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2007 Kansas State Preview - Offense

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jul 18, 2007


Preview 2007 Kansas State Wildcat Offense

Kansas State Wildcats

Preview 2007 - Offense

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

What you need to know: Call this another stepping stone season. The offensive line is ridiculously deep, but without much appreciable talent. The receiving corps has a slew of good prospects coming in, and four good tight ends, but can only count on deep threat Jordy Nelson to deliver. The 1-2 rushing punch of Leon Patton and James Johnson is scary-good, but there's absolutely no one behind them. And then there's the quarterback situation, which was a plus going into last year with several good players in a battle, but now is Josh Freeman and no safety net. Freeman has the talent to be a superstar, but hasn't been remotely consistent. When he's not on, it's over. It's not all doom and gloom. There's a ton of athleticism, and Freeman, Patton, Johnson and Nelson will have games when they're unstoppable, just not enough of them.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Josh Freeman
140-270, 1,780 yds, 6 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: Leon Patton
108 carries, 609 yds, 6 TD
Receiving:
Jordy Nelson
39 catches, 547 yds, 1 TD

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Josh Freeman
Player that has to step up and become a star: Freeman
Unsung star on the rise: Junior OT Alesana Alesana
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Jordy Nelson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Nelson, 2) RB Leon Patton, 3) Freeman
Strength of the offense: 1-2 rushing punch, tight end
Weakness of the offense:
Offensive line, quarterback consistency, depth everywhere but on the line

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter
:
Considering he completed just 52% of his passes, stunk up the joint at times, and threw for just six touchdowns with 15 interceptions, there's a whole bunch of buzz about true sophomore Josh Freeman. At 6-6 and 230 pounds with excellent mobility and a cannon for an arm, he has all the tools to grow into a great one. However, he's not remotely close to being there yet. After brilliant performances over a three-week stretch, with wins over Iowa State, Colorado and his breakout game against Texas, he was awful in loses to Kansas and Rutgers with five interceptions and no touchdown passes. He followed that up with a rough off-season complete with a clunker of a spring game. While he's still a work in progress, the upside is limitless.

Projected Top Reserve: It's Freeman's job for the next three years, but that doesn't mean 6-2, 200-pound redshirt freshman Carson Coffman won't see time. The brother of Missouri star tight end, Chase, Carson has a nice arm and excellent accuracy. He's not going to run much, but he could be a steadier passing option if Freeman regresses even more.

Watch Out For ... Freeman to have just enough wow moments to keep anyone from thinking of benching him. Everyone will have to live through the mistakes.
Strength: Freeman's upside. With his skills, he has the potential to eventually become the Big 12's biggest star. Eventually.
Weakness: Passing. Freeman will be inconsistent at best, Coffman hasn't thrown a pass in live action, and it'll be up to true freshman Tysyn Hartman to provide a third option. Uh oh.
Outlook: It's this simple. When Freeman is good, Kansas State will win. When he's bad, he'll be really bad and everything else will have to go perfectly to come up with wins. There's no denying his talent, but it would've been nice to have had Allan Evridge, who's now competing for the starting job at Wisconsin, to have around.
Rating:
6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starter
:
Sort of lost in the shuffle, and a bit overweight, senior James Johnson finished second on the team with 403 yards and two touchdowns. Now, the 5-11, 200-pound former JUCO transfer appears ready to explode and become one of the team's most dangerous weapons. It took half the season, but he eventually broke out with 127 yards against Missouri, 115 against Iowa State and 63 against Colorado over a three-game stretch before being relegated to second team duty over the final three games. If he can consistently bring it every time out, he'll be a 100-yard back whenever he gets 20 carries.

Projected Top Reserve: If Johnson isn't the main man, then true sophomore Leon Patton will be. A 5-7, 184-pound speed back with more power than he gets credit for, he led the way with 609 yards and six touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry, to go along with ten catches for 126 yards. He was a flash of lightning against Oklahoma State with 21 carries for 151 yards and a score, and had two other 100-yard performances along with a 96-yard day against Colorado. Along with his running back duties, he's an elite kickoff returner averaging 32.1 yards per try.

Watch Out For ... Johnson to play like he was supposed to coming into last season. After undergoing a good conditioning program, he's stronger and should be tougher. He'll be the back Wildcat fans were waiting for.
Strength: Speed and quickness. Patton isn't Darren Sproles, but he's close. Johnson is a threat to bust off a big run on every carry.
Weakness: Backups. There's Johnson, Patton, and a prayer for good health. It'll be up to a slew of true freshmen to provide the depth.
Outlook: Johnson and Patton will become among the Big 12's most dangerous 1-2 punches. They'll have games when they get stuffed cold behind the mediocre offensive line, but there will be other days when they'll blow up and win games on their own. If they don't stay healthy, or if they don't play up to their potential, the middling ground game of last year will be even worse.
Rating: 7


Receivers

Projected Starters
:
How bad was the passing game last year? 6-2, 210-pound senior Jordy Nelson was never healthy, limited by a knee problem, but he still led the team with just 39 catches for 547 yards and a touchdown. A good-sized deep threat, he averaged 14 yards per catch, and also showed, at times, that he could be a good short to midrange target, too. The former defensive back has been the team's most reliable receiver over the last two years, when healthy.

6-1, 190-pound junior Cedric Wilson is a speedster who stepped in and had a decent year as a reserve making 11 catches for 120 yards and a touchdown, coming off a halfback pass. The former defensive back was recruited by almost all the big boys as a receiver, and now he has to grow into a steady one. He's one of the team's best athletes and has the all-around ability to become a premier deep threat and a strong number two receiver next to Nelson.

Senior Daniel Gonzalez is a 6-3, 216-pound target with nice hands with 15 catches for 199 yards and a score. He isn't a deep threat, but he can make a few big plays here and there as a third receiver in the slot. The former JUCO transfer will also be a key special teamer.

6-5, 229-pound senior Rashaad Norwood, who was second on the team with 36 catches for 358 yards, has the potential to be a star if he does a better job of catching everything thrown his ay and if he improves as a blocker. He has the potential to grow into a devastating target..

Projected Top Reserves: The strength of the passing game might be at tight end, where 6-6, 255-pound sophomore Jeron Mastrud, 6-3, 245-pound senior Michael Pooschke, and 6-4, 229-pound junior Brett Alstatt are all good enough to see time. Alstatt didn't catch a pass last year, but he has the speed to grow into a matchup nightmare. Pooschke is a bigger receiver who came up with six catches for 24 yards, while Mastrud does a little bit of everything with 17 catches for 235 yards. Mastrud saw little bit of starting time and can step in for Norwood and produce without a problem.

Several newcomers will likely take over the backup roles in a big hurry. 6-3, 215-pound freshman Lamark Brown was one of the nation's top receiver recruits with track star speed and jumping ability. He's a deep threat with next level potential.

JUCO transfer Deon Murphy is yet another speedster who's expected to step in and challenge for a starting job right away, as is 6-4, 204-pound JUCO transfer Ernie Pierce, who has 4.5 speed and size to provide a matchup nightmare no matter where he lines up.

Watch Out For ... the new guys. Tony Purvis, Matt Wkyes and Toney Coleman will all start out the season as top backups, but they'll likely be pushed aside in a hurry by the newcomers. KSU upgraded the talent level this off-season.  
Strength: Tight end. The Wildcats have four who could start if needed. While this isn't the best group of tight ends in the league (that honor goes to Missouri), it's a strength.
Weakness: A second receiver. There's Jordy Nelson, the tight ends, and a whole bunch of speedy question marks. Nelson is a good number one, but not a great one.
Outlook: Jordy Nelson will have a huge season if he can stay healthy and if someone else can take the heat off. Josh Freeman might have struggled last year, but the receiving corps didn't do much to help him out. There's speed across the board, but there's no one to count on right off the bat who'll scare anyone outside of Nelson.
Rating: 6

Offensive Linemen

Projected Starters
:
Three starters return to a front five that had a rough season, but it's a newcomer who has everyone buzzing. Star JUCO transfer Alesana Alesana has come in and immediately taken over the left tackle job. The 6-6, 295-pound junior is an athletic mauler who is still learning the ins and outs of the offensive line after growing up playing rugby.

At right tackle will once again be 6-4, 271-pound sophomore Nick Stringer after starting eight games. He missed the last four games of the year, along with spring ball, with a shoulder problem. Despite being undersized, the former tight end is one of the team's best, and most promising, blockers. He'll be a mainstay on the line for the next few years if he can stay healthy.

The only other starter assured of a starting spot is 6-3, 302-pound junior Jordan Bedore, who started every game and started to play well by the end of the year. The former defensive lineman is a big, physical blocker who should be able to grow into an anchor after a few rocky times. Inconsistent as a freshman, he turned into a good run blocker last year.

6-1, 313-pound junior Caleb Handy started the final eight games of last year at left guard, and while he got better by the end of the year, he's going to be pushed hard for time. He can step in at tackle if needed, but he's far better suited for the inside.

6-8, 338-pound senior Logan Robinson is a huge blocker who stepped in and played just about everywhere on the line with four starts late at right guard. A smart, improving blocker, he'll start out on the right side but will have to keep improving to keep the gig.

Projected Top Reserves: 6-6, 312-pound junior Gerard Spexarth was all set to be a starter as a freshman before suffering a broken hand, and it took most of last year to get his strength and weight back up. He went from being a tackle prospect to guard, starting three games early in the year on the right side, and now he'll move back to tackle where he'll be a bigger option on the right side behind Stringer.

6-6, 301-pound sophomore Derek Meyer appeared to be on the verge of taking over a starter last year, but he was knocked out for the season after seeing time in the first five games. Athletic for his size, he's a good prospect who still needs to get stronger, and become better in pass protection, to handle himself in a bigger role behind Alesana on the left side.

Watch Out For ... major shuffling all season long. The one positive from last year was that several different players got meaningful playing time, often without being close to ready. There are so many different options to work with that it might take a few games to find the right combination.
Strength: Reserves. It's the strength in numbers theory. With so many experienced reserves and so many options, at least two stars have to emerge to work around Alesana, Bedore and Stringer.
Weakness: A starting five. There was no continuity to last year's line, and little to go off of going into this year. If Alesana isn't everything he's supposed to be and more, things might not be appreciably better right away.
Outlook: Much maligned last year, the line wasn't quite as awful as many made it seem. If wasn't good, but it wasn't horrific. It's still a work in progress and will likely take all year before it gels into a consistent unit. For now, it has to find one thing it can do well. In a perfect world, that would include keeping Josh Freeman upright.
Rating: 6

 

Related Stories
2007 Kansas State Preview
 -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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