Kansas State Preview

Saturday night will be senior night for the Kansas State Wildcats, and oh, what a ride it has been. For the seniors who came in from high school four or five years ago, or even three years ago for a few of the three-year junior college players, the tide has turned from a poorly coached squad from Ron Prince to a well-honed team under current leader Bill Snyder.

The two-year transfers have been a part of a quick turnaround that will likely result in a bowl game for the Wildcats (5-3, 2-3) for the first time since 2006 and just the second time since 2003.

Offensively, Kansas State isn't hard to figure out. Texas coach Mack Brown quipped that running back Daniel Thomas would get the ball 30 times in the running game and another 10 in the passing game. Why? Because he's really good. One of the top backs in the Big 12, Thomas thrives on finishing off runs and getting yards after initial contact. Thomas's 196 carries rank first in the conference this year, and he's second in rushing yardage per game, averaging 124.5 per contest. But he's more than just a volume runner, averaging 5.1 yards per carry and scoring 10 touchdowns. His backup, fellow senior William Powell, is quick and capable. Fullback Braden Wilson is one of the conference's top lead blockers.

With Thomas getting the ball in a number of ways, including as a Wildcat quarterback, the duties for senior quarterback Carson Coffman include making the easy throws and not turning the ball over. Coffman's 8-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio isn't great, but he's completing 66.3 percent of his throws.

Because of Coffman's limitations, the Wildcat receivers are typically used to either catch short routes like slants or bubble screens or the occasional double move to try and catch defenses asleep. At 234 pounds, Chris Harper is the best size-speed combination and can cause some matchup problems. Tramaine Thompson is quick and shifty in the open field. And senior Aubrey Quarles is the possession receiver. Tight end Travis Tannahill can also factor into the passing game.

The offensive line is big, without a single player under 300 pounds. The strength is on the interior, where seniors Zach Kendall, Wade Weibert and Kenneth Mayfield team up to open interior holes for Thomas. At close to 350 pounds, Mayfield could be a pro prospect, while Weibert, at 6-foot-4 and 303 pounds is ideally sized for a college center.

Defensively, Kansas State has struggled, ranking 11th in total D and seventh in scoring defense. The Wildcats are typically fundamentally sound and make teams execute in the red zone, but still lack the speed and athleticism on that side of the ball.

A large part of that blame has to fall on the defensive line. The Wildcats are 10th in the Big 12 in sacks with 12 in eight games, and are allowing an astounding 5.7 yards per carry, along with 228.5 rushing yards per game. Both of those numbers are the worst in the conference. Defensive end Brandon Harold shows flashes of potential, while defensive tackle Prizell Brown can be disruptive at times. Harold has six tackles for loss, while Brown is tied for the team lead with three sacks.

At linebacker, Alex Hrebec is a tackling machine, averaging 8.8 stops per game. Jarell Childs brings athleticism to the position. But arguably the top player listed as a linebacker is tiny David Garrett (5-8 176, Jr.). Really an extra defensive back, Garrett leads the team in tackles for loss with 8.5 and sacks with three.

The defensive backs have been buoyed by the strong play of true freshman Ty Zimmerman, who had a nice game against Oklahoma State in run support. Tysyn Hartman is the leader of the group, while Stephen Harrison is its best cover guy.

Under Snyder, the Kansas State special teams have traditionally been strong, and this year is no exception. Powell is one of the nation's top kick returners, averaging 33.2 yards per return. Punter Ryan Doerr averages 42.2 yards per punt, a number that shouldn't be underestimated when punting into the swirling Manhattan winds. And kicker Josh Cherry has only gotten seven attempts, but he's knocked six through, including a 48-yarder. He has also aced all his extra point attempts. Long snapper Corey Adams is among the best in the league.


QB: 14 Carson Coffman (6-3 211, Sr.)

RB: 8 Daniel Thomas (6-2 228, Sr.)

:FB: 37 Braden Wilson (6-3 254, So.)

WR: 3 Chris Harper (6-1 232. So.)

WR: 86 Tramaine Thompson (5-7 164, rFr.)

WR: 89 Aubrey Quarles (5-11 200, Sr.)

TE: 80 Travis Tannahill (6-3 249, So.)

LT: 73 Manase Foketi (6-5 300, Jr.)

LG: 59 Zach Kendall (6-2 317, Sr.)

C: 74 Wade Weibert (6-4 303, Sr.)

RG: 67 Kenneth Mayfield (6-4 349, Sr.)

RT: 75 Clyde Aufner (6-5 300, Jr.); OR 70 Zach Hanson (6-8 305, Jr.)


DE: 91 Brandon Harold (6-5 258, So.)

DT: 46 Prizell Brown (6-2 284, Sr.)

DT: 94 Raphael Guidry (6-4 282, Jr.) OR 95 Ray Kibble (6-4 296, Jr.)

DE: 40 Antonio Felder (6-1 243, Sr.)

LB: 56 Alex Hrebec (5-11 247, Jr.)

LB: 26 Jarell Childs (6-1 225, So.); OR 53 Blake Slaughter (5-10 230, So.)

LB: 27 David Garrett (5-8 176, Jr.)

CB: 16 Terrance Sweeney (5-9 177, Sr.)

CB: 8 Stephen Harrison (5-11 180, Sr.)

FS: 12 Ty Zimmerman (6-1 203, Fr.)

S: 2 Tysyn Hartman (6-3 206, Jr.)


PK: 19 Josh Cherry (6-0 190, Sr.)

P: 9 Ryan Doerr (6-3 189, So.)

KO: 10 Anthony Cantele (5-10 186, So.); OR 19 Cherry

KR: 20 William Powell (5-9 207, Sr.); OR 89 Quarles

PR: 86 Thompson; OR 2 Hartman

LS: 42 Corey Adams (6-4 251, Sr.)

H: 9 Doerr

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