2007 Kansas State Preview - Offense
Kansas State Wildcat Offense
Preview 2007 - Offense
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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
Passing: Josh Freeman
140-270, 1,780 yds, 6 TD, 15 INT
Rushing: Leon Patton
108 carries, 609 yds, 6 TD
39 catches, 547 yds, 1 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Josh Freeman
Offensive line, quarterback consistency, depth everywhere
but on the line
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:
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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