Big 12: Brodrick Smith

Kansas State announced plans for expansion on Bill Snyder Family Stadium in January, but after an anonymous $5 million pledge, the Wildcats will break ground on the expansion in a ceremony prior to the spring game on April 28.

"We would not be making this step forward if we did not feel like there was enough momentum from our fundraising team and the donors who have expressed interest in this project in moving forward," Kansas State athletic director John Currie told reporters.

K-State has secured $40 million in contributions toward the $75 million stadium renovation, which will tear down the existing press box and build a new limestone structure on the stadium that officials want to serve as a gateway to the campus.

The additions will be built during the 2012 season, but the school hopes the West Stadium Center will be open for the 2013 season.

"It's an aggressive schedule, but it's also a realistic schedule," Currie told reporters. "We look (the contractors) in the eye every day like we did yesterday and say, ‘We've got three football games to start that season at home, so we've got to be ready.'"

From the Topeka Capital-Journal:
The new west-side structure will feature fan amenities, a ticket office, a dining hall for athletes and 40 luxury suites, all of which have been pre-sold.

K-State has the capacity to sell more suites, but Currie said 40 was the ideal balance of supply and demand.

"We wanted to be real careful to understand our market and not have too many of anything," Currie said. "The gifts that were associated with those suites were very significant, as much as half a million dollars for a particular suite."

This should be a good move for K-State. There's lots of money in the new Big 12, and the Wildcats have one of the best home atmospheres in the league. They also have one of the press boxes most in need of an upgrade, which they'll get.

Kansas State also released its spring roster, which featured several notable omissions.

Brodrick Smith, a former starter who would have been a senior in 2012, was the most notable omission. Defensive end Brandon Harold was also not on the roster after leaving the team in August. Shaun Simon was starting on the offensive line in fall camp before suffering an injury in the season opener, and he wasn't on the roster. Also, 2011 defensive end signee Ian Seau, the nephew of NFL great Junior Seau, was not on the roster.
Kansas State and Texas Tech kick off in Lubbock at 7 p.m. ET Saturday night, but the Wildcats will be without two of their top five receivers, according to the Kansas City Star/Wichita Eagle.

Senior Sheldon Smith (12 rec., 74 yards, touchdown) and junior Brodrick Smith (five rec, 55 yards) will both miss Saturday's game.

A team spokesman declined to comment on their absence.

Life is already difficult for the Kansas State passing game, which ranks last in the Big 12 by a full 89 yards per game.

Look for leading receiver Chris Harper to get a lot of work Saturday night against a suspect secondary at Texas Tech.
The Big 12 might be weak at the top of the running back heap, but it's definitely not at receiver. The conference has at least three of the top five receivers in the country, and the top two. They highlight a very strong group of receivers across the league, and I continue our position rankings with receivers today.

Remember that depth plays a big part of these rankings. We'll be ranking the top 10 individuals at each position later on before the season begins.

Other position rankings: 1. Oklahoma

[+] EnlargeRyan Broyles
J.P. Wilson/Icon SMIRyan Broyles finished the 2010 season with 131 catches for 1,622 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Sooners have the nation's No. 2 receiver, Ryan Broyles, but found a handful of others to surround him in 2010 and should have a couple more in 2011. Sophomore Kenny Stills broke Broyles' freshman receiving record and looks like a budding star. Dejuan Miller came on strong before a season-ending knee injury, but he's back. The Sooners lose Cameron Kenney, but Trey Franks had a strong freshman campaign, and freshmen Justin McCay (redshirt) and Trey Metoyer could provide even more playmakers.

2. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys boast the returning Biletnikoff Award winner and 2011 favorite, Justin Blackmon, with a great group around him, too. Slot machine Josh Cooper returns for his senior year, and fellow senior Hubert Anyiam (the team's leading receiver in 2009) is hoping to return to form after being slowed by an ankle injury in 2010. Isaiah Anderson is a shifty speedster, while Michael Harrison and Tracy Moore offer a more aerial approach to receiving.

3. Texas A&M

The Aggies have the Big 12's No. 3 receiver, Jeff Fuller, who is arguably one of the top-five in the college game. But they also have the Big 12's most experienced receiving unit, with guys who won't be surprised by anything they see in Big 12 play. Juniors Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu are the team's second and third options, but fellow juniors Kenric McNeal and Brandal Jackson could be bigger pieces of the offense in 2011. Tight end Nehemiah Hicks should see his profile rise in his coming sophomore year.

4. Baylor

Top target Kendall Wright will likely end his career as the Bears' leading receiver for all four of his seasons on the field, and 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior Josh Gordon looks like the new Jeff Fuller. Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson and Tevin Reese round out the Bears' top five, who all had at least 40 catches last season, and all return.

5. Missouri

Missouri still lacks a proven big-play threat, but has two pass-catchers who have some of the best hands in the game. Receiver T.J. Moe and tight end Michael Egnew won't drop many passes, and combined to catch 182 for 1,807 yards and 11 touchdowns. Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson bring a lot of experience and both had at least 39 catches last season. If Marcus Lucas or Rolandis Woodland can become a consistent downfield threat, Missouri will rise up these rankings by season's end.

6. Texas Tech

Tech's top two receivers, Lyle Leong and Detron Lewis, must be replaced, but the Red Raiders have a few solid candidates to do it. Junior Alex Torres will likely lead the group, but fellow junior Austin Zouzalik and seniors Jacoby Franks and Tramain Swindall will be counted on for more production. Dark horse/juco newcomer Marcus Kennard could blossom into a household name across the Big 12 by season's end.

7. Texas

Sophomore Mike Davis and redshirt freshman Darius White are loaded with potential, but two of the team's top three receivers (James Kirkendoll, John Chiles) are gone, and no Texas receiver caught more than two touchdowns last season. Malcolm Williams and Marquise Goodwin are as different as two receivers could be, but both need to break out to help whoever becomes the Longhorns quarterback next fall.

8. Kansas State

Brodrick Smith will be back this season after breaking his leg in a loss to Nebraska. But two of the team's top three receivers are gone, leaving converted quarterback Chris Harper as the leading returner, though Smith might have held that title if he'd stayed healthy. Sophomore speedster Tramaine Thompson can make plays if he gets the ball with some space.

9. Iowa State

The Cyclones will be breaking in a new quarterback this season and they will need a playmaker to step up. Tight end Collin Franklin led team in receiving last season but he is now gone. Darius Reynolds looks like a possible candidate to fill the role, although incoming slot receiver Aaron Horne might rack up a few catches in space. Darius Darks and Josh Lenz should earn some more targets too.

10. Kansas

Converted defensive back Daymond Patterson is the team's top receiver, but the team's No. 3 receiver junior Bradley McDougald, moved to safety in the middle of the season. Tight end Tim Biere is one of the Big 12's best and led the team with four touchdowns last season. Chris Omigie and D.J. Beshears have some potential, and converted quarterback Christian Matthews keeps showing up in spring games. But all three, along with the rest of the group, would benefit from some consistency at the quarterback spot.

The Revolving Door: Kansas State

May, 26, 2011
5/26/11
9:00
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I've done it. You've done it.

"Hey, is that guy still around?"

Even with two fewer teams, it's hard to keep track. Our next series, which we did last year, too, takes a look at two key players for every team in the league who are taking their talents elsewhere, returning to campus, or arriving to try to write a legacy of their own.

So really, this series isn't so much for the fans of the teams in the posts, but more for everyone else. It wouldn't be a bad idea to bookmark these.

Next up: Kansas State

Going:

Daniel Thomas, RB

Thomas came to Kansas State from junior college and joins a line of juco players turned FBS stars under coach Bill Snyder. The 6-foot-2, 228-pound back bounced off defenders and led the Big 12 in both carries and rushing yards in his two years in the league, finishing with 2,850 career rushing yards. He battled a shoulder injury his junior year, but played through it and his efforts paid off as a senior when he helped carry the Wildcats back to a bowl game for the first time since 2006. He was drafted by Miami in the second round.

Considering Kansas State's struggles throwing the ball during his time there, Thomas' production is even more staggering. Defenses knew he was coming, and he ran over and through them anyway.

Zach Kendall, OL

And how did Thomas do it? Kendall and the offensive line, which loses three starters from last year's team, were the biggest reason. Kendall, a 6-foot-2, 317-pounder, took over as the starting guard midway through the 2008 season and remained a constant on the line for the next two and a half seasons, taking over as one of the team captains in 2010 and earning All-Big 12 honors.

Staying:

David Garrett, CB

Garrett was a rarity last season, the Big 12's only cornerback to lead his team in tackles. That's not a great sign for the defense as a whole, but there's no denying Garrett is one of the team's best playmakers. A 5-foot-8, 175-pound junior college transfer made 92 tackles, including 68 solo stops. He's undersized, but the Big 12 is thin at cornerback. Don't be surprised if Garrett lands on the All-Big 12 first team next year.

Brodrick Smith, WR

Smith transferred from Minnesota and finally got on the field last year, jumping out to a nice start, catching 12 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns in his first three games, providing a much-needed target for Carson Coffman. But late in the game against Nebraska, Smith suffered an ugly broken leg that ended his season. He'll be back on the field again this year with a breakout season in mind.

Coming:

Ian Seau, DE

Seau comes from a rather obvious bloodline that bodes well for his football future. His uncle is veteran NFL linebacker Junior Seau. The Wildcats' top recruit from the 2011 class will get to campus this summer and try to crash the rotation on a defensive line that loses two starters from last year's team. The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Carlsbad, Calif., native may end up moving to linebacker, but for now, he's the nation's No. 18 defensive end.

Lamonte Clark, DT

Kansas State was pretty deliberate about its efforts to beef up the defensive line in this year's class. The top five signees from this February were all defensive linemen, and Clark is the biggest, by far. The Washington, D.C., native weighs in at 310 pounds, and stands 6-foot-4. There aren't many defensive linemen in this league that tip three bills on the scale, and Kansas State would certainly like to see him become a force up front.

Click here for more from The Revolving Door.

Kansas State spring wrap

May, 6, 2011
5/06/11
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KANSAS STATE

2010 overall record: 7-6

2010 conference record: 3-5

Returning starters: Offense (5), Defense (6) P/K (1)

Top returners: QB Collin Klein, CB David Garrett, S Tysyn Hartman, LB Alex Hrebec, S Ty Zimmerman, WR Brodrick Smith

Key losses: RB Daniel Thomas, WR Aubrey Quarles, OL Zach Kendall, DL Prizell Brown, QB Carson Coffman, RB/KR William Powell

2010 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Daniel Thomas (1,585 yards)

Passing: Carson Coffman (2,060 yards)

Receiving: Aubrey Quarles (765 yards)

Tackles: David Garrett* (92)

Sacks: Prizell Brown (5)

Interceptions: Ty Zimmerman* (3)

Three spring answers

1. Quarterback spot looks clear. It’s not over, but it’s obvious Klein will enter fall camp with a lead in the quarterback spot, ahead of Sammuel Lamur and Boston College transfer Justin Tuggle. He’s only thrown 18 career passes, but will the experience he gained on the field in 2010 should help entrench him as the starter next year.

2. Defensive playmaker emerges. Linebacker Arthur Brown returned home from Miami and sat out last year, per NCAA rules, but made an impact as a scout team defender. This spring, he moved up and will likely start next year. He made a game-high 14 tackles in the spring game and has speed unlike any other Wildcats linebacker.

3. Snyder works his juco mojo again. Juco cornerback Nigel Malone showed up to campus this spring from a junior college in California, and after just 15 practices he may be a starter across from one of the team’s stars, Garrett. Bill Snyder is known for his juco talent-mining skills, and with Malone it looks like he’s struck again.

Three fall questions

1. Who’s the running back? Daniel Thomas was a do-everything back for two years, but we may see a share of carries this year. Bryce Brown hasn’t had quite the impact his brother, Arthur, has, but he’s competing with John Hubert for a starting spot.

2. Where’s the D? Kansas State has found a few new pieces in Malone and Arthur Brown, but embattled defensive coordinator Chris Cosh is still there. The Wildcats defense struggled last year, ranking 11th in total defense. How much better can it be in 2011?

3. What’s in store from Klein? Even if Klein wins the job, he won’t be facing Kansas State’s secondary every week. Is he developed enough as a passer to give Kansas State a viable passing threat? That’s something the Wildcats didn't have with Carson Coffman or Grant Gregory, but can Klein buck the trend?

Opening spring camp: Kansas State

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
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Schedule: Kansas State opened spring practice on Wednesday with the first of 15 workouts, concluding with the annual spring game set for April 30.

What’s new: Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh came under fire after the Wildcats' defense struggled for most of 2010, ranking 11th in the Big 12 and 106th nationally in total defense. Coach Bill Snyder kept Cosh, however, and added his son, Sean Snyder, as the special teams coordinator and associate head coach. Snyder, a former K-State punter, had previously served only as director of football operations. The Wildcats also added Tom Hayes as secondary coach, replacing Keith Burns.

On the mend: None are more notable than receivers Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson. Smith sufffered a broken leg late in the loss to Nebraska and missed the rest of the season. Thompson, a shifty 5-foot-7, 165-pounder, also suffered a leg injury late in the season. The pair should be among K-State's leading receivers in 2011.

Key battle: Quarterback. All three springs in Bill Snyder's second term will have featured quarterback competitions. This time around, the key characters include Collin Klein, Sammuel Lamur and incoming transfer Justin Tuggle, who previously started at Boston College. Quarterback play has been a problem for Kansas State since Josh Freeman took his talents to the NFL, and to compete in the Big 12, the play simply has to be better.

Key battle II: Defensive line. Prizell Brown and Antonio Felder are both gone and must be replaced. All of Kansas State's top five recruits from the 2011 class were defensive linemen, and it's likely that at least a couple will start or find their way into the rotation.
Breaking out: Defensive back David Garrett. One of the bright spots of a struggling defense last year, Garrett led the team with 92 tackles and had 15 tackles for loss, which ranked fourth in the Big 12. He broke up nine passes, made three sacks and intercepted a pass. He somehow managed to be left out of the coaches' All-Big 12 team, but he should make plenty of offenses sit up and take notice this year.

Don’t forget about: Defensive end Brandon Harold. He had a quiet season in 2010, making just two sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. His talent was clear in his freshman season, though, when he had three sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. He's still a solid end, and could be due for a big year in 2011.

All eyes on: The Brown Brothers. The Wichita natives will be the story of the spring and, perhaps, the story of the 2011 season. On paper, both sound like possible program changers. Former five-star recruits, both signed with major programs out of high school. Bryce Brown, the running back, headed to Tennessee in 2009 and linebacker Arthur Brown went to Miami in 2008. Neither ended up being serious contributors, however, despite the talent showcased in high school. Now, they're back closer to home and hopeful that they'll be integral pieces of the Wildcats' offense and defense.

Lunch links: No upside-down Longhorns

October, 13, 2010
10/13/10
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Talented as the subject may be, I cannot support the first of what I can only assume will be many "Magic" themed songs about Taylor Martinez.

B.O.B. can't be happy about this.

Midseason review: Kansas State

October, 12, 2010
10/12/10
9:30
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Kansas State Wildcats

Record: 4-1 (1-1 Big 12)

Kansas State a better team than it was a year ago with improved personnel -- led by an influx of new receivers -- and improved returning starters. Despite an embarrassing loss to Nebraska last week, Kansas State is 4-1 and looks well-positioned to qualify for a bowl game, a step up from sitting at home with a 6-6 record and an extra FCS win on its résumé in 2009. The passing game suffered a huge blow with Brodrick Smith's broken leg against the Huskers, and he'll miss the rest of the season, but the Wildcats clearly go as Daniel Thomas goes. Quarterback Carson Coffman has made plays late in games when the team has needed him, and Kansas State has won three games this year that were still in doubt in the final minutes, but Coffman was briefly benched for backup Collin Klein against Nebraska. Coach Bill Snyder says Coffman is still his starter, but the senior will have to be better to avoid being benched for good as he was last year for the more mobile Klein.

Offensive MVP: RB Daniel Thomas – There might not be a player more important to his team's success in the Big 12, with apologies to Baylor's Robert Griffin and Nebraska's Taylor Martinez. Thomas has 127 carries so far this year and is third in the Big 12 with 691 yards rushing. Without Thomas, the Kansas State offense would be without a reliable playmaker. Twice already this season, the Wildcats have jumped on Thomas' back and he's carried them to a win. Against UCLA, he ran for a career-high 234 yards on 28 carries and added 181 more on 34 carries against Iowa State. Both were narrow wins by Thomas and Co. Without him, both are losses and the Wildcats would be headed into the thick of conference play at 2-3.

Defensive MVP: DE Brandon Harold – Harold is Kansas State's most talented defensive player, and as a sophomore, he's been among its most productive, too. He's made 27 tackles, including six for loss and a pair of sacks. He's also broken up a pair of passes and forced two fumbles. He'll keep getting better fast, and could blossom into one of the conference's best defensive linemen.

Mailbag: On Nebraska and T-Magic

October, 8, 2010
10/08/10
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Before we begin, a quick thought -- and maybe this changes in the next week -- but it definitely looks like Nebraska is poised to embarrass Texas a week from Saturday. And if last night's hurry-up offense with a four-touchdown lead is any indication, the Longhorns shouldn't expect much mercy.

Patrick in St. Louis, Mo., writes: As a Mizzou alumn and follower, it hurts me to say this, but after watching last nights game, I would have to think you need to include Nebraska's #3 in the Heisman discussion. Not looking forward to seeing him on Halloween against the Tigers.

David Ubben: Completely agree, and if you're a fan of a team with Nebraska on its schedule, last night had to be really unnerving. He's going to be every bit the game-changer he looked last night plenty throughout his career.


Josh in N.C. asks: Any chance the K State game has a deleterious effect on Taylor Martinez? Now he'll have more intense media scrutiny and people expecting him to run 80 yards at a time, will he try to do too much next week?

DU: No, and that's one of the more interesting things about Taylor Martinez. (Also, quick note: deleterious is officially the biggest five-dollar-word that's ever appeared in my mailbag. And it was spelled correctly! Go figure.) We hear all the time about how players and coaches never read anything people like me write, but more often than not, they're full of it. Trust me on this. They don't read everything, but most read at least something or enough to get a sense of what people are saying about them. I'm not saying that's bad; it's human nature. I don't know Martinez, just like we -- the public -- don't actually know anything about most athletes, so I won't venture a guess as to how much he reads about himself. But I know this for certain: He doesn't like talking to the media, which is fine. He turned down a postgame interview on ESPN last night. He doesn't do interviews with local media during the week, electing to talk only after games. I asked a member of the Nebraska media about it last night, and he told me it was 100 percent Martinez's decision. Maybe that changes in the future, but offensive coordinator Shawn Watson was 100 percent on the money when he talked about it last night. "He just wants to be left alone to play. And that's a good thing because it's a throwback attitude. He just wants to play. Give me the ball."

Sounds about right to me. Martinez is strikingly confident in person and that shows up on the field. He thinks he can make every big play on the field. Part of that is because he's a freshman playing college football for the first time. The other reason is because he can. Maybe not every time, but last night was not the last time he's going to wow everyone. He's already trying to make plenty of big plays. Watson chalks it up to his confidence. Sometimes that's a bad thing, like against South Dakota State. But he'll learn. And it's going to be fun to watch.


Kyle in Osage City, Kan., asks: Any word on how severe the Brodrick Smith injury is?

DU: They weren't sure after last night, but Bill Snyder said he expected to be without him for some time. It looked pretty bad. That's a huge loss for an already struggling Kansas State passing game. He was their leading receiver coming into last night's game. Time for Aubrey Quarles, Tramaine Thompson and Chris Harper to get it done.


Joshua in Kalamazoo, Mich., asks: Hey David,I may have missed the proper explanation for this since I watched the game in a sports bar in Michigan, but that Nebraska fan running onto the field and being tackled by the KSU mascot seemed staged, and thusly in poor taste. Staged because there would be no way a mascot would have an open hit on someone like that without at least one security person within camera shot and I have never known a Nebraska fan to rush the field in that manner. If staged than in poor taste because first; the whole Ohio (Solich) v OSU thing and what bad press that got for the University of Ohio, second it paints Nebraska fans in a poor light, and third c'mon, really. If there was explanation when this was shown during game coverage I would love to be enlightened. But also I would love to know your thoughts on this, was this just in good fun, or one last shot from a school feeling shunned.Thanks, your insight would be much appreciated, Joshua

DU: Well, my first piece of advice would be to lighten up. When I first saw it, I thought it was live, but when the mascot got a free shot at him and security was nowhere to be found, it was pretty clear that the skit was staged. The point of the whole thing was to get the crowd fired up. Mission accomplished. I thought it was somewhat funny, slightly chuckle-worthy and the fans loved it. Find me someone who doesn't love mascot violence of any kind. I watched that Brutus vs. Rufus fight at Ohio State like 15 times on YouTube and couldn't stop laughing. Don't even get me started on that Oregon Duck and Houston Cougar fight from a few years back. We all know "The Greatest Fans In College Football" have to "protect their brand," but nobody watched that game and thought, "Oh man, Nebraska fans. What terrible people!" Harmless.


Derek in Nebraska asks: How does Nebraska barely pass at all and they probably attempted less than 75 passes this whole season how can they do it with just the run and wouldnt teams catch on or something

DU: And they should pass because...? Martinez isn't a great passer just yet, but he's average -- at worst. He's looked pretty good on intermediate routes, even if he's a little inconsistent, but he's far beyond functional and he's going to get better fast. The reason Nebraska's barely passed is because no one's made them. Maybe someone will, but I doubt we'll see him toss it around more than 25 times in a game this year. They're better off just forcing the run and waiting for a big play to break than trying to take shots downfield. Martinez is most effective as a runner, but as it stands -- and I looked down the list -- I'd take him over four teams' quarterbacks in the Big 12 solely as a passer. I'll leave it to you to figure out exactly who they are. It's pretty obvious at this point he's surpassed every other quarterback in the conference as a runner, with apologies to Robert Griffin, who is a much better passer at this point in his career.


Ed Miller in Chicago asks: Who wins in a 100m dash, Denard Robinson or Taylor Martinez?

DU: Taylor Martinez. Who loses? Every linebacker in the Big Ten. I honestly feel bad for those guys in the future.

What to watch in the Big 12: Week 6

October, 7, 2010
10/07/10
10:15
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Here's 10 things I'll be keeping an eye on during six Big 12 games this weekend. What do you want to see?

1. T-Magic battling turnovers. Taylor Martinez was mistake-prone against South Dakota State, but he'll have to play well to beat Kansas State. A second game with multiple interceptions could mean a loss for the Huskers, and the same goes for any fumbles on downfield runs or in the backfield, whether they come on mishandled snaps or sacks.

2. Play-action could mean big plays. The headline-grabbing matchup in Kansas State's game against Nebraska is obviously Daniel Thomas vs. the Husker defense, but with so much attention up front, expect plenty of one-on-one matchups downfield. If Carson Coffman puts the ball on the money and receivers like Aubrey Quarles and Brodrick Smith can make plays in big moments, it might mean an upset.

3. Back to life, back to reality. Jerrod Johnson's turnover troubles have been well-documented this week, but if he can't fix them by Saturday, the Aggies will get rolled by No. 10 Arkansas. He has 10 turnovers in his past two games after throwing just eight interceptions all of last year and 10 as a freshman.

4. Getting a few whacks on Mallett. Texas A&M harassed Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden and laid plenty of big shots on him in the first half, all while corralling running back Kendall Hunter. They did neither in the second half. The Aggies will have to be in Ryan Mallett's face for both halves to pull the upset of Arkansas.

5. Getting back to the SEC. Tommy Tuberville's defense gave up six touchdowns and 251 yards on the ground to Iowa State last week. That's not exactly what fans had in mind when they brought one of the SEC's best defensive coaches to Lubbock, even if this is only Year 1. Now would be a good time for the 0-2 Red Raiders to right the defensive mistakes.

6. The road is unkind to the Buffs. Colorado, which has lost its past 12 road games, will try to snatch one against No. 24 Missouri. This is the same team which lost 52-7 to unranked Cal earlier this season. Can it prove it's any better? Even a close loss would be progress after 2008's 58-0 loss to the Tigers.

7. No big game this week...just take care of business. There's no reason Oklahoma State should lose or even be close to losing to Louisiana-Lafayette. But this is college football, and sometimes you never know. It's a Friday game and it's on the road against the Ragin' Cajuns. Weird things happen. Do the Cowboys give anyone a reason to believe they aren't the Big 12's third-best team? When it comes to perception, the only place for Oklahoma State to go in a game like this is down.

8. Carryover from last week in Ames? Iowa State and its fans are riding high from last week's 52-38 win over Texas Tech, but will that mean anything on Saturday? Utah looks like the better team, but how much better? An upset is within the realm of possibility and the quickest way to a win is running the ball well and taking care of it -- two things the Cyclones did well against the Red Raiders. Iowa State had 251 rushing yards and no turnovers, while forcing three from Texas Tech.

9. Time for Blaine to sling it? By his standards Blaine Gabbert has been pretty quiet so far this year, with just one 300-yard game and one game with more than one touchdown pass. Defenses have been trying to limit his effectiveness, which has meant big holes for the Tigers running game. Is it time for his first big game of the season? Colorado has the Big 12's second-best rush defense and ninth-best pass defense.

10. These aren't your average Bears. The last time Baylor played an offense anywhere near as talented as Texas Tech, it gave up 45 points to TCU. Other than that game, it has limited Kansas, Rice, Buffalo and Sam Houston State to just two touchdowns. Shutting down -- or at least limiting -- an offense like Texas Tech's would be a nice next step to proving the new Baylor defense is for real.

Coffman responds with big play

September, 18, 2010
9/18/10
2:51
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Kansas State quarterback Carson Coffman gave Iowa State its biggest play of the game, an interception returned 69 yards by A.J. Klein for a touchdown.

Now, in the fourth quarter, Coffman made the biggest play of the game for the Wildcats to set up Daniel Thomas' touchdown, which gave the Wildcats a 24-20 lead with just under seven minutes to play.

Coffman hit one of his new receivers, Minnesota transfer Brodrick Smith, for a 47-yard gain down to the Iowa State 13-yard line. That's a good sign for Coffman's mental resolve after Klein's interception served as one of six lead changes in the game.

Thomas finished off the drive with five consecutive runs, scoring from 2 yards out to take the lead. He now has 178 yards on 32 carries. Depending on how Kendall Hunter of Oklahoma State plays later tonight, that might be good enough to take the conference lead.
If you haven't noticed just yet, Friday's college football content at ESPN.com is all about the quarterbacks. We've ranked the conference's top 5 individual quarterbacks, but now it's time to take a broader look at who's in good shape behind center and who's in trouble across the conference.

The discrepancy between the South's QBs and the North's is somewhat jarring, especially when you see it on paper (bandwidth?) like this. Only one North team made the top six, and the bottom five teams are all from the North.

Five schools (four in the North) still have their starters up in the air, and that makes this a little tricky, but here's how I'd rank them:

[+] EnlargeJerrod Johnson
Brett Davis/US PresswireJerrod Johnson is not only the best quarterback in the conference, he's also the best player.
1. Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M: The Aggies boast the preseason player of the year at quarterback and the man at the top of our Big 12 player list from earlier this summer. I also got a few e-mail requests from some Aggies fans to stress -- once again -- that it's juh-RAHD, not Jared from Subway. Word has apparently not reached every corner of Big 12 country just yet. It might if the Aggies can win more than six games like they did in 2009. But Johnson broke out in a big way last season, throwing for 3,579 yards, 30 touchdowns and just six interceptions while also running for 506 yards and eight touchdowns.

2. Robert Griffin, Baylor: Trust in Griffin's knee lands the Bears here, significantly higher than they're used to considering the strong quarterback tradition across the Big 12 for the past decade. But Griffin will still have to regain his status as the conference's most electrifying player on a reconstructed knee after missing the final nine games of the previous season with a torn ACL. Baylor also has a nice situation at backup quarterback because of the injury with sophomore Nick Florence, who threw for 427 yards in Baylor's lone conference win -- at Missouri -- last season.

3. Blaine Gabbert, Missouri: Gabbert has a claim as the conference's best quarterback, and he'll try to snatch it as a junior after playing much of his sophomore season with a bum ankle, courtesy of a soggy Ndamukong Suh sack. Despite being hobbled for most of conference play, he still racked up 3,593 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. If he stays healthy, he might get a chance to showcase his underrated wheels, too. Freshman James Franklin is impressing in camp and hanging on to his job as Gabbert's backup over Jimmy Costello, Ashton Glaser and little brother Tyler Gabbert.

4. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones should benefit from his first full spring and preseason camp taking the first-team reps, but he'll need a second reliable target opposite Ryan Broyles to emerge if he wants to improve on his 26 touchdowns and 3,198 yards as a redshirt freshman. Jones also needs to limit his turnovers after throwing a league-high 14 interceptions in 2009, but it's worth noting that seven of those came away from Owen Field against top-tier defenses in Texas and Nebraska. He didn't play a good defense in Norman, but he threw 18 touchdowns to just four interceptions and helped the Sooners stretch their home streak to 30 games. Backup Drew Allen is untested and inexperienced, but has potential and wouldn't inspire panic if Jones finds injury in 2010.

5. Steven Sheffield/Taylor Potts, Texas Tech: No team has two quarterbacks with as much skill and experience as Texas Tech, but unlike receivers or running backs, the Red Raiders can't play both of them. Regardless of who wins the competition in Lubbock, Texas Tech will be in great shape with Potts or Sheffield. You heard a few hundred words on the details of this race earlier this morning.

6. Garrett Gilbert, Texas: This may look silly in November, but it's tough to put Gilbert on top of anyone else on this list who has already proven themselves. Clearly, the potential is there, and he's inspired a lot of confidence from his coach and team, but making good on that potential will mean finding a solid target to replace the only player he's ever thrown a real touchdown to: Jordan Shipley. If Gilbert goes down, Texas would have to rely on a pair of true freshmen: Connor Wood or Case McCoy, Colt's little brother.

7. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: This won't be the last time you hear about the Cowboys 26-year-old former minor leaguer. Just make good decisions, make easy throws to open receivers who make plays with the ball and he should put up big numbers in new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen's version of the Air Raid. Oklahoma State got to see Houston's offense in person last season and wanted it for themselves. Now they've got the man who coordinated the best offense in college football a year ago and an unquestioned, mature starter to run it. If he's injured, the Cowboys would have to rely on one of two freshmen, Clint Chelf or most likely Johnny Deaton, to run the offense.

8. Austen Arnaud, Iowa State: Coach Paul Rhoads says no player on his team has improved from Year 1 to Year 2 more than Arnaud, but he'll need to prove it on the field to move up this list. He's probably likely to improve on his 2,015 yards passing to go with 15 touchdowns, but he's right behind Jones in the interception column, with 13. That number has to shrink for the Cyclones to get back to a bowl game. Talented sophomore Jerome "JT" Tiller led the Cyclones to their marquee win over Nebraska and should take the reins next year. The future looks bright in Ames.

9. Tyler Hansen, Colorado: Hansen not emerging from preseason camp as the starter would be shocking, and he'll get a lot more help this year with a beefed-up receiving corps that's among the conference's most underrated. Newcomers Paul Richardson, Travon Patterson and preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Toney Clemons will join the reliable Scotty McKnight. If Hansen goes down, at least they'll have an experienced vet behind him in Cody Hawkins. Freshman Nick Hirschman looked good in the spring and provides some hope for the position in the future.

10. Zac Lee, Nebraska: A two-quarterback system is never ideal, but it might work for the Huskers. Lee is the best passer of the group competing for the starting job, but using the athletic Taylor Martinez or Cody Green in spot duty, similar to last year, could very well happen. But Bo Pelini would much prefer if one player -- most likely Lee, in my opinion -- would emerge and improve on his play from 2009, when he threw for 2,143 yards, 14 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

11. Kale Pick, Kansas: Pick is untested, and so are Jordan Webb and junior college transfer Quinn Mecham. Pick, however, seems like the favorite to win the job. The Jayhawks need a spark on offense, and Pick could provide it. He'll have some nice receivers to throw to in sophomore Bradley McDougald, senior Johnathan Wilson and tight end Tim Biere. Former cornerback Daymond Patterson looks ready for a good year in the slot.

12. Carson Coffman, Kansas State: Coffman needs to improve from his play last year that cost him his job early last season. Beating out Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur won't be easy -- and the competition between the three is still pretty tight -- but Coffman's experience gives him a slight edge. Whoever wins the race will lean on the league's leading rusher, Daniel Thomas, and a revamped receiving corps with transfers Brodrick Smith from Minnesota and Chris Harper from Oregon. The Wildcats hope the duo will add the spark that was missing from the team's offense in 2009.

Fresh Faces: Kansas State

July, 22, 2010
7/22/10
10:45
AM ET
Here's three Wildcats with relatively low profiles around the conference who you'll be hearing from in 2010.

Chris Harper, WR

You've heard a bit about Harper on the blog before, but he figures to be part of an all-new lineup at receiver for Kansas State, alongside Aubrey Quarles, who sat out the 2009 season, and fellow transfer Brodrick Smith, who racked up 12 catches for four touchdowns in the spring game. Smith came from Minnesota, but Harper, who came to Manhattan as a quarterback, came from Oregon. He's got speed and size at 6-foot-1 and 234 pounds, and if he can adjust to the position change, he'll be able to use both. Harper chose to make the switch to receiver near the beginning of spring practice, giving way to Collin Klein, Carson Coffman and Sammuel Lamur at quarterback, and early reviews were positive.

Braden Wilson, FB

Wilson may never get the press he deserves, even after the season begins. He'll be the primary lead blocker as a sophomore, first-year starter for the conference's best running back, and any lack of recognition won't be because of a lack of effort on the part of coach Bill Snyder. Earlier this spring, Snyder couldn't stop complimenting his 6-foot-3, 244-pound trailblazer. "He may make a mistake, but if he does, he'll make it at 120 miles an hour," he said.

Alex Hrebec, LB

Hrebec should be one of the leaders of a young linebacking corps that loses two seniors. A sturdy 5-foot-11, 251-pound junior, Hrebec could be among the tackling leaders for the Wildcats this season. Hrebec made just 32 tackles in 2009, but 21 of them came in games against Tennessee Tech and Iowa State, becoming the first Kansas State player to record double-digit tackle totals in consecutive games since 2006. As a redshirt freshman in 2008, he started half the Wildcats games and made 68 tackles. His off-the-field efforts were also recently recognized, landing him on the nomination list for the AFCA Good Works Team.

More Fresh Faces:

Kansas State spring wrap

May, 6, 2010
5/06/10
9:30
AM ET
2009 overall record: 6-6

2009 conference record: 4-4

Returning starters: Offense (7), Defense (6) P/K (2)

Top returners: RB Daniel Thomas, DB Emmanuel Lamur, DB Tysyn Hartman, DB Troy Butler, DT Prizzell Brown

Key losses: WR Brandon Banks, QB Grant Gregory, WR Lamark Brown, DB Joshua Moore, TE Jaron Mastrud, OT Nick Stringer, DT Daniel Calvin, DT Jeffrey Fitzgerald


2009 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Daniel Thomas* (1,265 yards)

Passing: Grant Gregory (1,096 yards)

Receiving: Brandon Banks (705 yards)

Tackles: Emmanuel Lamur* (68)

Sacks: Jeffrey Fitzgerald (7)

Interceptions: Tysyn Hartman* (5)

Three spring answers

1. Coffman states his case…loudly. The spring began with a three-man quarterback race, and ended with Carson Coffman throwing seven touchdown passes in the spring game. Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur will be back to compete in the fall, but Coffman’s performance, combined with his experience last season, will likely be too much for either to overcome.

2. Chris Harper won’t be taking snaps. Oregon transfer Chris Harper figured to be a factor in the quarterback race, but he elected to move to receiver and stayed there throughout the spring. His impressive size and athleticism will be used on the sidelines, rather than in the backfield.

3. Butler shining in the spring. Juco transfer Troy Butler won a starting safety job last season, but made just 46 tackles and was held without an interception. In the spring game, he picked off two passes and made eight tackles. They came against the second-team, but he’s getting to the ball, and that’s something he didn’t do often last year.

Three fall questions

1. How will the new-look receivers fit in? Kansas State has plenty of size at receiver, something it didn’t have last season. But it’s possible that all three of the Wildcats top receivers won’t have caught a pass since the 2008 season. Aubrey Quarles sat out the 2009 season, and transfers Brodrick Smith and Chris Harper could also make big impacts this season.

2. Are the Wildcats deep enough? For all the celebration around Coffman’s performance, his team’s 79-0 win in the spring game over the second-teamers suggests a wide gap in talent between only the first and second teams. If Kansas State suffers a couple injuries in the right place, could the season fall well short of expectations?

3. Playmakers wanted. Daniel Thomas is a reliable option at running back, but can the Wildcats find a way to give the offense some additional firepower? The Wildcats were short on big plays in 2010; Thomas broke runs of 25 yards or longer in just two plays. If the receivers can prove they’re deep threats, and Coffman can get them the ball, it’ll be easier for both them and Thomas to operate and produce big plays.

Big 12 spring game recap: Kansas State

April, 27, 2010
4/27/10
9:00
AM ET
What happened:

  • Carson Coffman threw seven touchdowns and the Purple team won, 79-0.
  • Worth noting, the Purple team technically won 41-38 after its 38-0 halftime lead was reversed.
  • 16,326 fans attended.
What we learned:

  • My goodness, Carson Coffman. As you read last week, he was trying to solidify his spot as the starter after he lost both the fans' confidence and his own with a poor performance last season. After a spring capped by his seven-touchdown, 440-yard performance on 38 of 51 passing, consider the confidence restored. "I wanted to go out today and take hold of the quarterback spot," Coffman said after the game. “I think I did that.” No kidding. He threw two touchdowns, both in the opening game, all last season. On Saturday, he threw five in the first half.
  • Collin Klein's absence only strengthened Coffman's statement. Coffman's main competition for the job, Klein sat with a minor injury. Undisclosed, of course. Unlike Bill Snyder's.
  • Can't really overreact to Coffman's performance, which came against a second-team defense, but last season Coffman started against UMass and Louisiana-Lafayette, and didn't exactly light up the scoreboard. The defense also couldn't blitz, but a performance like that against anyone is a good sign. Consider Coffman officially the heavy favorite entering fall. “He commanded the respect of all of us as a leader,” senior center Wade Weibert said. “You could tell it in the huddle. He called plays so confidently that we just looked at each other and said, ‘All right, let’s go.’”
  • Kansas State might have one of the most-improved units in the conference at wide receiver. Brandon Banks was a fantastic kick returner, but an underwhelming receiver in 2009 after notching 1,000 receiving yards in 2008. The inconsistent quarterback play didn't help, but there's only so much a 5-foot-7 guy can do when his quarterback can't get him the ball. Now, presumably Coffman has Aubrey Quarles returning from a redshirt year and two transfers in Brodrick Smith (6-foot-2) from Minnesota and Chris Harper (6-foot-3) from Oregon. Smith caught 12 passes for 167 yards, and Quarles caught nine passes for 105 yards and a score. One of Smith's touchdowns was on a fade route, which could be a nice option in the red zone for the Wildcats, one that Banks couldn't provide.
  • Quietly solid day for Daniel Thomas against the second-teamers: 16 carries, 118 yards. Hard to earn much ink in a spring game when everyone knows what you can do and your quarterback does what Coffman did.
  • 79-0? Not a good sign for the depth on either side for the Wildcats.
  • Not much to say about the defense other than a shutout against anyone is a good sign. Safety Troy Butler had a game-high eight tackles and two interceptions.
They said it:

“He threw it half a hundred times, and for the most part he played well.”

-- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, steering clear of hyperbole while evaluating Carson Coffman's performance.

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