Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Weak and Strong: Kansas State Wildcats
By David Ubben
Turnover is an annual tradition in college football, but with that, teams' strengths and weaknesses constantly shift, too. Today, we'll continue our look at the biggest strengths and weaknesses for each Big 12 team.
Next up: Kansas State.
Strongest position: Offensive line.
K-State already had one of the best offensive lines in the Big 12 last season, posting 42 rushing touchdowns, the most in the Big 12. It also had the fourth-most rushing yards in the league and the fourth highest yards per carry average while giving up just 14 sacks, second-fewest in the Big 12.
I've got bad news for the rest of the Big 12: Just one player from K-State's two-deep on the 2012 offensive line will be gone. Starters B.J. Finney and Cornelius Lucas return to headline the unit, flanked by Cody Whitehair, Keenan Taylor and Tavon Rooks. Boston Stiverson provided additional depth, but only reserve left guard Nick Puetz won't return from the 2012 Big 12 title team.
K-State loses quarterback Collin Klein, but the strong play up front should make life easier for running back John Hubert, who topped 900 yards rushing in each of the past two seasons, helping K-State win 22 games over that span. New quarterback Daniel Sams or Jake Waters will certainly look a little better behind these big guys up front with a lot of experience and even more talent.
Weakest position: Linebacker
On the flip side, no position has been hit harder by the losses from last year's team than linebacker. K-State returns just two starters on defense and no position was hit harder than linebacker. Tre Walker will return from a knee injury and should be a leader for the unit, but only one player on the season-ending two deep at all three linebacker positions returns: Junior Jonathan Truman, who was 10th on the team with 25 tackles. Walker's a solid player and was playing well before going down in the middle of the season, but you never really know how guys will look when they come back from knee injuries, especially a position like linebacker that depends so heavily on explosion and change of direction.
K-State will have to fill a whole lot of spots this spring once practice opens next month, and it's clear the task ahead won't be easy for defensive coordinator Tom Hayes and linebackers coach Mike Cox. Guys like Arthur Brown don't come around very often, and even replacing solid talents like Justin Tuggle and Jarell Childs is tougher than you'd think. We'll see how K-State matches up this fall. It's all about finding guys ready to step up and assume a much bigger role on the defense.
More Weak and Strong.