Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Midseason analysis: Kansas State
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Kansas State Wildcats
Record: 4-3, 2-1
It’s not a misprint, I promise. The Kansas State Wildcats are sitting in first place in the Big 12’s North Division midway through the season. After earlier losses at Louisiana-Lafayette and UCLA and a 66-14 blowout loss to Texas Tech, that was a far-fetched notion. But KSU coach Bill Snyder has developed a resilient, over-achieving team that is in position to make a surprising charge at the Big 12 North title if they can maintain their start. Snyder has juggled quarterbacks Grant Gregory and Carson Coffman and relied on the running of Daniel Thomas and the playmaking skills of Brandon Banks. The defense came on in the victory against Texas A&M to produce six sacks after producing five combined sacks earlier in the season. Because two of their victories were over FCS opponents, the Wildcats effectively need seven victories to make a bowl trip. That might be hard considering their upcoming schedule, but their early start gives them hope they can at least keep confounding the skeptics.
Most valuable offensive player, TB Daniel Thomas: The converted former quarterback from Northwest Mississippi Junior College has thrived as the Wildcats’ leading rusher. Thomas leads the Wildcats with 669 yards and eight touchdowns, including a four-TD burst in the game against A&M last week despite playing only in the first half. He leads the conference with 145 carries and started his career with the Wildcats with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games against Massachusetts and Louisiana-Lafayette -- the first time in 43 years that a Wildcat had back-to-back 100-yard rushing games to start a career. He’s had three 100-yard games and two more of at least 90 yards to become the Wildcats’ most consistent offensive threat.
Most valuable defensive player, DE Jeffrey Fitzgerald: In his first season with the Wildcats after transferring from Virginia, Fitzgerald has developed into their top producer along the defensive front. Fitzgerald has produced a team-leading totals of seven tackles for losses and 4.5 sacks -- including two against Texas A&M last week. He’s also notched a 17-yard pass interception return for a touchdown against Texas Tech.