2012 Record: 11-2 (8-1 in Big 12)
Head Coach: Bill Snyder (170-85-1)
Four Year Trend: 8.5 wins and 4.25 losses per year
Last Bowl Game: 2013 Fiesta Bowl: lost to Oregon 35-17
Stadium: Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, KS (capacity = 52,200)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 10th out of 69 BCS teams
2013 Schedule Link
Out of Conference: 8/30 vs North Dakota St, 9/7 vs Louisiana, 9/14 vs UMass
Revenge: 10/12 vs Baylor
Toughest Road Games: 9/21 at Texas, 10/5 at Oklahoma St
2012 Statistics Link
Stat to Fear: Collin Klein passed for 16 TDs and ran for 23 last season, he's no longer on the team
Stats to Cheer: +1.54 turnover margin (1st in Big 12), converted on 50% of third downs (2nd in Big 12), held opponents to 49.94% TD rate in red zone (2nd in Big 12)
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 4th out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 8, Defense: 2, Special Teams: 0
Key Defensive Returnees: S Ty Zimmerman (50 tackles, 5 INT), CB Randall Evans (77 tackles)
Key Offensive Returnees: RB John Hubert (952 yds rush, 5.04 ypc, 15 TD), WR Tyler Lockett (44 rec), WR Tramaine Thompson (37 rec)
Top 2013 Recruits: QB Jake Waters, ILB Nick Ramirez, DE Devon Nash
Inside Scoop with Bring on the Cats:
CFBZ: Kansas State has been called "overachievers" the last two years under Bill Snyder. Do you feel the Wildcats have overachieved?
Bring on the Cats: In the sense that they outperformed preseason expectations both of the last two seasons, and did so by quite a bit, you could call them overachievers. But I think the overachievers label springs from the national, and to some extent regional, media's misconception that K-State is a bunch of talentless misfits coached by a wizard. Bill Snyder is absolutely a genius, but he has had more talent the last couple years than most realize. Arthur Brown, Chris Harper and Braden Wilson were NFL draft picks this year, and K-State had six players sign as undrafted free agents. Combine that with undergraduate players like Ty Zimmerman at safety, Tyler Lockett at wide receiver/returner, and an offensive line that has at least a couple future NFL prospects, and you have a squad that is pretty talented across the first line of the depth chart.
The short answer is that, relative to outside expectations, K-State definitely overachieved. Relative to their talent level and coaching acumen, they may have slightly overachieved, but the gap was much less than most seem to think.
CFBZ: One of the top players in college football last year, Collin Klein, has moved on to the next stage of his career. Who replaces him?
Bring on the Cats: It will either be redshirt sophomore Daniel Sams or junior-college transfer Jake Waters. Nobody really knows at this point. Sams is athletically gifted, to put it mildly, ripping off several highlight-reel runs in limited action last season. He is mostly untested as a passer, though, uncorking only eight passing attempts last season. He connected on six of them, but small sample size is small.
Waters comes to Manhattan from Iowa Western, which he led to a junior college national championship last season. He was the junior college offensive player of the year and passed for 3,500 yards last season. If Waters picks up the offense quickly, my guess is he will win the job. He was on campus for spring practice this year, so he will have ample opportunity.
CFBZ: The Wildcats were a senior laden defense last year and also lost their best player, Arthur Brown. Who needs to step up on this side of the football?
Bring on the Cats: Pretty much everyone. On top of losing Brown, K-State lost pretty much its entire defensive line (Meshak Williams, Adam Davis, Vai Lutui, Javonta Boyd and John Sua) and a good chunk of its defensive backfield (Nigel Malone, Allen Chapman and Jarard Milo), too. Senior Tre Walker needs to anchor the linebackers, and it would help if someone like junior Jonathan Truman and/or incoming four-star recruit Nick Ramirez (Lee's Summit, Mo. (West)) stepped up, too. Ty Zimmerman will anchor the backfield, and Randall Evans also returns. I have no idea who will step up along the defensive line, but several someones need to.
CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes?
Bring on the Cats: This season is about maintaining momentum. Given the sheer amount of production and experience that was lost after last year, it's exceedingly unlikely that this team will win 10 or more games for the third straight season. The goal should be getting the new players experience and winning the games we should win. If things go according to plan, K-State could be setting up for a big season in 2014. Winning eight or more games in 2013 would constitute success for me.
Bill Snyder has been called a wizard. Within four years of taking back the head coaching job he has led the Wildcats to two straight double-digit seasons. This year though, he will face a task that will be similar to when he took back over the squad in 2009 as he has a lot of holes to fill. According to Phil Steele, the Wildcats will be the second least experienced team in the Big 12. They lose their best player on offense, Collin Klein, and their best player on defense, Arthur Brown.
Kansas State has not named a starting QB yet but they are not without talent at that position and while the winner of the job won't be Collin Klein they should be able to handle what's put in front of them. The Wildcats return their leading rusher, John Hubert. They lose leading receiver Chris Harper but do return the next two on the depth chart. The OL should be a strength as they lose just one starter from last season and return five players who have started at least ten games. The offense looks like it will be able to continue the success it has had, the big question is around losing a leader like Collin Klein and the intangibles that he brought to the field.
Defense is going to be the big question mark. The Wildcats must replace their entire defensive front as they lose their five top players along the line. They also must replace their two best linebackers including the previously mentioned Arthur Brown. They also lose their starting strong safety and two corners who contributed quite a bit. How good the Wildcats can be this year will be decided on this side of the football.
Kansas State starts off with a pretty easy out of conference schedule (I would too if I was in the Big 12) and that will work out well for them this year as it will help both sides of the football ease into their positions and learn their roles in real time but if they aren't careful they could get stung by Louisiana in their second game as they are a very well coached team. Bill Snyder has built a program where the players are expecting to come in and compete and be in a position to win each and every game. This year will be a challenge because of the personnel that they have lost but I wouldn't expect the Wildcats to take too big of a dip.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews:
C-USA- ECU, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Tulane, UAB, UTEP, UTSA
MAC- Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, EMU, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo,UMass, WMU
MWC- Air Force, Colorado St, Fresno St, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, SDSU, SJSU, UNLV,Utah St, Wyoming