21 wins and two major bowl berths in as many seasons is cause for many to say that K-State is back on the college football map.
In 2013, the Cats must replace eight starters on defense and instill either Daniel Sams or Jake Waters as the new starting quarterback.
K-State coach Bill Snyder says his biggest concern though is making sure the current personnel doesn’t get complacent.
“I would always have a concern about young people and older people like myself and some of our coaches not taking anything for granted, based on whatever the program has done up to this point in time.” Snyder said. “Our program is no different than any other in that the dynamics of the program change year in and year out regardless of how many you do or do not have returning.”
All-Big 12 performers Arthur Brown, Meshak Williams, Adam Davis and Vai Lutui are gone from the K-State defense as they look to rebuild this season. Wildcat defensive cornerstones Ty Zimmerman and Tre Walker and their young group will have to deal with all the prolific offenses in the Big 12 as five teams in the league finished in the top 13 of the NCAA in total yardage per game.
“The game’s just getting faster and faster and faster,” Snyder said. “You have to be a well conditioned defensive football team in order to stay up or maintain the pace of the game, but there are so many other things that come into play as well. Part of it is just the ability to have the discipline to stay focused on what your assignment and alignment and recognizing tendencies, which happen to be in that short period of time that you have to get lined up.”
For K-State, losing personnel on defense can also have a big impact in other areas.
“So many of your defensive players play on special teams. We’ve been fortunate to have pretty good special teams units. They ranked us #1 at the end of the season in special teams last year, but an awful lot of the personnel on those units, those six units, were defensive players as well. So it will certainly alter things.”
On offense, more questions are answered as K-State returns all five starters on the offensive line, all-Big 12 running back John Hubert, and wideouts Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett.
However, the leadership of Collin Klein must still be replaced by Sams, a redshirt sophomore, Waters, a junior college transfer.
“We still don’t have a starting quarterback yet.” Snyder said. “In addition to Collin, even though we returned a substantial number of starters on offense, we still lost some extremely talented young guys, Chris Harper, a big play wide receiver, and Braden Wilson, we miss his toughness tremendously.”
The first time K-State fans will see the 2013 Wildcats is just over five weeks away on Friday, August 30th against defending FCS national champion North Dakota State. Kickoff will be at 7:30pm with the debut of the West Stadium Center at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.