Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Midseason review: Kansas State
By ESPN.com staff
KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
Record: 5-0 (2-0 Big 12)
Kansas State has earned the title of the Big 12's most surprising team through its first half, and like Oklahoma State in 2010, is all alone in collecting the honor. It's happened via a disciplined defense that's exponentially faster than it was a year ago, buoyed by newcomers Arthur Brown at linebacker and cornerback Nigel Malone. Additionally, the development of junior college transfer David Garrett and sophomore Ty Zimmerman, as well as converted safety Emmanuel Lamur playing linebacker alongside Brown, has completely changed the face of Kansas State's team.
The season started modestly, with a 10-7 win over Eastern Kentucky, but the Wildcats have racked up wins against Miami, Baylor and Missouri since. Collin Klein is carrying the team on his back, leading the Big 12 in carries. All the focus entering the season was on the Brown brothers, and while Arthur has blossomed into a star and one of the league's top talents, Bryce Brown's status with the team is tenuous at best as he deals with a personal situation. It hasn't mattered on the field for the rest of the team. John Hubert has assumed the role of featured back and served the team well.
All that stands between K-State and one of the biggest games in school history, when they Oklahoma in two weeks, are trips to Texas Tech and Kansas. The second half of the season will be much dicier as the meat of the schedule hits. So far though Kansas State has been as good as anyone could have expected, and as a result, it has ascended to just outside the top 15.
Offensive MVP: Collin Klein, QB. Klein's passes aren't pretty, but he's getting it done for the 'Cats and taking a beating along the way. He's leading the Big 12 in carries with 115. There are eight running backs on the carries list before another quarterback. Klein's rushed for 468 yards and seven touchdowns, and thrown for 593 yards while completing 57 percent of his passes.
Defensive MVP: Arthur Brown, LB. Brown has a legit case as the Big 12's best defensive player through the first half of the season. The linebacker's been flying around and ranks fifth in the Big 12 with 38 tackles, with 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. He also came up with the biggest play of the year, intercepting Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (the only player to score a pick off of Griffin) that helped set up the game-winning field goal that kept K-State undefeated.