Kansas State Preview 2006

Posted Jul 31, 2006

Bill Snyder might have left Kansas State, but the legacy continues.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

No, not the legacy of tough overacheiving teams with a killer quarterback and talented running back who put up huge numbers against horrific non-conference slates while occasionally stunning Big 12 big names. The legacy of secrecy.

New head coach Ron Prince has done a fantastic job of not revealing his hand when it comes to his depth chart, his offense, or just about anything else he has plans for with his team. One thing's for sure: Kansas State will be better than it has been in recent seasons.

After years of success under Snyder, but no Big 12 titles, the program reached the summit with the 2003 Big 12 title victory over Oklahoma to finally complete one of the greatest rags to riches stories in college football history. And then it went plummeting to also-ran status losing 14 of the next 23 games with the most impressive victory coming in Snyder's finale against Missouri. So why did everything go so wrong?

Talent, or a lack of it.

Head coach: Ron Prince
1st year
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 21, Def. 16, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best KSU Players
1. LB Brandon Archer, Sr.
2. FS Marcus Watts, Jr.
3. WR Jordy Nelson, Jr.
4. RB Thomas Clayton, Sr.
5. QB Dylan Meier, Sr.
6. WR/KR Yamon Figurs, Sr.
7. DT Quintin Echols, Sr.
8. OG Greg Wafford, Sr.
9. CB Bryan Baldwin, Jr.
10. QB Josh Freeman, Fr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 Illinois State
9/9 Florida Atlantic
9/16 Marshall
9/23 Louisville
9/30 at Baylor
10/7 Oklahoma State
10/14 Nebraska
10/21 at Missouri
10/28 Iowa State
11/4 at Colorado
11/11 Texas
11/18 at Kansas

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record: 5-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 FIU W 35-21
9/10 at Marshall W 21-19
9/24 North Texas W 54-7
10/1 at Oklahoma L 43-21
10/8 Kansas W 12-3
10/15 at Texas Tech L 59-20
10/22 Texas A&M L 30-28
10/29 Colorado L 23-20
11/5 at Iowa State L 45-17
11/12 at Nebraska L 27-25
11/19 Missouri W 36-28

27 Wildcats were drafted from 1999 to 2003, and then got through the 2003 season by beating a boatload of mediocre teams before getting hot at the end of the year thanks to Darren Sproles and Ell Roberson, but only two players off that team were drafted in 2004. Sproles was the only one taken in 2005 and tackle Jeromey Clary was the only one taken in last year's draft. Has the talent level really dropped off that much? 

That should change under Prince as he started to show right off the bat that he can recruit by snagging potential superstars like quarterback Josh Freeman and JUCO running back James Johnson and wide receiver Cedric Wilson. And that's just for starters.

The new excitement surrounding the coaching staff, along with the air of mystery about what this team really might be like, makes Kansas State one of the wild-cards in the Big 12 race. The receiving corps can fly, the defense will likely go to an even more aggressive than before scheme, and there are plenty of interesting options to work with in the offensive backfield.

While the lines need at least a year of seasoning and several major position battles still need to be settled, a little bit of tweaking and a little more production could mean a return to the days of winning seasons and going to bowls. Last year's team lost three games by a total of seven points and still went 5-6. This isn't a North title contender, but the train should be back on the right track.

The Schedule: It's Kansas State, so you know the cupcakes are coming. The Ron Prince era should get off to a flying start with Illinois State and Florida Atlantic, but Marshall should be a bit of a challenge and Louisville will be a true battle. If the Wildcats can get by the Cardinals, not only will is signify that the program is back to top 20 status, but it'll mean a 6-0 start is likely before facing Nebraska. While the Wildcats don't have the firepower to beat Texas, that doesn't come until mid-November. Playing Baylor and Oklahoma State from the South is a nice gift for Prince.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Jordy Nelson. Nelson went from being a defensive back prospect to a next-level caliber wide receiver in a few short months. He's an explosive 6-3, 210-pound playmaker who led the team in receiving last season and should flourish with more of an emphasis on the passing game.

Best Defensive Player:
Senior LB Brandon Archer. It has been hard for Archer to get noticed in a league full of tremendous linebackers, but his stats this year might be too impressive to ignore. He'll get more room to roam moving from the strongside to the weakside and will have more responsibility than ever. Expect him to be one of the team's top pass rushers.

Key player to a successful season: The entire offensive line. Tackles Derek Meyer and Gerard Spexarth, guard Matt Boss, John Hafferty, Greg Wafford and Caleb Handy, and centers Ryan Schmidt and Jordan Bedore have to form a more solid run blocking unit while providing far more protection than last season. Injuries were a major issue, and now with everyone healthy, there's good competition at each spot. The faster this group comes together, the better the chance for a great year.

The season will be a success if ... KSU gets back to a bowl game. There are plenty of holes and too much young talent to count on for a big season, but the schedule is breezy enough to fall into five wins by simply showing up. An upset over a team like Iowa State, Nebraska or Kansas will mean a 13th game.

Key game: Sept. 23 vs. Louisville. Of course, the Big 12 battles will mean the most, but a win over Louisville, who might be in the top ten, would show that this doesn't have to be a rebuilding year. Confidence could mean everything to this young team before dealing with Nebraska and a road trip to Missouri.

2005 Fun Stats: 
- First quarter scoring: Opponents 74 - Kansas State 49
- Fumbles: Opponents 25, lost 14 - Kansas State 24, lost 16
- Interceptions thrown: Kansas State 12 - Opponents 8

The Last Time Kansas State…
…played in a bowl game…2003 (Fiesta Bowl vs. Ohio State)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2003 (Iowa State)
…was shutout…1996 (Colorado)
…scored 50 points…2005 (North Texas)
…went undefeated…never
…won a conference title…2003 (Big 12)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2004 (Darren Sproles)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…2003 (James Terry)
…had a first-round draft choice…2003 (CB Terence Newman)

Related Stories
Kansas State Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 31, 2006
Kansas State Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 31, 2006
Kansas State Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 31, 2006

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