Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here. Below, a unique review of last year's team, a unit-by-unit breakdown of this year's roster, the full 2016 schedule with win projections for each game, and more.
1. The Never-Ending Tour
Still, mortality hovers. We look for signs that the end of the road is coming. Every loss brings about a fresh wave of "This might be about it" rumbling, every change is viewed as a tea leaf to read. It is on one hand frustrating -- when you focus so much on what might be about to happen, you stop paying attention to what actually is -- and on the other, completely understandable. We know he's 75, we saw what happened the last time he left, and we wonder.
Regardless, 2015 probably isn't going to be Snyder's best season in Manhattan.
At nearly 75 years old, Bob Dylan still tours. If he had touched a guitar for the last time in 1983, his reputation would still be set. He will always be the guy who dragged folk music out of its comfort zone and, with his work from about 1963-74, wrote the book on songwriting and adaptation and inspired virtually every would-be songwriter with half-decent guitar skills. Still, he has spent nearly three decades on the Never Ending Tour, a constant trip around the globe, interpreting and reinterpreting his old songs, writing new ones, and, as proven by his 2015 release of a Frank Sinatra cover album, doing whatever the hell he wants to do. He has no interest in upkeep on his past-tense reputation -- he's still living in the present tense.
Bill Snyder turned 76 last fall. He's already been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, and he's still coaching. He pulled off and sustained perhaps the most legendary turnaround in this sport's history. He inherited a program that had gone 3-40-1 in the four years prior to his arrival and had managed just two winning seasons (6-5 and 6-5-1) in 35 years; in his third year on the job, he went 7-4. In his fifth year, he went 9-2-1 with the program's first bowl win. In his seventh year, the Wildcats finished 10-2 and seventh in the AP Poll. In his ninth year, KSU began a stretch of six 11-win seasons in seven years, the last of which delivered a conference title to Manhattan.
Snyder retired two years and just nine wins after his 2003 conference title; it appeared his magic had run out. But after three years on the sideline, during which KSU's stadium was renamed after him and his family, Snyder returned to once again turn the program around. And after a regrouping year in 2009, he already had the Wildcats playing conference-average ball by his second year. In 2011-12, KSU went 21-5. In 2014, the Wildcats won nine games and finished 18th in the polls -- the third ranked finish of his comeback and the 13th of his career.
Snyder has spoiled us, from his consistent personality (his Twitter feed is exactly what you think it would be, and it's wonderful -- "Don't forget your mothers tomorrow.") to his ability to constantly turn top-60 recruiting classes into top-30 product. He has no reason to continue touring, but here he is, attempting one final turnaround.
KSU wasn't very good in 2015. The 2014 squad was senior-heavy, and last year's team was even thinner than expected due to injuries at quarterback and in the secondary. After a 3-0 start, KSU lost six games in a row for the first time since Snyder's first year in Manhattan. The Wildcats rebounded to pull off unlikely home wins over Iowa State and West Virginia and reach a bowl for the sixth straight year, but the numbers weren't fooled. KSU ranked 84th in S&P+, easily the team's worst grade since 2009, Snyder's first year back.
KSU was still good at Snyder-esque things: The Wildcats spread opponents out well on offense and forced solo tackles, they were excellent at short-yardage defense and at getting to the passer on passing downs, and they were tremendous in special teams. But the down-to-down talent simply wasn't there, or wasn't experienced enough to deliver. Will a more experienced team tip the balance once more in KSU's favor? Whenever Snyder does end up retiring, does he send himself off with a better season than he did in his first retirement?
2015 Schedule & Results
|Record: 6-7 | Adj. Record: 4-9 | Final F/+ Rk: 81 | Final S&P+ Rk: 84|
|Date||Opponent||Opp. F/+ Rk||Score||W-L||Percentile
|3-Oct||at Oklahoma State||40||34-36||L||39%||11%||-3.0||+5.5|
|14-Nov||at Texas Tech||60||44-59||L||15%||1%||-9.3||-9.5|
|Points Per Game||29.9||58||31.5||93|
2. Good against bad
The hallmark of so many Snyder teams has been the ability to show as little as possible against lesser teams, then surprise and hinder really good teams. In 2011, K-State barely got by Eastern Kentucky, then beat Robert Griffin III and Baylor a month later. In 2012, they looked relatively unimpressive against North Texas and Iowa State and won at Oklahoma in between. In 2014, they barely got by two-win Iowa State, then nearly beat Auburn and won at Oklahoma again.
This was not the case in 2015. When the Wildcats had an athleticism edge, they milked it for everything it was worth and dominated. Against everybody else, they struggled.
- KSU vs. F/+ top 80:
Average percentile performance: 33% (~top 85) | Record: 3-7 | Average score: Opp 39, KSU 28
- KSU vs. everybody else:
Average percentile performance: 87% (~top 15) | Record: 3-0 | Average score: KSU 36, Opp 6
The main problem here was on the defensive side of the ball. Aside from a two-week glitch against Oklahoma and Texas, in which they scored just nine total points, the Wildcats otherwise averaged 34.5 points per game despite their typical slow pace. But after allowing just three combined points to South Dakota and UTSA to start the season, they allowed 36.4 points per game, 39.2 if you take out the Kansas game.
After ranking in the Def. S&P+ for four straight years from 2011-14, KSU plummeted to 83rd last season. The ceiling for this team is pretty low until the Wildcats figure some things out on that side of the ball.
|FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||41.9%||64||Succ. Rt. +||99.4||74|
|FIELD POSITION||Def. Avg. FP||30.4||81||Def. FP+||29.8||69|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.8||32||Redzone S&P+||106.5||49|
|Q1 Rk||63||1st Down Rk||112|
|Q2 Rk||103||2nd Down Rk||100|
|Q3 Rk||110||3rd Down Rk||73|
3. The offense was not blameless
Mind you, the offense still had plenty of issues. Four kick return touchdowns singlehandedly raised KSU's scoring averages by more than two points per game, and while the Wildcats were good at turning scoring opportunities into points, they didn't create as many opportunities as most teams in this offense-friendly conference. They also didn't play that many good defenses.
The Big 12 has proven more capable than its reputation would suggest at playing pretty good defense. TCU, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Texas have all produced solid defenses within the last few years. But in 2015, this wasn't the case. Oklahoma ranked 16th in Def. S&P+, WVU ranked 28th ... and TCU was next at 58th. So the scoring averages were more inflated than normal.
Against the only two top-50 defenses KSU faced (OU, WVU), the Wildcats averaged 12 points per game and 3.1 yards per play. Against defense ranked between 50th and 75th, they averaged 28.8 and 5.1, respectively. Against defenses worse than that: 38.4 and 5.5.
KSU's run efficiency was excellent. Quarterback Joe Hubener and running backs Charles Jones and Justin Silmon were consistently able to carve out chunks of four or five yards at a time. But if you were able to corral the run game, there was no Plan B. The passing game stunk, and KSU created almost no big plays to bail itself out. The Wildcats' 147 gains of 10-plus yards ranked 107th in the country, their eight gains of 40-plus ranked 112th. It was five yards or nothing, and against decent defenses, that was usually nothing.
Note: players in bold below are 2016 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.
|Joe Hubener||6'5, 211||Sr.||NR||NR||131||275||1837||9||10||47.6%||21||7.1%||5.7|
|Jesse Ertz||6'3, 205||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8337|
|Alex Delton||6'0, 201||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609|
|Skylar Thompson||6'2, 193||Fr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8783|
4. You have to be able to pass a little
Joe Hubener did a pretty decent impression of former KSU great Collin Klein last year. Unfortunately, it was the 2010 version of Klein. Klein was a sophomore that year, and while he proved adept at managing the read option and an efficient run game, Snyder didn't even slightly trust him to pass the ball. When throwing was a requirement, he subbed in Carson Coffman.
There was no Coffman last year. Jesse Ertz won the starting job, then got hurt on his second play against South Dakota. He has a history of knee injuries and was out for the season with another one. He was not alone. Freshman Alex Delton missed most of the year with injury, and at one point, four different QBs were hurt and receiver Kody Cook had to take snaps. His passer rating (113.3) was actually higher than Hubener's (107.3).
In his first three games, Hubener set the bar pretty high, but he couldn't maintain that pace in conference play.
- Hubener's first 3 games: 54% completion rate, 16.3 yards per completion, 4 TD, 0 INT
- Hubener's last 10 games: 46% completion rate, 13.2 yards per completion, 5 TD, 10 INT
Klein improved in 2011, by the way. For all we know, Hubener could too. But he'll have to overtake both Ertz and Delton, who are back and healthy (for now).
|Joe Hubener||QB||6'5, 211||Sr.||NR||NR||159||770||13||4.8||4.2||40.9%||6||3|
|Charles Jones||RB||5'10, 206||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||142||696||5||4.9||3.3||45.1%||2||1|
|Justin Silmon||RB||5'10, 191||So.||NR||NR||78||355||2||4.6||3.4||42.3%||0||0|
|Winston Dimel||FB||6'1, 235||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8050||28||86||6||3.1||2.5||25.0%||1||1|
|Dalvin Warmack||RB||5'8, 187||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8606||12||64||0||5.3||4.3||41.7%||0||0|
|Alex Delton||QB||6'0, 201||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8609||4||18||0||4.5||1.0||75.0%||0||0|
|Austin Katsorelos||FB||6'1, 229||Sr.||NR||NR|
|Alex Barnes||RB||6'1, 226||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8298|
|Tyler Burns||RB||5'11, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8199|
|Mike McCoy||RB||6'2, 215||Fr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8456|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||Targets||Catches||Yards||Catch Rate||Target
|Deante Burton||WR||6'2, 205||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8041||94||38||510||40.4%||28.7%||5.4||42.6%||34.0%||1.50|
|Dominique Heath||WR||5'9, 175||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7983||43||28||313||65.1%||13.1%||7.3||51.2%||48.8%||1.37|
|Charles Jones||RB||5'10, 206||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||17||12||139||70.6%||5.2%||8.2||70.6%||23.5%||3.11|
|Zach Reuter||WR||6'3, 190||So.||NR||0.7000||17||6||47||35.3%||5.2%||2.8||41.2%||23.5%||0.79|
|Winston Dimel||FB||6'1, 235||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8050||13||8||261||61.5%||4.0%||20.1||46.2%||61.5%||3.28|
|Steven West||WR||6'1, 200||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8111||5||3||42||60.0%||1.5%||8.4||60.0%||40.0%||2.23|
|Cody Small||TE||6'5, 241||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8289||4||0||0||0.0%||1.2%||0.0||75.0%||0.0%||0.00|
|Dayton Valentine||TE||6'4, 262||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7600||3||0||0||0.0%||0.9%||0.0||33.3%||0.0%||0.00|
|Denzel Goolsby||WR||5'11, 190||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8269|
|Isaiah Zuber||WR||6'0, 180||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8407|
|Byron Pringle||WR||6'2, 212||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8576|
|Corey Sutton||WR||6'2, 200||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8362|
|Nick Lenners||TE||6'4, 235||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8215|
|D.J. Render||WR||5'11, 175||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8209|
5. Wanted: big plays
Granted, losing Cook means having to replace both your No. 2 WR and No. 2 QB, but at first glance, it appears the skill positions return a decent amount of efficiency options. Running back Charles Jones has not hinted at even the slightest bit of explosiveness in his time in Manhattan, but he's turned into a steady five-yard guy, and sophomore Justin Silmon was his statistical clone last year. Sophomore Dominique Heath could turn into a viable, efficient slot receiver type as well.
What we're not sure about, once again, is big plays. Barring a breakout from someone like sophomore Dalvin Warmack, the run game is what it is, but when you're that efficient running the ball, you should be able to work play action to your favor. Hubener couldn't, but better quarterbacking (either from a more experienced Hubener or someone else) could lead to a big year for senior Deante Burton. Burton took on a huge load of targets last year but was dreadfully all-or-nothing. He had his moments -- five catches for 135 yards against WVU, for instance -- but 38 catches in 94 targets is just awful.
You never want to rely on newcomers to save the day, but mid-three-star JUCO transfer Byron Pringle was in Manhattan for spring ball and thrived. He caught 28 passes for 432 yards at Butler CC last year, and he caught a 73-yard bomb from Hubener in the spring game. Pringle's emergence overshadowed solid spring play from redshirt freshmen Isaiah Zuber and Denzel Goolsby. Expectations for him are now uncomfortably high, but if he were able to ease into the No. 1 role and average 8 yards per target or so, everything else could fall in line.
If KSU is producing a few more big plays, and the QB situation is more stable, the Wildcats can move on to Worry No. 3 for the offense: a rebuilt line. It played a role in the run game's efficiency, and four of five starters are now gone.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||2015 Starts||Career Starts||Honors/Notes|
|Cody Whitehair||LT||13||51||2015 2nd All-Big 12|
|Dalton Risner||C||6'5, 300||So.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8681||13||13|
|Terrale Johnson||RG||6'1, 303||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7000||4||4|
|Will Ash||LG||6'3, 325||Sr.||NR||NR||0||0|
|Bryce Fitzner||LT||6'7, 292||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.8333||0||0|
|A.J. Allen||OL||6'6, 300||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8372||0||0|
|Ajahne Brager||LG||6'3, 303||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8212||0||0|
|Reid Najvar||C||6'4, 290||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8032||0||0|
|Alec Ruth||OL||6'7, 300||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8264||0||0|
|Scott Frantz||LT||6'5, 275||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8450|
|Adam Holtorf||OL||6'4, 279||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8119|
|Tyler Mitchell||RG||6'4, 301||RSFr.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7939|
|Breontae Matthews||RT||6'6, 315||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8507|
|Abdul Beecham||RT||6'3, 285||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8271|
|Blake Hickey||OL||6'4, 285||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8340|
|FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE|
|Raw Category||Rk||Opp. Adj. Category||Rk|
|EFFICIENCY||Succ. Rt.||48.2%||120||Succ. Rt. +||96.1||80|
|FIELD POSITION||Off. Avg. FP||32.5||18||Off. FP+||32.7||17|
|FINISHING DRIVES||Pts. Per Scoring Opportunity||4.6||82||Redzone S&P+||95.0||87|
|Q1 Rk||98||1st Down Rk||76|
|Q2 Rk||88||2nd Down Rk||79|
|Q3 Rk||37||3rd Down Rk||85|
6. Bend, then break
KSU has proven that you can win a lot of games with a bend-don't-break defense. The Wildcats for quite a while mastered the art of forming an umbrella, giving you as many five-yard passes as you desire, and waiting to pounce on any mistake you make.
In 2015, KSU bent and broke. The efficiency ratings were poor, but they were accompanied by far too many big plays. Granted, pace and conference didn't help, but the Wildcats allowed 221 gains of 10-plus yards, 122nd in the country.
KSU was indeed good in short-yardage situations (eighth in power success rate), and the pass rush was excellent in obvious-pass situations (fifth in passing downs sack rate), but the Wildcats were awful on first-and-10, and little else mattered. After two good weeks against inferior opponents, KSU was gashed repeatedly the rest of the year.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Will Geary||DT||6'0, 297||Jr.||NR||NR||12||40.0||5.3%||7.0||3.5||0||0||2||0|
|Jordan Willis||DE||6'5, 250||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8109||13||32.5||4.3%||15.0||9.5||0||3||4||0|
|Tanner Wood||DE||6'5, 263||Jr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8847||13||29.5||3.9%||4.0||2.0||0||1||0||0|
|Craig Settles, Jr.||DT||6'5, 310||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||NR||2||4.0||0.5%||1.0||1.0||0||0||0||0|
|Matt Seiwert||DT||6'3, 285||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.7856||13||3.0||0.4%||0.0||0.0||0||2||0||0|
|Davis Clark||DE||6'2, 255||Jr.||NR||NR||5||2.5||0.3%||2.5||0.5||0||0||0||0|
|Aulelio Olomua||DE||6'5, 245||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8447|
|C.J. Reese||DE||6'1, 265||So.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8264|
|Mitch Copeland||DT||6'0, 260||So.||NR||NR|
|Reggie Walker||DE||6'2, 239||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8625|
|Trey Dishon||DT||6'2, 317||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.8194|
|Ray Price||DT||6'2, 290||Jr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8106|
|Bronson Massie||DE||6'4, 220||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8315|
|Jordon Robertson||DT||6'3, 255||Fr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8112|
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|Elijah Lee||LB||6'3, 218||Jr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8612||13||73.5||9.8%||7.5||5.0||3||1||1||0|
|Charmeachealle Moore||LB||6'0, 221||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8000||12||51.0||6.8%||5.5||3.0||0||0||1||0|
|Will Davis||LB||6'0, 224||Sr.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8524||13||47.0||6.3%||0.5||0.5||1||2||0||0|
|Sam Sizelove||LB||6'3, 217||So.||3 stars (5.6)||0.8478||13||13.5||1.8%||0.5||0.0||0||0||1||0|
|Colborn Couchman||LB||6'2, 218||Sr.||NR||NR||10||10.0||1.3%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Jayd Kirby||LB||6'2, 220||Jr.||3 stars (5.6)||NR||11||7.0||0.9%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Trent Tanking||LB||6'2, 220||Jr.||NR||NR||8||6.0||0.8%||0.0||0.0||0||0||0||0|
|Cameron Morgan||LB||5'10, 194||Sr.||NR||NR|
|Elijah Sullivan||LB||6'0, 209||RSFr.||3 stars (5.7)||0.8835|
|Justin Hughes||LB||6'1, 210||RSFr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8166|
|Chase Johnston||LB||6'3, 220||RSFr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8166|
|Jimmy McKinney||LB||6'1, 225||Fr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8130|
7. Havoc potential
A little more aggressiveness might look good on this front seven. The return of end Jordan Willis gives KSU one of the Big 12's most proven pass rushers, and he has nice complementary pieces in lienbackers Elijah Lee and Charmeachealle Moore, tackles Will Geary and Craig Settles Jr., and end Tanner Wood. Redshirt freshmen Reggie Walker and Trey Dishon had a nice spring, and overall the speed of this front seven seems pretty solid. Putting these piece into attacking positions might pay off.
That really isn't the mantra of this defense, though, and for all of the potential speed here, the down-to-down consistency was dreadful. Too many five-yard gains turned into 10-yard gains, and when tackle Will Geary was suspended for the bowl game, Arkansas took whatever yards it wanted. (The Razorbacks probably would have done so anyway.)
Despite a couple of losses up front, the overall level of returning production is excellent. Lee, Moore, and Wood were all first-time starters, and their return, plus that of most of the second string, should lead to improvement. But after ranking 95th in Rushing S&P+, you need a lot of improvement.
|Rivals||247 Comp.||GP||Tackles||% of Team||TFL||Sacks||Int||PBU||FF||FR|
|FS||6'1, 193||Sr.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8076||13||66.5||9.4%||4||0||3||8||0||0|
|Donnie Starks||NB||6'0, 180||Sr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7000||13||50.5||6.7%||2||1||0||4||0||0|
|Sean Newlan||FS||6'2, 204||Jr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7444||13||50.0||6.7%||1||0||0||0||1||0|
|Kendall Adams||SS||6'1, 213||So.||2 stars (5.4)||0.8311||12||37.5||5.0%||3.5||1||0||0||0||0|
|Duke Shelley||CB||5'9, 160||So.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8757||8||28.0||3.7%||1||0||0||7||0||0|
|CB||5'10, 180||Sr.||4 stars (5.8)||0.8923||7||8.5||1.1%||0.5||0||0||2||0||0|
|Colby Moore||DB||6'1, 197||So.||2 stars (5.2)||0.7483||9||6.5||0.9%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Jesse Mack||SS||6'0, 180||Sr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8247||5||5.0||0.7%||0||0||0||1||0||0|
|Brogan Barry||DB||6'2, 195||Jr.||NR||NR||5||3.5||0.5%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Ryan Mack||NB||5'9, 175||Jr.||NR||NR||12||2.0||0.3%||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Tevin Geddis||CB||5'11, 185||Sr.||NR||NR|
|Cre Moore||DB||6'0, 175||Jr.||3 stars (5.5)||0.8306|
|Nate Guidry Jr.||DB||6'0, 189||Jr.||NR||0.7700|
|Johnathan Durham||CB||6'0, 180||RSFr.||2 stars (5.3)||0.7652|
|D.J. Reed||DB||5'11, 190||Jr.||NR||NR|
|Jordan Noil||DB||6'2, 183||So.||NR||0.7994|
8. Keeping your starters on the field
I thought the pass defense would be a strength for KSU, and technically it was, if only relatively speaking. The Wildcats were helpless against good passing offenses -- TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Arkansas: 88-for-121 for 1,371 yards, 11 TDs, three INTs, and a 192.9 passer rating -- but they had their hands tied behind their backs from the start: ace safety Dante Barnett missed almost the entire season with injury. Then top returning corner Danzel McDaniel got hurt a month later. The top four returning contributors missed a combined 25 games.
From the "injuries hurt in the present tense and help in the future tense" perspective, this year's secondary should be decent. Barnett's back, and fellow safeties Donnie Starks and Sean Newlan (the only two regulars who didn't miss time) got far more experience than expected last year, as did Duke Shelley, the star of the 2015 recruiting class. Shelley and fellow sophomore Kendall Adams combined for 4.5 tackles for loss and seven passes defensed. And now Cal graduate transfer Cedric Dozier and JUCO D.J. Reed join the mix as well.
There are more answers at safety than cornerback (which I guess is preferable considering how much time KSU spends in the nickel defense), and CB depth could still be an issue. But I would expect KSU to rise quite a bit over last year's No. 65 Passing S&P+ ranking.
|Nick Walsh||5'11, 212||Jr.||67||41.6||8||25||13||56.7%|
|Mitch Lochbihler||6'7, 240||Jr.||4||44.5||1||2||2||100.0%|
|Ian Patterson||6'0, 211||Sr.||65||60.4||15||1||23.1%|
|Matthew McCrane||5'10, 165||Jr.||15-15||6-6||100.0%||1-1||100.0%|
|Dominique Heath||KR||5'9, 175||So.||4||11.5||0|
|Dominique Heath||PR||5'9, 175||So.||21||7.2||0|
|Special Teams S&P+||9|
|Field Goal Efficiency||10|
|Punt Return Success Rate||76|
|Kick Return Success Rate||4|
|Punt Success Rate||52|
|Kickoff Success Rate||63|
9. *Yawn* another great special teams unit
Kansas State lost one of the best return men in the country in 2014 (Tyler Lockett) and somehow got even more dangerous in the return game in 2015. Granted, punt returns were pretty mediocre, but Morgan Burns fielded 34 kickoffs last fall and managed to take four of them to the house. That is an astounding ratio, and along with solid place-kicking, it allowed KSU to once again grade out well in special teams. It's what Bill Snyder teams do.
Burns is now gone, but while Dominique Heath was relatively unimpressive in returns last year, it's just so hard to worry about KSU in this regard, isn't it?
2016 Schedule & Projection Factors
|Date||Opponent||Proj. S&P+ Rk||Proj. Margin||Win Probability|
|1-Oct||at West Virginia||33||-10.7||27%|
|29-Oct||at Iowa State||71||-2.7||44%|
|Projected wins: 5.2|
|Five-Year F/+ Rk||22.7% (25)|
|2- and 5-Year Recruiting Rk||63 / 61|
|2015 TO Margin / Adj. TO Margin*||-3 / 0.5|
|2015 TO Luck/Game||-1.3|
|Returning Production (Off. / Def.)||70% (77%, 62%)|
|2015 Second-order wins (difference)||4.3 (1.7)|
10. A lot to prove
I don't think anyone was going to be too surprised if, at the end of 2015, Snyder hung up the coach sneakers one last time. While it was easy to expect a drop-off, the fall was more precipitous than expected.
Injuries had a lot to do with that, though, and last year's dings have created more experience for this season.
While special teams might regress a bit, and a lack of offensive line experience is a concern, I find myself assuming KSU's run offense, pass offense, run defense, and pass defense will all improve. The question is, will they improve enough? Aside from run efficiency and returns, KSU didn't really have any distinct strengths in 2015; is there enough raw talent to make a move back into the S&P+ top 50?
Since S&P+ doesn't care about injuries, projections -- a No. 67 ranking and 5.2 wins -- are pretty pessimistic. I'm going to assume the Wildcats figure out a way to get back to 6-6 or so, but after falling so far a year ago, Snyder suddenly has quite a bit to prove in his 25th year in charge.