2012 Program Preview - Kansas St.

Here is a photo of Kansas State QB Collin Klein throwing the ball. Without that photo, you would have been forgiven for thinking he never threw a pass in 2011. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Bill Snyder's doing it again.

Arriving in 1989 to what Sports Illustrated at the time termed "Futility U," Snyder set about building an entire program out of nothing. Five years after the Wildcats posted consecutive winless seasons under Stan Parrish, Snyder's Kansas State teams were cracking the top 25. For 11 straight seasons from 1993-2003, KSU was bowl bound, including two Cotton Bowls and two Fiesta Bowls. With that kind of success, you'd think they'd name the stadium after him...oh. Well there ya go.

Things unraveled in the middle of last decade, leading Snyder to retire. Then some guy came in and gave Every Day Should Be Saturday the hero they always needed. So for the second time, Snyder headed to Manhattan to save Kansas St. He's doing it again.

KSU went 6-6 in 2009. Last year, they were 10-3 and were back in the Cotton Bowl.

I think we see where this is going.

After the jump, the prospects worth noting as well as some games and matchups to pencil into your calendar.

References

Bring On The Cats (SB Nation Kansas State community), SB Nation Kansas City, SB Nation team page, official team site, Bill Connelly's preview for SBN, CBS Sports preview

Notable offensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Chris Harper WR RS Sr. 7 (potential riser)
Collin Klein QB RS Sr. UD
Nick Puetz G RS Sr. UD
John Hubert RB RS Jr. 7
B.J. Finney C RS Soph. UD
Tyler Lockett WR Soph. N/A


Notable defensive prospects

Name POS Yr. Early projected Rd (notes)
Arthur Brown LB RS Sr. 2
Nigel Malone CB Sr. 7
Adam Davis DE RS Sr. 7 (potential riser)
Vai Lutui DT RS Sr. UD
Ty Zimmerman S RS Jr. 7
Tre Walker OLB Jr. 7


Summary

KSU's success last year was largely the product of Snyder's speed option system and the success Collin Klein had in said system last year. The recruiting's ticking up, but it's not on par with the rest of the conference. Thing is, it doesn't have to be.

So while Arthur Brown is the only real standout here, talent development is Snyder's strong suit. Shocking, an offensive coordinator at Iowa for 10 years relies on talent development. That being the case, I wouldn't be surprised if he can elevate guys like WR Chris Harper or DE Adam Davis into discussions earlier on day 3 or perhaps even day 2 stock by season's end.

Key games

North Texas (home) - Week 3 (Sat., Sep. 15 - 7:00 p.m. ET)

Go Mean Green? (ducks...)

Oklahoma (away) - Week 4 (Sat., Sep. 22 - TBD)
West Virginia (away) - Week 8 (Sat., Oct. 20 - TBD)

These two key away games will be the contests that determine where Kansas State finishes in the Big XII. Both come after games the Wildcats should win -- OU follows the UNT game, WVU comes after Iowa State. While the four-game stretch to close the season is the toughest section of the schedule, these two stand out.

Key matchups

QB Collin Klein v. Oklahoma LBs Tom Wort & Corey Nelson, Week 4 - Sat., Sep. 22
QB Collin Klein v. Oklahoma State LBs Alex Elkins, Caleb Lavey & Shaun Lewis, Week 10 - Sat., Nov. 3

For a stretch in the middle of last year, Klein was turning into a very impressive run-first QB. For a five game run starting with the Texas Tech game, Klein averaged 108.2 rushing yards, 3.4 rushing TDs and threw for just two interceptions in that span. In the final three games of the season, Klein averaged 44 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD, throwing just one interception in that final trio.

In these two contests, Klein will need to find that mid-season form again. KSU fans should be optimistic; the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State games were two of the five in which Klein was tearing it up.

LB Arthur Brown v. Texas RBs Joe Bergeron & Malcolm Brown, Week 14 - Sat., Dec. 1

With Texas still trying to figure out a long term solution at QB with David Ash and Case McCoy, they'll likely lean on their running game again in 2012. That means this final game of the regular season for both teams could well depend on how well Texas runs the ball against the Wildcats' defense. Brown will be the centerpiece of trying to shut them down for a second consecutive season.

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