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Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Mailbag: K-State edition

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Thanks for the questions, all. Had more for the Wildcats than just about any other team we've done so far.  Here are the past mailbags: Eathan Jaax in Manhattan, Kan., asks: Alright DU, Lets hear it, Why all the doubts for KSU this year after we improved almost all of our positions? The only question right now is QB.

David Ubben: Most of the people who doubt Kansas State this year do it because you can look at the Wildcats' first year with Bill Snyder in two different ways: One, it's impressive that they came within a game of winning the North. Or two, they didn't beat anybody or play anybody great in the nonconference and still only finished 6-6.

Their two best wins came in a nail-biter over Iowa State on a neutral field, which won seven games last year. And they blew out Texas A&M, which won six games. But Missouri and Texas Tech blew them out, and it's hard to earn any unanimous respect when you lose to Louisiana-Lafayette the previous season. I've made my thoughts on Kansas State pretty clear; it'll be in the conversation for the North title in November. I don't believe it'll win it, but I've seen a few people peg the Wildcats last in the North. No way that happens, either.


@AndyBottoms asks on Twitter: what are the odds we see Chris Harper and Daniel Thomas in the backfield together?

DU: I'd have to think it's pretty good. I haven't had a chance to see Harper in action as a Wildcat yet, but both of those guys are playmakers with the capability to throw. I'd love to see Thomas take snaps in the Wildcat with Harper running in motion and the QB, whoever it may be, lined up wide.


Willie the Wildcat in Yuma, Ariz., asks: Since it will be well into the season and the surprise factor of how good the Cats will be in 2010 will already be out of the bag, how much of a struggle will Mack Brown and the Longhorns put up when they travel to Manhattan for their regular beating like a rented mule?

DU: Ha, first off, why are you out in Arizona, Willie? Seeing a medical specialist about that whole big-cat-head-but-human-arms-and-legs condition? Best of luck with that, and let me know if I can help out in any way. But funny you ask about Texas. In my Texas best/worst-case scenario post from yesterday, I actually mentioned this game specifically as one that could be a potential upset. Texas' history in Manhattan is part of that, but really, I think the teams that are going to have success against Texas are the ones that can establish themselves on the line of scrimmage and run the ball. In short, Kansas State. The Longhorns' secondary is going to squash spread teams, but the Wildcats bring back four offensive linemen from last year's team and the conference's most productive back -- who still has a lot of upside, I might add -- in Daniel Thomas. I wouldn't bet on it happening, but of all the teams on Texas' schedule that the Longhorns are markedly better than, Kansas State has the best shot to spring the upset.


Ben in St. Petersburg, Fla., asks: Who's your surprise player you're most looking forward to seeing? I want to see Adam Repass-Odruna (or however you spell it). Mainly because I want to see a 5'4" player on a D1 football field.

DU: For the record, it's Repass-Orduna, but yes, he'll be a guy I want to see all 161 pounds of this season. As far as major contributors, I have to go with the obvious choice: Chris Harper. Kansas State really needs a guy who can make a big play, and if Harper proves to be that guy, he's going to balance out the Wildcats' offense, which ranked 106th nationally in passing last season.


Ben in St. Petersburg, Fla., asks: Everyone seemingly assumes that Coffman will be the starter because of his spring game numbers against the 2nd team D. But Klein didn't even get a chance to play because of an injury, what chances do you give Klein to actually be the starter come Sept 4th?

DU: Back again, Ben? Looks like it. Klein has a great, great shot to start, but it's going to depend on how he performs in practices, so he'll have plenty of time to make his case in camp. Coffman's performance gave him a very slight edge in the race, but Snyder said last week at media days it's still a very open competition.

"We just do not have a clear-cut number one right now," Snyder said. "The first snap that the quarterback will take with our number ones will be Carson Coffman. Came out of the spring not necessarily as the number one, but that individual will take the first rep, and then Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur, and all three of them, I think, will compete diligently. We'll hopefully make improvement day in and day out, and we'll make a selection as soon as it's clear cut in our minds."


MultiTodd in Portland, Ore., asks: Which game on the schedule would you say is a must-win for K-State? I want to say Nebraska at home, but it's probably Iowa State at Arrowhead. Your thoughts?

DU: Depends on what the goal is. If Kansas State wants to get back to a bowl game, it absolutely has to beat Iowa State. But there's no way the Wildcats are winning the North if they can't beat Nebraska. If Kansas State wins the North, it'll probably do it with two conference losses, and Nebraska can't be one of them.