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2007 Kansas State Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 18, 2007


Preview 2007 Kansas State Wildcats

Kansas State Wildcats

Preview 2007

By Michael Bradley & Pete Fiutak

- 2007 Kansas State Offense Preview | 2007 Kansas State Defense Preview
-
2007 Kansas State Depth Chart | 2006 CFN Kansas State Preview 

Forget what you saw in that ugly Texas Bowl wipeout loss to Rutgers. At least the game was played in the relative anonymity of the NFL Network.

Don’t pay much attention to the regular-season-ending defeat at Kansas, either. That might have stung, but at least KSU fans could mask the sting of losing by teasing their rivals that they – and not the Jayhawks – would be participating in the post-season.

Head coach: Ron Prince
2nd yea: 7-6
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 28, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best KSU Players
1. LB/DE Ian Campbell, Jr.
2. QB Josh Freeman, Soph.
3. FS Marcus Watts, Sr.
4. WR Jordy Nelson, Sr.
5. DE Rob Jackson, Sr.
6. RB Leon Patton, Soph.
7  RB James Johnson, Sr.
8. P Tim Reyer, Sr.
9. CB Justin McKinney, Sr.
10. TE Rashaad Norwood, Sr.

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6

Sept. 1

at Auburn

Sept. 8

San Jose State

Sept. 15

Missouri State

Sept. 29

at Texas

Oct. 6

Kansas

Oct. 13

Colorado

Oct. 20

at Oklahoma State

Oct. 27

Baylor

Nov. 3

at Iowa State

Nov. 10

at Nebraska

Nov. 17

Missouri

Nov. 24

at Fresno State

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
4-8
2006 Record: 7-6

Preview 2006 predicted wins

9/2 Illinois State  W 24-23
9/9 Florida Atlantic W 45-0
9/16 Marshall W 23-7
9/23 Louisville L 24-6
9/30 at Baylor L 17-3
10/7 Oklahoma State W 31-27
10/14 Nebraska L 21-3
10/21 at Missouri L 41-21
10/28 Iowa State W 31-10
11/4 at Colorado W 34-21
11/11 Texas W 45-42
11/18 at Kansas L 39-20
12/28 Texas Bowl
Rutgers L 37-10

If you want to focus on the Wildcats’ 2006 season, look at the stretch from late October through mid-November when KSU won three in a row, including a signature triumph over Texas. Sure, the Longhorns were without Colt McCoy (who was knocked out of the game), but beating Texas is still beating Texas. For a team picked by many to be the absolute dregs of the Big 12 North to win seven games and advance to a bowl is quite an accomplishment, and bolsters the case for Ron Prince being the right man for the job in Manhattan.
       
A lot of people have made strong openings. The real work comes now. The difference between five wins (KSU’s 2005 total) and seven wins is far less than the area that must be covered to go from seven to nine or ten. That’s where the real money is made.

Prince’s second-year plan will contain some of the same components that characterized his first season. There are eight junior-college transfers included in this year’s recruiting class, offering immediate help along the offensive line and bringing some much-needed speed to the equation. Meanwhile, all the young new starters from last year are now seasoned veterans. The question is whether Kansas State is ready for more.

The short answer is no. The program still needs more talent across the board, and needs quarterback Josh Freeman, who was given the starting job midway through the season, to continue his development and cut back on the poor decisions that led to 16 interceptions (versus six touchdowns). Patience…patience.

Last year was a tremendous first step, and now Prince and the Wildcats have to keep progressing. They might not make the overnight jump into Big 12 championship territory, but the Wildcats might be closer than anyone could’ve expected last year at this time.

What to look for on offense: The Wildcats will try to be better running the football, no matter how good Freeman is. But there was one big reason for importing the JUCO linemen: the franchise player at QB needs time to work his magic. With the return of Leon Patton and James Johnson, the running game will be excellent, but the season depends on Freeman. He must cut back on mistakes and be more consistent.

What to look for on defense: Expect an across-the-board improvement in a unit that wasn’t great last year. KSU is going to get pressure on the quarterback and force turnovers. What it must focus on are defensive basics, like shutting down the run better (opponents had a 4.1-yard average), and cutting down a 58.3% completion success rate. Do that, and some of those blowout losses (no loss by fewer than 14 points) will quickly become much tighter.

This team will be much better if… it can fine-tune the passing game. Because Freeman was learning on the job, KSU was ranked 106th in passing efficiency last year. In fairness, Dylan Meier, whom he replaced, wasn’t too sharp, either. A high completion rate (51.9%) and fewer interceptions will make a big difference.

The Schedule: Talk about your measuring-stick games: KSU starts out the year at Auburn, with a chance to show how far things have come under Prince, and/or how far the program still has to go. The rest of the non-conference slate isn’t bad, as San Jose State and Missouri State visit Manhattan, but the regular season ends with a trip to Fresno State. Getting a home game against Baylor is a break, but South road trips to Texas and Oklahoma State make up for it. Three of the last four games, and four of the last six, are away from Manhattan, including key North dates against Iowa State and Nebraska.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Josh Freeman. Coming into last season, Freeman was a top recruit who was expected to wait and learn as he practiced behind Dylan Meier. Allan Evridge and Allen Webb transferred, and Meier didn’t do much over the first five games. Freeman wasn’t consistent and he showed he had a long, long way to go, but he also showed his limitless potential, with a great arm and decent mobility. He has the size and skills to eventually be special.

Best Defensive Player: Junior DE Ian Campbell. One of the breakout stars of 2005, Campbell went from an unknown backup to an unstoppable pass-rushing machine, making 11.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. While his 6-5, 232-pound frame makes him more of an end, he’s quick enough to play outside linebacker if needed.

Key player to a successful season: Freeman. Soon he’ll be an All-Big 12 superstar capable of carrying the program to national prominence all by himself. It might not be this year, since he still has a long way to go in his development and consistency, but the more he’s able to be the calm, cool leader who averaged 254 yards per game over the last three regular season outings, and the less he’s like the 10-for-21, two-interception passer in the bowl loss to Rutgers, the faster Kansas State will get to where it wants to be.

The season will be a success if ... the Wildcats win eight games. It might take a bowl win to do it, but the goal is to keep improving. If last year’s young, inexperienced team could scratch and claw its way to seven wins, this year’s squad should be able to find a way to win eight and be more of a factor in the North race. While winning the division is still out of reach, there’s no reason this team can’t come close.

Key game: Oct. 20 at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys are loaded and poised for a big season, and if KSU can go into Stillwater and pull off the win, it’ll be a big step forward to a bowl bid. It could also be a key win in a nice stretch, as it’s the only road game after home dates with Kansas and Colorado and before a home battle with Baylor.

2006 Fun Stats: 
- Kansas State first quarter scoring: 38; Kansas State fourth quarter scoring: 100
- Penalties: Kansas State 89 for 732 yards; Opponents 63 for 525 yards
- Red zone touchdowns: Kansas State 12 of 32 (38%); Opponents 26 of 50 (52%)

 

Related Stories
2007 Kansas State Preview - Offense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 18, 2007
2007 Kansas State Preview - Defense
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 18, 2007
2007 Kansas State Preview - Depth Chart
 -by CollegeFootballNews.com  Jul 18, 2007








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