#23 Kansas State Football 2017 Preview


Kansas State Wildcats


Overall Rank: #23

#4 Big 12

Kansas State has been one of the most consistent programs in a major conference since Coach Bill Snyder returned in 2009. The Wildcats have won at least six games every year since then and this year should be no different. The Wildcats boasted a very young team in 2016, but still managed to go 6-3 in Big 12 play, with the three losses coming to the three teams above them in the standings. They also have some momentum heading into 2017 with a nice win over Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl.
2016 Record: 9-4, 6-3
2016 Bowl: Texas Bowl vs. Texas A&M (W 33-28)
Coach: Bill Snyder (202-105-1 at Kansas State, 202-105-1 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Dana Dimel
Defensive Coordinator: Tom Hayes
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Jesse Ertz, QB, 1,012 yards
Passing: Jesse Ertz, QB, 1,755 yards
Receiving: Bryon Pringle, WR, 631 yards
Tackles: D.J. Reed, CB, 75
Sacks: Reggie Walker, DE, 6.5
Interceptions: D.J. Reed, CB, 3; Duke Shelley, CB, 3
Other Key Returnees: RB Alex Barnes, FB Winston Dimel, RB Justin Silmon, WR Dominique Heath, OL Dalton Risner, S Kendall Adams, DT Will Geary
Key Losses: RB Charles Jones, WR Deante Burton, DE Jordan Willis, LB Elijah Lee, LB Charmeachealle Moore, DB Dante Barnett
Quarterback Jesse Ertz threw for 1,755 yards and ran for 1,012 more. In total he accounted for 19 touchdowns. Ertz returns his favorite receivers too. This will not be a typical Big 12 passing offense, but Ertz can throw the ball, especially when Dominique Heath and Byron Pringle are on the other end. Heath is the possession receiver on the team and caught 45 passes for 438 yards. Pringle is the big play threat who caught 39 passes for 631 yards and four scores. California transfer Carlos Strickland is a big 6-4 receiver who should work his way into the mix as well. Kansas State will keep the ball on the ground more often than not though. When it is not Ertz running the ball himself, the Wildcats have a trio of proven backs who are ready to go. Justin Silmon, Alex Barnes and Dalvin Warmack combined to rush for 1,117 yards and nine touchdowns last season. It is doubtful one of those backs will break the 1,000 yard plateau, but Kansas State can keep pounding the ball against Big 12 defenses that are much more acclimated to defending against the pass.
Replacing Jordan Willis and his 11.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles-for-loss will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Fortunately the rest of the starting defensive line returns intact. Reggie Walker, who tallied 6.5 sacks, will turn into the main pass rushing threat, but he could find life much more difficult without Willis on the other side of the line. Will Geary and Trey Dishon are back to anchor the middle of the line. Losing Willis is a hit to the defense, but perhaps not as big as losing the top three linebackers. Senior Trent Tanking will have to step into a leadership role in the middle of the unit, with Da’Quan Patton and Sam Sizelove likely filling in around him. Tanking tallied 19 tackles last season, while Sizelove added 7. There are options, but the complete lack of experience at linebacker could haunt this team for much of the season. Experience is not an issue in the secondary. D.J. Reed and Duke Shelley are both junior cornerbacks who started last season and intercepted three passes each. Kendall Adams will anchor the group of safeties that will get some help from the junior college ranks with the addition of Elijah Walker.
The Bottom Line:
This should be a big year for Kansas State. They have all the pieces to compete for a Big 12 title. But it may be difficult to increase on their 6-3 Big 12 record from a year ago. The Wildcats may be better, but that does not necessarily mean they can surpass teams like Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the conference pecking order. A trip to Texas on October 7th will be the first big conference test. Oklahoma comes to Manhattan a couple weeks later and the Wildcats travel to Oklahoma State on November 18th. Those will likely be the three big games for Kansas State. If they lose all three, it will be another solid, yet unspectacular season. If they can beat Texas early, the hopes for a Big 12 title and a New Year’s Six Bowl could last well into November.
Projected Bowl: Texas Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 231.8 (22nd in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 157.0 (116, 10)
Total Offense: 388.8 (83, 9)
Scoring Offense: 32.2 (45, 5)
Rushing Defense: 115.0 (11, 1)
Pass Defense: 272.7 (114, 9)
Total Defense: 387.7 (51, 1)
Scoring Defense: 22.3 (25, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.00 (4, 1)
Sacks: 2.31 (45, 6)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (52, 2)