2014 Kansas St Preview: What You Need To Know
Kansas State QB Jake Waters & C B.J. Finney
Preview 2014 - What You Need To Know About Kansas State (Getty Images)
What You Need To Know...
Kansas State Preview
What You Need To Know About The Offense: You know what you’re going to get from co-offensive coordinators Dana Dimel and Del Miller, but can you stop it? As always, the attack is going to work around controlling the ball and the clock, and it’s going to take shots down the field when the opportunity is there. QB Jake Waters isn’t the normal Kansas State quarterback in terms of running the ball, but he’s a good, accurate passer who came on as last season closed out. His receiving corps needs some reworking, but Tyler Lockett is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the country and a great No. 1 to start with. The front five should be devastating in the interior with all-stars B.J. Finney at center and Cody Whitehair at one guard making up for the potential concerns at tackle. The biggest hole to fill is at running back with John Hubert gone, but there are a variety of good options to work with – there could be more of a rotation than normal.
What You Need To Know About The Defense: The defense could be among the best since Bill Snyder returned in 2009. Depending on the alignment, and with the help of a few select JUCO transfers, this will be a swarming, attacking group starting with All-America pass rusher Ryan Mueller up front and with a good-looking rotation in the interior. The secondary keeps the big plays to a minimum and has plenty of good hitters to rely on with Randall Evans and Dante Barnett two tough defensive backs to work around. Leading tackler Blake Slaughter is gone, and the linebacking corps is undersized, but it’s active and tough against the run – the athleticism will shine through against the high-powered Big 12 attacks.
Top Ten Players You Need To Know
1. WR/KR Tyler Lockett, Sr.
The silky-smooth speedster turned in a fabulous season as more of a receiver while also continuing to shine as a kick returner. The 5-11, 175-pounder probably would’ve been a top 100 pick had he left early, but he’s back after leading the team with 81 catches for 1,262 yards and 11 touchdowns, while also averaging 26.5 yards per kickoff return. More of a go-to playmaker than he was in 2012 – when he was steady, but not necessarily spectacular – when he got into a groove in the open field, forget it. He ripped Oklahoma up for 278 yards and three touchdowns and caught 13 passes for 237 yards against Oklahoma State, and he managed to show up big in the bowl win over Michigan with ten grabs for 116 yards and three touchdowns. He wasn’t quite as explosive as a kickoff returner like he was in his first two seasons, but teams also tried to stay away from him and did everything possible to keep him contained.
2. DE Ryan Mueller, Sr.
He didn’t exactly come from out of leftfield, but the former walk-on went from being a try-hard, high-motor part of the rotation to an All-America-caliber pass rusher with a fantastic first step and great closing ability. At 6-2 and 245 pounds he’s not all that big, and he’s not the best of athletes, but he’s relentless as well as consistent. He did his best work against the passing teams – getting a combined five sacks against Baylor and Texas Tech – but he also came up with key plays when he wasn’t hitting the quarterback with four forced fumbles and six broken up passes.
3. C B.J. Finney, Sr.
Back at his spot anchoring the line and the running game, the 6-4, 303-pound all-star is big, bruising, and fundamentally sound with the ability to get off the ball in a hurry and generate a big-time push. The three-time All-Big 12 pick is a former walk-on who turned into the rock-steady leader – few centers in college football are better at generating power for the ground attack.
4. QB Jake Waters, Sr.
It was a strange situation trying to replace Collin Klein. Daniel Sams become a more dangerous all-around option, but he wasn’t a passer and he didn’t lead the offense like Waters could. The 6-1, 210-pound senior grew into the starting job as the season went on, completing 61% of his passes for 2,469 yards and 18 touchdowns with nine picks. The former JUCO transfer from Iowa Western CC earned 2012 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors with excellent accuracy and great poise – he brought that to the Wildcats last year, and he appears ready to do even more. No, he’s not Sams or Klein running the ball, but he got loose for 312 yards and six scores. He’s not going to be more of a runner, but he should be even sharper through air – especially with Tyler Lockett to throw to.
5. OG Cody Whitehair, Jr.
Able to play tackle or guard, Whitehair can produce no matter where he’s needed, but after starting every game last year at left guard he’s going to hold down the job again. The 6-5, 309-pound all-star is one of the team’s most physical players, almost being moved over to defensive tackle when he arrived on campus. With good quickness, he gets out and can spring the big play, but he’s at his best when he’s mauling.
6. CB Randall Evans, Sr.
A nice all-around defender, the 6-0, 190-pound veteran turned in a strong year with 59 tackles and a team-leading 12 broken up passes with two picks – he always seemed to come through when challenged. Fantastic in the open field, 52 of his stops were solo including ten against Texas Tech. The former walk-on has been a good hitter throughout his career, and while he should end up getting a starting job at one corner, he could move into a nickel and dime role as a tough third corner – a spot needed against most Big 12 teams.
7. LB Jonathan Truman, Sr.
The team’s second-leading tackler will now push for the job in the middle if he doesn’t end up starting on the weakside. Only 5-11 and 219 pounds, he’s not built to take too much of a pounding, and he doesn’t get into the backfield, but he’s a sure tackler who came up with 89 stops with 4.5 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. A great special teamer early on, he’s always working and always getting around the ball, sticking his nose in anywhere.
8. FB Glenn Gronkowski, Soph.
Yes, he’s Rob’s brother. Built more like an H-back than a true fullback, he’s a good receiver who stretched the field for 194 yards and three scores on his five catches – highlighted by a 67-yard play against Oklahoma State. Not a runner, the 6-3, 234-pounder is an all-star hitter for the ground game, and he’s too dangerous and too athletic to not start getting the ball in his hands more.
9. SS Dante Barnett, Jr.
The 6-1, 186-pound strong safety operated as a good free-lancing sheriff in the secondary next to Ty Zimmerman. Now he’ll be the team’s top safety after finishing second on the team with 75 tackles with a team-leading four picks and three broken up passes. Mostly a special teamer early on in his career, he’s a good, consistent hitter who’ll make the stop in the open field without a problem.
10. DT Travis Britz, Jr.
A strong interior pass rusher, the 6-4, 293-pound junior is quick off the ball and active against the run when he has to slide to make a stop. Good for a few tackles per game and a sack here and there, he came up with 37 tackles with three sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss. Extremely strong, he’s not necessarily an anchor against the run – there are bigger bodies on the line who can do that – but he’ll be the biggest difference-maker in the interior.
- 2014 Kansas State Preview