What We Know
Returning Starters: Offense - 7, Defense - 1
Bill Snyder's Genius
Around the Big 12 Conference, there has not been coach who pulls more out of his players than Bill Snyder in recent years. The Kansas St. Wildcats were a virtual wildcard in 2011 as people across the nation began to realize they had the potential to control the clock with the style of offense Snyder implemented. However, no one could fathom that they would go 10-3 and Synder would garner coach of the year honors. As 2012 rolled around, the Wildcats were at it again. This time they found themselves in the driver seat of the Big 12 after an improbable win in Norman, Oklahoma against the Sooners as Snyder once again found himself being handed the coach of the year award. Snyder remains at the helm of this program and will continue playing for yardage. From the deep punts that pin opponents well in their own territory to controlling the tempo of the game, it will all be present in 2013 as KSU looks to continue its recent success.
Offensive Line Becomes the Overwhelming Strength
With so much being lost on the defensive side of the ball, it is no wonder that the offensive side of this will be the foreseeable strength of this squad. With seven returning starters in total, their offensive line from a season ago remains intact. This big front is able to have their way with a majority of the defensive lines in the conference and will certainly be looking to spring star running back, John Hubert, to a career type season. As the saying goes, games are won and lost in the trenches and Kansas St. has at least one of the equation in their favor.
A Ton of Incoming JUCO Talent
As mentioned above, KSU is losing all but a single piece of their defensive unit while looking to replace the entire defensive line. The most common remedy has come in the form of turning to the JUCO ranks. Looking to fill a few positions, the Wildcats have brought in nine midyear transfers including defensive end Devon Nash, linebacker Dakorey Johnson and cornerback Nate Jackson. All three of these players are expected to have an immediate impact on the game as Snyder has commented that the defense is ahead of the offense.
Can the Wildcats Bounce Back in 2013?
Kansas St. quickly ascended to the top of the charts with wins over a slew of ranked opponents. The opportunity to play for a national championship was there until the Wildcats met the Baylor Bears. The real issue here is the losses on defense. With the Big 12 being a pass first type league, defending the air raid will be key to the success of the season. KSU losses not only their defensive player of the year in linebacker Arthur Brown, but they are also forced to replace both cornerbacks. A repeat is not something unfathomable, but rather, there is much work to be done if the Wildcats hope to bounce back after being crowned Big 12 Champions. Will Kansas St. muster up an 8+ win season with the current circumstances?
Usage of a Duo of Quarterbacks?
Collin Klein was impressive with his drive and will to win. Now the reigns must be passed on to up and coming talent. Daniel Sams is a sophomore who will continue to compete for the job against a top JUCO transfer in Jake Waters. After the spring, head coach Bill Snyder has come out saying that the battle is too close at this point to declare a winner. That is not to say that each candidate does not have their strengths. Sams may very well be the fastest player on the field while Waters, who was wildly accurate on the JOCU circuit, will need to prove he can make the jump into the D-I ranks. Regardless, there is a likely possibility that Snyder could make the most of the talent he has and opts for the usage of both quarterbacks during games.
Can We Really Take Anything Away From the Spring?
The Kansas St. Wildcats under direction of Bill Snyder have gained a reputation during the spring in that virtually all things are an unknown to those on the outside of the program. Guarded under heavy lock and key is where the preliminary depth chart can be found. No clues are left as to who will actually be named a starter until the fall begins. Yet, if spring game formats weren't confusing enough, KSU has one upped the field with their deceptiveness as ones compete against twos and the score is flipped at the half. Collin Klein had strong passing performances during spring games but once the season hit, it was his legs that carried the team. Confusion abounds but that is just the way Kansas St. wants it as the less learned, the better.
John Hubert sits atop my list with Tyler Lockett in a close second. Given the strength of the offensive line combined with the vision and speed of Hubert, make him extremely dangerous when he steps onto the field. On 189 carries, Hubert picked up 947 yards in the vaunted zone-read offense that is making a resurgence with several programs across the nation. Now, with Collin Klein gone, we can expect those numbers to go up as Hubert looks to break the 1000 yard mark for the first time of his collegiate career.