K-State at a Glance
Coach: Bill Snyder
Coach Year at school: 22nd
2012 record: 11-2, 8-1 Big 12
Last year vs. KU: The game was close for a half, but the Wildcats, who led 21-14 at halftime, outscored KU 35-2 in the second half and scored four touchdowns in a span of eight offensive plays during the third quarter that led to a 56-16 rout.
Returning starters: 11
Impact newcomers: Jake Waters, 6-1, 210, Jr., QB; Deante Burton 6-2, 205, Fr., WR; Devon Nash, 6-5, 264, Jr., DE; Travis Green 6-1, 207, Jr., DB.
Key games: Sept. 21 at Texas; Oct. 5 at Oklahoma State; Nov. 16 vs. TCU; Nov. 23 vs. Oklahoma.
Vs. Kansas: Nov. 30 in Lawrence.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has been through this whole song and dance before: The media and others outside of Manhattan pick the Wildcats to finish in the middle of the Big 12 Conference standings and by year’s end look foolish when KSU is not only among the best teams in the Big 12 but also in the country.
That was the case in 2012 when Snyder’s crew won the Big 12 title and came within a game of playing for the national championship. All of that after being picked sixth in the Big 12.
Fast-forward to 2013 and a slightly different looking K-State team has been picked sixth once again. Not to worry, says Snyder. That’s life in the Little Apple.
“I think I said last year that, if I were given the opportunity, I would have picked us 99th,” Snyder said in late July. “It’s precarious trying to make those kinds of decisions as the season gets started.”
Dangerous or not, this much we know about Snyder’s squad this season. Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein is no longer calling the shots, and returning back-up Daniel Sams and junior-college transfer Jake Waters are battling to fill his shoes. Making life easier for both KSU quarterbacks is the return of the entire offensive line as well as senior tailback John Hubert, one of seven returning starters on offense, who was a preseason second-team all-Big 12 pick after rushing for 947 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2012.
Defensively, the Wildcats lost middle linebacker Arthur Brown to the NFL Draft and much of the rest of their front seven but return defensive backs Ty Zimmerman, a senior captain from Junction City, and seven-game starter Randall Evans.
“Our program is no different than any other in that the dynamics of the program change year in and year out regardless of how many you do or do not have returning,” Snyder said. “(We lost) a lot of quality young guys (on offense). And when you lose as many as we did on defense as well, that can have an impact on your special teams because so many of your defensive players play on special teams.”
As the rest of the conference’s offenses speed up around him, Snyder has maintained consistent success by breeding tough football players who follow his game plan to a tee and rarely beat themselves.
Regardless of who fills what roles or what names become the new stars in Manhattan, it’s a safe bet that Snyder’s squad will not be thinking about its 2012 championship and, instead, will be a handful once again in 2013.
“I don’t know that anything has changed,” Snyder said. “(And) I don’t think we’ve responded to (last year’s success) any differently than we would (normally).”
K-State opens the season, and its new West Stadium Center expansion project, Aug. 30 against North Dakota State.