2008 CFN Kansas State Preview
Kansas State FS Chris Carney
Kansas State FS Chris Carney
Posted Apr 28, 2008

After the Kansas State defense went into the tank late last year, major changes were made as the team went the JUCO route to load up with talent. Now Chris Carney and the Wildcats should rebound and be back in a bowl game, but can they do more? Check out the CFN KSU Preview.

Kansas State Wildcats

Preview 200

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Kansas State Preview | 2008 Kansas State Offense
- 2008 Kansas State Defense | 2008 Kansas State Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Kansas State Preview | 2006 CFN Kansas State Preview 

No, Kansas State isn’t a junior college; it only seems that way.

After a stunning down-the-stretch collapse losing five of their final six games to blow a nice 4-2 start, highlighted by a win over Texas, the Wildcats had to do something drastic to try to be in the Big 12 title mix. Mission accomplished.

Head coach: Ron Prince
3rd year: 12-13
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 19, Def. 21, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 24
Ten Best KSU Players
1. DE Ian Campbell, Sr.
2. QB Josh Freeman, Jr.
3. CB Joshua Moore, Soph.
4. LB Olu Hall, Soph.
5. OT Alseana Alesana, Jr.
6. SS Gary Chandler, Jr.
7. LB Reggie Walker, Jr.
8. OT Penisini Liu, Jr.
9. TE Jeron Mastrud, Soph.
10. WR Deon Murphy, Jr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 7-5
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 North Texas
Sept. 6 Montana State
Sept. 13 OPEN DATE
Sept. 17 at Louisville
Sept. 27 UL Lafayette
Oct. 4 Texas Tech
Oct. 11 at Texas A&M
Oct. 18 at Colorado
Oct. 25 Oklahoma 
Nov. 1 at Kansas
Nov. 8 at Missouri
Nov. 15 Nebraska
Nov. 22 Iowa State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6
2007 Record: 5-

Sept. 1 at Auburn L 23-13
Sept. 8
San Jose St W 34-14
Sept. 15 Missouri St W 61-10
Sept. 29 at Texas W 41-21
Oct. 6
Kansas L 30-24
Oct. 13 Colorado W 47-20
Oct. 20 at Oklahoma St L 41-39
Oct. 27
Baylor W 51-13
Nov. 3 at Iowa State L 31-20
Nov. 10 at Nebraska L 73-31
Nov. 17
Missouri L 49-32
Nov. 24 at Fresno State L 45-29

It’s not like the expectations are the same in Manhattan as they are in Lincoln or Austin, but for a program that grew into a power under Bill Snyder, only to fall flat during the end of his reign, just getting back among the top teams in the North is the goal. If bringing in the ready-made talent doesn’t work, it might be back to square one. The future has been mortgaged to win now.

Eight starters are back on offense, and while only five are back on defense, there's plenty of all-around experience coming back to form a nice base to work around. Added to the mix are a slew of JUCO transfers in this year's recruiting class that completely changed the face of the team.

If you want to change the face of a team, the Wildcats have done it as it's loaded with new ready-made players ready to challenge for starting jobs, like receivers Attrail Snipes and Aubrey Quarles. In all, 19 JUCO transfers were brought in making KSU the biggest wild-card in the crazy Big 12 North.

Combine the influx of young talent with the experience of head coach Ron Prince, who now has two years under his belt and should be far more prepared to keep the team steady. Young coaches almost always make mistakes as they try to learn the ins and outs, especially in a league like the Big 12 with so many veteran coaches. More than anything else, he'll need to use his experience to get his defense to come around.

The numbers were staggering down the stretch. Oklahoma State ran for 329 yards and cranked out 510 yards of total offense. Nebraska threw for 519 yards and seven touchdowns. Missouri put up 427 yards of offense and six touchdowns. Fresno State went for 549 yards and six scores. Nothing was working.

Now there will be major changes after the 3-4 scheme didn't work. Prince has closed off practices, pass rushing terror Ian Campbell will be an end again, instead of a hybrid linebacker/end, and, of course, the JUCO guys will help immensely.

It still might take one more year to fully come together and for the mix of old and new players to blend, but this will be a very, very dangerous team to watch out for.

What to look for on offense: The JUCO transfers, part one. Last year, the offense needed the JUCO players to help boost the line. This season, the new guys will provide more weapons for QB Josh Freeman to work with. Receivers Aubrey Quarles, Brandon Banks, Adrian Hilburn and Attrail Snipes are very fast, very good producers who could instantly take over starting spots. Keithen Valentine was a walk-on this spring who grabbed a second-string running back spot going into the fall. The line gets help from Wade Weibert, a starting left guard, and Edward Prince will work at tackle.

What to look for on defense: The JUCO transfers, part two. The switch back to a 4-3 is the biggest key, at least more of a rotation between the 3-4 and the 4-3, as it should allow Campbell be the Campbell who dominated the Big 12 in 2006, but the big help to improve the dying D will come from the new guys. The new star isn't from the JUCO ranks, but from Virginia. Olu Hall was a big-time recruit for the Cavaliers who should now grow into a major NFL prospect. Hansen Sekona and Ulia Pomele will be major factors at linebacker, Daniel Calvin is a run-clogging tackle, and Dustin Bell is a ball-hawking defensive back.

This team will be much better if … it can keep teams under 250 yards passing. The Wildcats held Auburn to 229 yards through the air and almost pulled off the upset. They were 5-1 in the other games when they held the opponent under 250, and was 1-4 when allowing more.

The Schedule: The team should be better, and it should show right away with a decent start. Playing North Texas, Montana State (which would've been Fresno State if the Wildcats didn't wuss out of the date) and UL Lafayette in September will do that, but there's also a mid-week, nationally televised game at Louisville. The big problem overall is the timing of the open dates. There's one on September 13th, and then it's ten games in ten weeks with a brutal stretch of four road games in a five-week span. The home date in the midst of the road run? Oklahoma, followed up by road trips to Kansas and Missouri. On the plus side, the final two games are at home against Nebraska and Iowa State.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Josh Freeman. Thrown to the wolves as a true freshman, he wasn't bad, but he threw too many picks. Last year he grew into the job, and when he had to bomb away to keep up in shootouts, he did. He threw for 200 yards or more in every game but the win over Texas, and he was over 250 yards nine eight times including a 404-yard, three touchdown performance in the loss to Oklahoma State.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Ian Campbell. The Big 12's new superstars after an 11.5 sack 2006 season, and then he was moved into a linebacker/end in the 3-4 scheme. While he had more space to move, it also allowed more blockers to get to him and prevent him from getting into the backfield on a regular basis. Now he'll be back with his hand on the ground where he'll be too quick off the ball for most tackles.

Key player to a successful season: Junior RB Leon Patton ... if he's on the team. He was convicted of misdemeanor theft after swiping two video games. There are options if Patton isn't back, but assuming he is, he needs to be the star of the running game that last 1,106-yard, 12-touchdown back James Johnson. In a perfect world, the Wildcats have more offensive balance, but at 5-7 and 187 pounds, he might not be a workhorse. He's a speed back who makes things happen when he gets the ball in space, and if he can crank out at least 15 quality touches per game, the offense will be far better.

The season will be a success if ... the Wildcats get to a bowl game ... and winning it. That might not seem like a major goal, but considering how strong the Big 12 is, and with Texas Tech and Oklahoma to play from the South, getting to the post-season would be a good bounce-back year. Winning the game will be vital, too, considering the Cats lost their last two post-season games and haven't won one since 2002. The team has won 18 games against D-I/FBS teams over the past four years and have had one winning season in the last four. Getting above .500 is a must.

Key game: Oct. 4 vs. Texas Tech. August 31st, 1996, Kansas State beat Texas Tech 21-14 in the first ever Big 12 game. Now the Red Raiders are better than they've been since joining the league, while the Wildcats could use a big statement game at home to start out the year.

2007 Fun Stats: 
 - Punt return average: Kansas State 22.5 yards – Opponents 6.9 yards
 - First quarter scoring: Kansas State 122 – Opponents 69
 - Penalties: Kansas State 98 for 903 yards – Opponents 80 for 694 yards