Five Questions Heading into the Western Kentucky
Five Questions Heading into the Western Kentucky Game
By Sean Kelly
(1) Quarterback Quarterback and Quarterback
Can Meier get it done as the new QB? Can he pick up an offense scheme often described as complex?
It all starts and stops on offense with the man under center directing traffic, making his reads and then adjustments at the line of scrimmage and on the fly. Everyone knows that Ell Roberson is gone and opposing teams will look to test the leadership and play capabilities of the New QB early and often to start the season.
A war was waged in Fall Practice for the starting spot and Coach Snyder has announced Dylan Meier will be the starter Saturday night. Dylan, the ultra talented sophomore from Pittsburg Kansas played in 15 games last year- as the holder. It is at Quarterback that Dylan is still an untested commodity having only played in four games last year, mostly in mop up duty and when Ell was injured.
That said, Dylan was third in rushing TD's on the team last year and is capable of making big plays with both his feet and his arm. Dylan will need to be patient and let the offense come to him. He has the luxury of having Darren Sproles and a potent rushing attack and sometime this season, the speed of the game will slow down for him. The most important key for Dylan is for him to settle into the offense and get comfortable while building his confidence.
(2) Offensive Line
Can the Offensive Line keep Meier upright? Can they provide the Holes needed in the running game? Is there enough Depth?
The offensive line took some graduation hits this past season and is looking for some replacements. Heading into the game with Western Kentucky. The Cats looked to have settled in on their starters coming out of fall practices before the defections of Travis Triplett and Chris Boggas, both of whom were being counted on to supply heavy minutes, one as a starter and the other as a reserve. With the loss of depth and senior players like Triplett and Boggas -- the biggest question marks will be who will step up and how this the OL will operate as a functional unit.
The Cats will look to work some kinks out in the running game, protect the quarterback and gain experience. Practicing is one thing, playing another team is a whole different animal and no one will be able to guess the outcome until the pads are actually strapped on and the OL gets a taste of action.
With some new wide receivers set to start and a new quarterback at the helm, there will be a period of adjustment for the Wildcat Offense. Games are won and lost in the trenches and the left side of the OL will be manned by seniors, C- Mike Johnson, LG- Malcolm Woolridge and LT- Jon Doty . The right side of the line is filled out by RT- Jeromey Clary and RG- Michael Weiner and it will be very important that the seniors lead the way. Time playing together and repetition are the most important aspects for this unit. They will need to learn to play together and being able to play full out at full speed will help speed up the process. If Darren has any aspirations of a run at the Heisman, The offensive line must come together quickly as a unit and the Hilltops will give a very good look into where this unit is and what work needs be done.
(3) Darren Sproles and the Running Game
Can Darren Make a Run at the Heisman with an impressive 2004 debut? How will the running game look with new starters along the line?
Everyone knows who Darren Sproles is and what he is capable of on the field. Those who do not pay particular attention to him pay a heavy cost and quite frankly, Darren has already shown why he is considered the best Running Back in the nation. Teams this year will look to stop the running game first and force the Wildcat Offense to beat them through other means. That means Darren will be looking at 9 and sometimes 10 men fronts as teams sell out to stop the powerful running game and make the Cats one-dimensional. Darren can only do so much and other players will have to emerge to make teams pay for selling out to stop the run. He will also need to be spelled and both Anders and Clayton will have chances to prove the can supply quality carries.
Darren will get his carries and he will get his yards but how successful he can be this year depends a good deal on who emerges at the WR position and how Dylan does quarterbacking. Stacked fronts looking to stop the run are not new to Darren. Heading into this weekend's game, the real question mark will be the play of the rest of the Wildcat offense and how quickly Darren returns to the form that saw him join the Heisman race last year.
(4) Wide Receiver Corps
How will the passing game perform? Can they provide enough big plays to keep defenses from loading up to stop Darren? Gone is James Terry who the Cats counted on to set up big plays in the passing game and stretch the field vertically. Teams used their best Cornerback on Terry in an effort to shit him down and limit the passing attack. One of the bigger question marks is the play of Tony Madison and Yamon Figurs. Madison is loaded with talent, leading the Jayhawk conference in all-purpose yards with 153.8 ypg after posting 399 kick-return yards (league-leading 26.6 avg). Talent has never been the issue with Madison and he is running out of time to make his mark in Manhattan.
One of the surprises of Fall Practices has been the play of Yamon Figurs who has come in and set the camp afire. He is slated to start for the Cats having beaten out a more experienced Antonie Polite for the starting spot. Speed, speed and more speed on the table as Figurs is one of ---if not the fastest player in the Big 12 with a blazing 4.27 forty time. Davin Dennis will be the other starter at wide out and how the trio of Figurs, Madison and Polite perform early on will is a question mark heading into the game with WKU. The Cats must have a passing game to take pressure off the rushing attack and one of the above most step up to be the Go to guy. And do NOT forget Moreira….I think Jermaine very well could play himself into a starting position by mid season if he can stay healthy.
(5) Secondary Play
Can Cedrick Williams be the next Newman? Who will step up to replace half the secondary lost to graduation?
There has been some turnover in the secondary this past season as well with half of the starters lost to graduation. That means new faces, new players and depth questions. The secondary will have some new players looking to break into the rotation and who steps up to stop the passing attacks the Cats will face later in Big 12 conference play will be determined in games like this weekend's. Williams is returning after an impressive rookie year last year with the Cats. A senior this year, Cedrick has the talent to be the lockdown corner the coaching staff covets and that the defense is predicated upon. Can he be the next Newman?
Heading into this weekend's game- it is not imperative the Cats play lights out football in the secondary. It is imperative that the coaches get a good look at where each is at and if they are comfortable in the defensive scheme and understand their responsibilities. Not having to go against your own teammates and having a chance to hit opposing players will be a welcomed relief and once again, WKU is a great game to gain some insight into what the Cat Coaching staff has to work with this season.
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