LOOKING FORWARD TO 2012

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Win No. 1 is in the books, but 11 rugged weeks still remain starting Saturday when the Miami Hurricanes visit Bill Snyder Family Stadium for an 11 a.m. kickoff. In looking toward a second straight possible 10-win season, here are some whys on how it could happen, but also some iffy areas.

5 AREAS WHERE THE ‘CATS ARE BIG 12 GOOD:

Collin Klein is not the blueprint of an NFL quarterback, but for what he does, he's as good as any other QB in the league. A dual-threat, tough-tough, heady guy, who plays turnover-free football and is a highly-respected leader.
Arthur Brown is on all the Watch Lists when it comes to a defensive talent with all the skills one would want in a linebacker. His motor is revved on every snap and has that ability to absolutely go sideline-to-sideline from his middle linebacker position.
Anthony Cantele has proven to be an on-target field goal kicker, and with Big 12 range, but this year will be called on more than ever to make a variety of specialty kicks as kickoffs will be made from the 35-yard-line. Look for Cantele to power it into the end zone, but also hang boots so they fall to earth inside the 10-yard-line.
Nigel Malone demonstrated early and often to be a playmaker from his cornerback position a year ago. He defended 17 passes, which included seven interceptions, plus recovered a fumble.
Chris Harper is bigger, stronger, and at 4.46 in the 40, is faster for his senior season. Plus, for the first time, he says he really understands the nuances of the wide receiver position after starting his career at Oregon as a quarterback.

5 AREAS/PLAYERS TO WATCH WITH CONCERN:

• Add the total starts of the five-man offensive line and one comes up with just 25 starts … and all of those are between sophomore center B.J. Finney (13) and senior left guard Nick Puetz (12). Expected to fill starting roles will be junior left tackle Cornelius Lucas, freshman right guard Cody Whitehair and freshman right tackle Boston Stiverson, who opened the season benched by an injury and is expected to miss multiple weeks. None have a start to their credit, or have played a meaningful Big 12 down of football.
Thomas Ferguson is figured to start at safety alongside Ty Zimmerman. Ferguson has career numbers of 33 games, but only 17 tackles in his first three seasons. Tabbed as a "hard hitter," Ferguson needs to become a play-maker.
• Can Allen "Bubba" Chapman replace David Garrett at a cornerback position opposite Nigel Malone? Chapman had a handful of starts in 2011 when K-State went with five defensive backs, but he wasn't a regular out on that island where it's six points when plays are not made.
• K-State is armed and ready with middle linebacker Arthur Brown and Tre Walker outside, but either Justin Tuggle or Jarell Childs must as an individual, or collectively, step up and fill the other outside position. If they can, that trio of ‘backers will rival most trios in the league.
• Vital is the play of the twosome of John Sua and Vai Lutui at defensive tackles. Lutui was a regular last year, but Sua appeared in just four games. Depth at the position is sparse, so that combo must step front and center.


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