Ever since MU walked off the field in Manhattan to a "Beat KU" serenade from KSU fans, it's been hard to hate K-State football. But it's KSU week now, so I'll do my best!
As always, we start with the 2007 stats. KSU outscored opponents in 2007, 35.2-30.8. Of course, you take the 61-10 win over SMS out of the equation, and that drops to 32.8-32.7. Either way, the point differential was good even if the final record was not. The Wildcats averaged 133 rushing yards per game (4.5 per carry) and 285 passing yards per game (6.7 per pass). Decent numbers to be sure. The major problems were on the defensive side of the ball, where KSU fell apart over the last half of the season. In the end, they gave up 142 rushing yards per game (3.7 per carry) and 259 passing yards per game (7.5 per pass...too high). After a rather impressive performance at Auburn to start the season, things just got worse by the week, culminating in a disastrous trip to Lincoln, a senior day collapse against Mizzou, and a dud of a trip to Fresno State to end the season.
While the defense may take a step up with the presence of quite a bit of fresh, new blood, the offense will have to replace both its leading receiver (Jordy Nelson, 1606 receiving yards & 16 TDs) and leading rusher (James Johnson, 1106 rushing yards & 12 TDs), which may be a problem. The 2nd-leading players in receiving and rushing (Deon Murphy, 605 receiving yards; Leon Patton, 390 rushing yards) have a lot of slack to pick up.
Be sure to check out the kstatesports.com 2008 Spring Prospectus (pdf) to see where K-State stood in February...
...and the Spring Game recap to see where they stood in April. Granted, Josh Freeman only threw four passes, but...KSU QBs went a combined 10-for-28 for 73 yards. Eesh. The only offensive bright spot was walk-on JUCO transfer Keithen Valentine, who put up 104 yards on 15 carries. But the poor offensive numbers mean the defense is improved, right?
TB at BOTC wraps up KSU's trip to Media Day in KC. I'll say this--if there's a good reason to hate KSU right now, it emanates directly from the QB position. I realize all QBs are supposed to think they're the best and all, but...damn, Josh.
There's a snide comment to be made toward this "Prince's plan in place" headline (I mean...a 12-13 record, major coaching staff turnover, and a recruiting class made of 80% jucos is the 'plan'?), but it's an interesting article nonetheless, I think.
"We've had to rely on, for lack of a better word, some luck and some gimmicks once in awhile because things weren't necessarily in motion," Campbell said. "You can't expect everything to be the way you want it within one or two years."
Prince inherited the Fresno series from Bill Snyder, along with much of his roster. Now, only a few holdovers remain from the Snyder era. It hasn't always been painless — Prince endured criticism for replacing longtime equipment manager Shorty Kleinau, for instance — but the conversion is nearly complete.
"He's got his guys, whether it be coaches or equipment or anything like that," Carney said. "It's his system, and we're here to run it."
That, perhaps, is the most tangible benefit of Prince's added experience.
"He's got guys where he wants them," Campbell said. "He's got some of his guys in place. He's got his schemes. He's got the type of coaches he wants. I feel like he's in a better position that he has been for the last year or two."
Lose your star RB? No problem. Lose your punter? No problem. You quickly catch on to Prince's interview style. Everything's fine, fine indeed.
As mentioned many times on RMN, the story of KSU's offseason has really been about that 2008 recruiting class.
Thus, when the list is taken at face value, with such a heavy juco influx, Prince is perceived as a coach desperate to apply a quick fix. The notion is underscored by the four-game losing streak the Cats suffered at the end of last season to finish 5-7.
Prince insists, however, he has not panicked.
Junior college contributors, he said, are part of a longstanding heritage Kansas State embraces. The juco pool, he added, is an emerging market, which presents K-State a better opportunity to land a four-star prospect. A unique opportunity exists, he contends, for transfers who recognize K-State is willing to create more flexibility within its roster to account for more two-year players....
Obviously, there are potential problems to this approach.
Once the junior college carousel is put in place, it can spin out of control. Future classes will require heavy transfer numbers again in order to properly distribute depth, with fewer high school players coming through the ranks.
Former K-State coach Bill Snyder once confronted similar issues by leaning on juco talent, yet was masterful in how he assembled, and assimilated, transfers.
Now, Prince will try to do the same, only in a bigger way after signing 19 transfers. He'll attempt to make his model work within a division where the reigning champion, Missouri, signed absolutely no juco players to its 2008 class.
Finally, will Ron Prince get a raise? I do believe I'd wait until the end of the 2008 season to think about that one...
Oh, and let's be honest: I wouldn't be a rival fan if I didn't link to this video in a Links post.