, 264-pound junior Andre McDonald, who plays like a third offensive tackle at times while providing a matchup problem making nine catches for 136 yards with his only score coming in the Cotton Bowl. A big hitter, he’ll do a little more.
Watch Out For … Lockett. Harper is the No. 1 and Thompson can be a big play star, but Lockett has the wheels and ability to be special if he gets the ball more in space. The kickoff return production has to move over to the offensive side.
Strength: Speed. Kansas State never lacks for wheels, and this group can fly. Along with being athletic and along with having the potential to come up with huge plays, it’s a veteran corps that will know what it’s doing. Counting running back John Hubert, six of the top seven pass catchers are back.
Weakness: Big plays. There were a few now and then, but considering the emphasis placed on the running game there should’ve been more wide open chances hit the home run. Something big should happen with Kansas State throws the ball; it’s not okay to average just 11.8 yards per catch.
Outlook: With experience and with more of an emphasis on throwing the ball, the Kansas State passing game should be better. No, the Wildcats aren’t going to wing the ball all around the yard like other Big 12 teams, but they should be more balanced and they should be able to crank out even more big plays.
Unit Rating: 6.5
The Kansas State line is always a disaster in pass protection, but that’s partly because the quarterbacks get caught on a regular basis trying to make something happen. It’s a great front five for the running game, and this year it’ll all start in the middle with sophomore B.J. Finney as the anchor. An All-Big 12 performer in his first year, he’s a mauler of a blocker for the ground game with great size and surprising quickness off the ball. The former walk-on has the potential to be the best center in the league with the talent and ability to blast away for Collin Klein and the ground attack. He started out last year at left guard before moving to the middle after the season opener, and now he’s one of only two returning starters up front.
Senior Nick Puetz was a big JUCO transfer who stepped in at left guard when Finney took over and came up with a tremendous year. The 12-game starter has 6-3, 304-pound size and ridiculous strength as a near-perfect run blocker for what the offense wants to do. He can move a little bit, too.
Who’ll take over at left tackle? 6-4, 295-pound junior William Cooper is a very smart, very athletic blocker who’ll finally get his shot. All the tools are there to be a terrific pass protector on the outside, but he has to be consistent. Meanwhile, 6-9, 322-pound junior Cornelius Lucas is a massive pass protector who worked mostly as a special teamer and could take over if Cooper struggles. He has been around long enough, and he has a big enough frame, to start being a factor.
There will be a battle for the right tackle job to take over for 13-game starter Clyde Aufner. Senior Manase Foketi started every game at tackle two years ago but was knocked out for the year early on. While he still might get a shot at left tackle after returning from his foot injury, the 6-5, 325-pounder will likely get a long look on the right side but could quickly move back to his old spot if he’s back to form. Also in the fight for the right tackle job will be 6-3, 300-pound redshirt freshman Cody Whitehair, a promising blocker with good size and good toughness. Also able to possibly move to defensive tackle if absolutely needed, he’ll find a job somewhere on one of the lines before his career is up.
6-4, 306-pound redshirt freshman Boston Stiverson and 6-4, 290-pound junior Keenan Taylor will battle it out for the right guard job, but either one could move to the left side in a pinch. Stiverson has the size and the toughness to be a big factor right away, and if he ends up starting, he’ll be a key part of the blocking puzzle for the next four years. The talent is there to be great, while Taylor has a little bit of experience after seeing backup time and work on the special teams over the last few seasons. He was a good recruit for the program who hasn’t quite been able to pan out, but he’s getting his chance this season.
Watch Out For … the battles at tackle. If Foketi is back to 100% he might be the answer at one of the spots, but he’s hardly a sure thing to get the starting job. It could be a big battle for jobs up until the start of the season.
Strength: Run blocking. It’s an easy job for the Kansas State linemen; see guy, hit guy. The coaching staff always finds ways to load up with really big, really strong hitters who open up holes on a consistent basis. However, there’s always a problem with …
Weakness: Pass protection. Yes, many times Klein was dropped for a sack when he was holding on to the ball trying to make things happen, but allowing 43 sacks was still a problem. Considering that tackle is an issue, the pass protection might be a bit sketchy again.
Outlook: The line will be fine. Three spots might be up in the air, but left guard and center are set and the Wildcats always seem to find fill-ins who can step up and get the job done without a problem. The ground game will work, the pass blocking will be a problem, and the offense will be just fine once the coaching staff settles on its starting five.
Unit Rating: 6.5
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Kansas State Offense
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