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2009 CFN Kansas State Preview
Kansas State OT Nick Stringer
Kansas State OT Nick Stringer
Posted May 12, 2009

Kansas State is going old school with Bill Snyder taking back the reins of the program he built up from the scrap heap. Can he regain a little of his old magic, and how long will it take for this rebuilding project to be a success? Check out the 2009 CFN Kansas State Preview.

Kansas State Wildcats

Preview 200

By Pete Fiutak

- 2009 CFN Kansas State Preview | 2009 Kansas State Offense

- 2009 Kansas State Defense | 2009 Kansas State Depth Chart
- 2008 KSU Preview | 2007 KSU Preview | 2006 KSU Preview 

Interested in blogging about Kansas State football?  Let us know

Like you wouldn't rather be running a college football program.

Bill Snyder's legacy was secure. He had finished up a historic, legendary career with one of the greatest turnaround jobs in the history of sports, taking a pathetic, almost non-existent Kansas State program and making it a national power. His family name became synonymous with the KSU football from the stadium to the standard and expectations set, and he will forever be remembered for doing the impossible in Manhattan. But he decided to return.

Head coach: Bill Snyder
18th year: 136-68
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 25, ST 4
Lettermen Lost: 28
Ten Best KSU Players
1. WR/KR Brandon Banks, Sr.
2. CB Josh Moore, Jr.
3. DT Jeffrey Fitzgerald, Sr.
4. DE Brandon Harold, So.
5. WR/RB Lamark Brown, Jr.
6. OT Nick Stringer, Sr.
7. TE Jeron Mastrud, Sr.
8. S Tysyn Hartman, So.
9. DE Eric Childs, Sr.
10. LB John Houlik, Sr.

2009 Schedule
CFN Prediction
: 5-7
2009 Record: 0-0

9/5 Massachusetts
9/12 at UL Lafayette
9/19 at UCLA
9/26 Tennessee Tech
10/3 Iowa State (in KC)
10/10 at Texas Tech
10/17 Texas A&M
10/24 Colorado
10/31 at Oklahoma
11/7 Kansas
11/14 Missouri
11/21 at Nebraska

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

8/30 North Texas W 45-6
9/6 Montana State W 69-10
9/17 at Louisville L 38-29
9/27 UL Lafayette W 45-27
10/4 Texas Tech L 58-28
10/11 at Tex A&M W 44-30
10/18 at Colorado W 14-13
10/25 Oklahoma  L 58-35
11/1 at Kansas L 52-31
11/8 at Missouri L 41-24
11/15 Nebraska L 56-28
11/22 Iowa State W 38-30

The cupboard wasn't exactly stocked for Ron Prince when he took over in 2006, but he couldn't put together a defense, didn't get enough out of the bazillion JUCO transfers he brought aboard, and he couldn't come up with winning seasons in either of the last two years with tremendous late collapses killing seasons. In 2007, the Wildcats lost their final four games to miss out on a bowl, and last year they lost five in a row to ruin a 4-2 hot start. He's gone, the legend is back, and all will be right with the Kansas State world.

Not exactly.

While making Kansas State a major player in the Big 12 race wouldn't be on par with what Snyder did when he first took over the reins, it would be a bit of a shocker considering he's been out of the game for a few seasons and the talent level isn't all that great across the board. Worse yet, for those fans who only know the good years of Kansas State football and don't have a memory of anything before 1990, this might seem like heresy to say, but the halcyon days weren't all that great.

Oh sure, compared to the days before 1991, when Kansas State came up with just its third winning season since 1954, the prosperity and the success was stunning. But for all the fireworks and all the success and all the great things that Snyder did with the program, there was only one Big 12 title (the shocking 2003 win over Oklahoma) and the wheels started to come off right after. Since the championship, Kansas State has gone 26-44, hasn't played a lick of defense, and the program has become an also-ran, at best. That's not to say it wouldn't take a little bit to turn things back around in a big hurry.

If Kansas State played in the Big 12 South, then forget about it. There wouldn't be any hope of getting back to a Big 12 title game before Snyder chose to retire again. But the North is mediocre with Missouri starting over, Iowa State really starting over, and Colorado failing to step up and do anything special under Dan Hawkins (although that might change this year). Kansas State isn't going to win the division, but all the team needs is a good quarterback, an improved defense, and one other Darren Sproles-like playmaker in the backfield.

The opportunities will be there. The depth chart is hardly set in stone, there are plenty of chances for some players to take jobs and make them their own, and the coach is back. Can he make Kansas State a big story again? Check in next year.

What to look for on offense: The quarterback derby. In Snyder's perfect world, his quarterback would be smallish, very quick, and a 1,000-yard runner who could also throw efficiently. There isn't a Michael Bishop or an Ell Roberson waiting around, but Carson Coffman is an agile, mobile passer who has been around just long enough to know what he's doing. Unfortunately, the previous coaching staff wanted big, tall bombers, and while that worked out well for Josh Freeman, that means the two best backup options, Collin Klein and Joseph Kassanavoid, are both huge. However, both can run. On the way is Daniel Thomas, a JUCO transfer who originally signed on in 2008 and has the speed and quickness Snyder wants, but he'll need time to become a passer.

What to look for on defense: Jeffrey Fitzgerald. Kansas State has lived, and mostly died, with JUCO transfers over the last few seasons and haven't developed enough defensive talent. Defensive end Brandon Harold is one of the homegrown stars who should become a terror of a pass rusher, while the program hit the jackpot by getting Fitzgerald. An ideal NFL 3-4 end, Fitzgerald is in a salary drive after leaving Virginia just when he was about to become a national superstar. With the defense going from a 3-4 to a 4-2-5, Fitzgerald will be the crown jewel up front.

This team will be much better if … it can find one thing it can do well on defense. To be fair, the Big 12 has been unbelievable through the air over the past few years, so everyone's pass defense stats stink, but Kansas State couldn't stop the run, either. Over the last two seasons, KSU is 3-9 when allowing 250 yards passing or more. Holding teams under the 250-yard mark usually meant a win, but in games when the pass defense was working fine, the run defense went bye-bye. UL Lafayette threw for 174 yards, but ran for 335. Kansas threw for 189 yards, but ran for 280 yards and six touchdowns. Colorado ran for 247 yards and threw for 106. The defense isn't going to be a brick wall, but it has to be able to take away some element of an opposing offense.

The Schedule: It's Kansas State, so you know what's coming in the non-conference schedule with games against teams like Massachusetts and Tennessee Tech. However, a trip to UCLA makes up for it and going to UL Lafayette is an odd date. While going to Texas Tech and Oklahoma will be tough, getting Texas A&M in the third game against the South will help. However, after the season opener, there's only one other home game in the following five weeks. In the North, the Wildcats have the three big games after the trip to Oklahoma with home games against Kansas and Missouri before finishing up at Nebraska on November 21st. There isn't an off-week meaning the season is cut short.

Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Brandon Banks. Not just an elite receiver who can be used both as a home run hitter and a move-the-chains possession target, he's also a top-shelf return man who averaged 27.7 yards per kick off return and 11.6 per punt try. He's only 5-7 and 170 pounds, but he has elite speed and will be the No. 1 target who takes attention away from everyone else.

Best Defensive Player: Junior CB Joshua Moore. Fitzgerald is the best pro prospect and will likely be the best player on the team, and Brandon Harold will eventually be special, but Moore is the key to the defense because of his cover skills and tackling ability. Relatively big for a corner at 5-11 and 184 pounds, he's physical enough to have led the team in tackles, making 76, and he broke up 12 passes and came up with a team-leading three picks. With five defensive backs being used now. Moore needs to be a top-shelf producer more than ever.

Key player to a successful season: The starting quarterback. The defense will be better, and while it won't be great, it'll have its moments. The offense is another story after losing Josh Freeman, the franchise passer who was taken in the first round by Tampa Bay. The line will give the quarterback time, and the receiving corps will be solid, but now it's up to Coffman, Klein, Kassanavoid, Thomas, or a combination of any and all of the above, to carry the offense to make up for a mediocre running game.

The season will be a success if ... the Wildcats get to a bowl game. They should've been to the post-season in each of the last two seasons but died down the stretch. This year, getting to six wins is a must with three layups against UMass, UL Lafayette (which would be a road trap if the Ragin' Cajuns weren't rebuilding), and Tennessee Tech. That means it'll only take wins over Iowa State, Texas A&M to get to five, and then hope to pull off a home upset over someone like Colorado or Missouri to get to six. It would also be nice to get to a bowl win. Considering the decade is almost over, winning one bowl game since 2000 is a rough run.

Key game: Sept. 19 at UCLA. The team isn't good enough to be thinking about big Big 12 games quite yet, and it's likely going to be the 11th best team in the league ahead of Iowa State, but that doesn't mean there can't be a little excitement. If the Wildcats can go to L.A. and beat UCLA, which isn't that tough a task, they'll almost certainly be 4-0 to start the year with the game against Iowa State coming up. 5-0. With home games against Texas A&M and Colorado to follow a trip to Texas Tech, they could be off to a whale of a start. However, a loss to the Bruins would prove that any good early record would only be a mirage.

2008 Fun Stats: 
- Penalties: Opponents 84 for 662 yards - Kansas State 67 for 557 yards
- Yards per carry: Opponents 5.2 - Kansas State 3.9
- Time of possession: Opponents 32:20 - Kansas State 27:40