16 Kansas State

August 20, 2012

No more sneak attacks: A suspect D makes repeating last year's Big 12 ambush unlikely

Key Recruit

TAVON ROOKS One of the nation's top juco linemen last year, the offensive tackle chose the Wildcats over new Big 12 rival West Virginia. Rooks is under 300 pounds but is extremely athletic. The junior could be the starting left tackle when the season begins.

Breakout Player

Travis Tannahill In his first three seasons the tight end established himself as an outstanding blocker. But this spring the senior emerged as a pass-catching threat and impressed coaches with several highlight-reel grabs. As Klein develops as a passer, Tannahill will be his safety net.

The Skinny

ONCE AGAIN, Bill Snyder has concocted a Big 12 contender out of overlooked recruits and transfers. The current crew features Collin Klein, a wide receiver turned quarterback who tied an FBS record for QBs with 27 rushing touchdowns last year. Middle linebacker Arthur Brown, a Wichita native who returned to his home state after washing out at Miami, heads a unit that improved by 100 yards per game against the run. In 2011 the Wildcats were expected to battle for bowl eligibility; instead they came within a win of the Big 12 title. Their conference rivals will be ready for them. "Did I anticipate last season going exactly as it did? No," says Snyder. "I really have a tremendous amount of respect for the young people in our program."

Final Analysis

THE WILDCATS' offense should improve as Klein makes strides as a passer, and thanks to All-America kick returner Tyler Lockett the QB will frequently have favorable field position. While talent is lacking on defense, Brown is good enough to pick up the slack. Last year Kansas State had nine games that were decided by seven points or fewer—and won eight of them. The cast is largely the same in Manhattan, but the Big 12 is different: With Oklahoma and Texas on the rise and West Virginia and TCU joining the conference, replicating last year's success will be a tall order.

THE VITALS

Coach Bill Snyder (21st year)

159-83-1 (89-64-1 in Big 12)

2011 Record 10--3 (7--2, 2nd in Big 12)

Final AP Rank 15

Returning Starters Offense 5, Defense 7

2011 STATS

Total Offense (FBS Rank) 337.0 YPG (101)

Rushing Offense 185.5 YPG (29)

Passing Offense 151.5 YPG (108)

Total Defense 394.6 YPG (72)

Rushing Defense 131.2 YPG (37)

Passing Defense 263.4 YPG (103)

TELLING NUMBER 5

Kansas State wins, out of 10 last season, in which the Wildcats trailed or were tied in the fourth quarter.

TOP PLAYERS

Offense

QB Collin Klein

Sr. 6'5", 226 pounds

1,918 YDs, 13 TDs

RB John Hubert

Jr. 5'7", 191 pounds

970 YDs, 3 TDs

WR Chris Harper

Sr. 6'1", 229 pounds

40 RECs, 5 TDs

Defense

LB Arthur Brown

Sr. 6'1", 228 pounds

101 tackles, 2 sacks

CB Nigel Malone

Sr. 5'10", 185 pounds

58 tackles, 7 INTs

S Ty Zimmerman

Jr. 6'1", 203 pounds

58 tackles, 2 INTs

Special Teams

KR Tyler Lockett

Soph. 5'11", 175 pounds

16 KRs, 35.2 AVG, 2 TDs

PHOTOGREG NELSON (KLEIN)Klein's legs made him a star last year, but he must develop as a passer to give K-State the offensive firepower it will need in an improved Big 12. PHOTOCHARLIE RIEDEL/AP (TANNAHILL) PHOTOPETER G. AIKEN/GETTY IMAGES (BROWN)What Brown can do for them: The dominant middle linebacker can cover up for a defense otherwise short on talent.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)