Three things we learned in the spring about the Kansas State Wildcats
1. The defense will be better: On its way to claiming the 2012 Big 12 title, K-State boasted the top defense in the league. After some shaky moments last season, the Wildcats should be stout again defensively, led by all-conference defensive end Ryan Mueller.
2. Jake Waters is a confident QB: Waters’ first start at K-State ended in a loss to FCS opponent North Dakota State. Waters, however, improved rapidly throughout the season, leading the Wildcats to wins in six of their final seven games. Waters looked even more confident this spring, capped with a crisp spring game outing in which he didn’t even have favorite target Tyler Lockett.
3. The offensive line should be solid: K-State graduated both offensive tackles from last year’s line, but quickly solidified those holes this spring. All-Big 12 guard Cody Whitehair swung to left tackle, while juco transfer Luke Hayes immediately stepped in and took over right tackle. With B.J. Finney manning center for a fourth year in a row, the Wildcats could field one of the league’s top lines.
Three questions for the fall
1. Can Daniel Sams help as a WR? After watching the last few games last season from the sideline, the former QB requested a position change in the offseason. Sams had only 9 yards receiving in the spring game and remains a work in progress as a receiver. But if he settles into his new role, he could be a factor again offensively.
2. Who will be the featured running back? The Wildcats went into the spring hoping to uncover a replacement for three-year starter John Hubert. But Jarvis Leverett, Charles Jones and DeMarcus Robinson couldn't separate, leaving the competition cloudy heading into the fall – and the door open for highly touted incoming freshman Dalvin Warmack to make a run at the job.
3. Will the jucos produce? Bill Snyder has a track record of relying on juco signees, and this year is no different. Hayes and cornerback Danzel McDaniel both made an impression in the spring, and coveted defensive tackle Terrell Clinkscales and linebacker D'Vonta Derricott will be arriving in the summer. To contend for the Big 12 title, K-State needs the bulk of its juco class to produce.
One way-too-early prediction
Warmack, who rushed for 4,500 yards and 70 touchdowns and averaged 9 yards per carry his final two seasons at Blue Springs (Mo.) High School, will take over as K-State’s primary running back before October.