Kansas State Wildcats
Head Coach: Bill Snyder
2016 Record: 9-4 overall, 6-3 Big 12
2016 Bowl Result: Beat Texas A&M 33-28 in the Texas Bowl
2017 Returning Starters: 7 offense, 6 defense
Odds to Win 2018 College Football Championship Game: 120/1
Odds to Win 2017 Big 12 Championship: +1025
Odds to reach 2017 Big 12 Championship game: +285
Regular Season Wins: over 8 -145 / under 8 +125
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Last year, Kansas State entered the season with low expectations but had a a successful 9-4 season. The Wildcats won their last four games including a win over former Big 12 Rival Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl.
Legendary coach Bill Snyder battled throat cancer and considered retiring but he is back for at least one more season. He gets 13 starters back in 2017 and Kansas State looks to shock Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Big 12. Here is a look at Kansas State on offense, defense, and special teams, plus a look at the schedule and outlook.
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Last year, Kansas State averaged 389 yards per game on offense including 232 rushing yards and 32 points per game. Offensive coordinator Dana Dimel gets 7 starters back.
Quarterback Jesse Ertz is back. He completed 57.6% of his passes for 1,755 yards with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also led the Wildcats in rushing with 183 carries for 1,012 yards and 12 touchdowns. He suffered a shoulder injury midway through last season and had surgery during the offseason. It is a concern but he is expected to be healthy by the start of the season. Sophomore Alex Delton is listed as the back-up.
While running back Charles Jones has graduated, the Wildcats will be fine at running back. Jones rushed for 596 yards and 2 touchdowns, and had 13 catches for 130 yards. Justin Silmon had 86 carries for 464 yards and 3 touchdowns. Alex Barnes had 56 carries for 442 yards and 6 touchdowns. Barnes and Silmon will likely split most of the carries that don’t go to Ertz. Dalvin Warmack will also get some carries. Fullback Winston Dimel had 30 carries for 92 yards but he had 12 rushing touchdowns and 6 catches.
Receiver Byron Pringle had 39 catches for 631 yards and 4 touchdowns and is back. Dominique Heath is also back after making 45 catches for 438 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receiver Deante Burton is now with the Atlanta Falcons after making 29 catches for 404 yards and a touchdown. Isaiah Zuber had 24 catches for 192 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cal transfer Carlos Strickland will also get some catches. Dayton Valentine is the tight end.
A young offensive line overachieved last year and now with four starters back it could rival Oklahoma for the best line in the Big 12. Center Reid Navjar and right tackle Dalton Risner garnered all-Big 12 honors last year. Scott Frantz is the left tackle but he only a sophomore. Abdul Beecham and Tyler Mitchell are the guards.
The defense allowed 389 yards per game last year including the #12 ranked rush defense at 116 yards per game. The pass defense was among the worst in the country though allowing 273 yards per game, which isn’t good in the pass happy Big 12. Coordinator Tom Hayes get six starters back.
Defensive end Jordan Willis is now with the Cincinnati Bengals after making 17.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. Reggie Walker takes over as the lead pass rusher after making 39 tackles with 11.5 for loss and 6 sacks. Tanner Wood had 34 tackles and will start at the other end. Tackle Will Geary had 45 tackles including 7 for loss last year. Trey Dishon will start at the other tackle.
The Wildcats lose their top three linebackers, Elijah Lee, Charmeachealle Moore, Will Davis. Trent Tanking and JUCO transfer Da’Quan Patton have the inside track on the starting spots. However, Sam Sizelove, Elijah Sullivan and Jayd Kirby will all get plenty of playing time.
Cornerback D.J. Reed is back after making 75 tackles and 3 interceptions. Duke Shelley is the other cornerback after making 48 tackles and 3 interceptions last year. Safety Dante Barnett is now with the Denver Broncos. Safety Kendall Adams is back after making 62 tackles last year and two interceptions. Elijah Walker will be the nickel back.
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Kicker Matthew McCrane made 11/14 field goals last year but only made 1/4 kicks from beyond 40 yards. Punter Nick Walsh averaged almost 43 yards per punt and landed 16 inside the 20. Dominique Heath is the primary punt returner and returned one for a touchdown last year. Byron Pringle returns kicks and also took one to the house last year.
Outlook and Schedule
Kansas State hosts Central Arkansas and Charlotte before a potentially tricky game at Vanderbilt. The Wildcats open Big 12 play at home against Baylor before traveling to Texas. TCU and Oklahoma come to Manhattan next. Road trips to Kansas and Texas Tech are next. Kansas State hosts West Virginia, travels to Oklahoma State, and then hosts Iowa State to close out the season.
The schedule is favorable, and the offense should be more consistent. Still, I think Kansas State is a notch below Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Big 12. The Wildcats are in the second tier of Big 12 teams with Texas and West Virginia. I think the Wildcats win 9 games.
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