Bill Snyder will turn 77 years old during this season. If Kansas State repeats what it did last year — a 6-7 overall record and just 3-6 in the Big 12 — will this be his final campaign? The Wildcats started Conference play with six-straight losses before closing with three wins against weaker competition, and losing their bowl Game handily to a better Arkansas team. This team has plenty of work to do, but at the least will have more quarterbacks to work with.
After QB injuries more-or-less destroyed their 2015 season, it looks like KSU will have three different guys competing for the job this time around. Jesse Ertz already was voted captain, yet hasn’t taken a snap under center. He won the QB job last fall, but was injured before appearing. Joe Hubener wasn’t good when he took over, but he looked improved in the spring and entered his name in the battle again. The speedier Alex Delton also missed last season and he’ll be in the mix as well. While their quarterback isn’t decided, it looks like K State’s options are at least better.
Charles Jones (696 yards, 5 TDs) provides consistency in the backfield and he’ll be joined by Justin Silmon (355 yards). It wouldn’t be surprising if Dalvin WarMACk eventually saw more time as well at running back. Receiver is still a question for the Wildcats, but all of the early talk has been surrounding junior college transfer Byron Pringle, who many believe can step right into that No. 1 role for this offense, something they lacked a season ago. If that’s the case, it would help Deante Burton (510 yards, 4 TDs) and Dominique Heath (313 yards, 3 TDs) mightily.
The problem for the offense is on the line where the Wildcats have the least experienced group in the conference. They only return two guys with previous starts, but have the pieces to rebuild the line for the most part. Sophomore center Dalton Risney has to become the anchor for this group.
The good news for Kansas State is that it returns most of its defensive prowess, starting with end Jordan Willis and tackle Will Geary on the line. The linebacking unit is even better and may be the best in the Conference with seniors Will Davis and Charmeachealle Moore leading the way. The secondary should be just fine as well if they can remain healthy. Safety Dante Barnett returns after missing 2015 due to injury and he could easily be the most important guy of the group.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, their Schedule is quite unkind, opening the season at Stanford, and then opening Big 12 play with road Games at West Virginia and Oklahoma in the first month. To not repeat last season’s mark, they’ll need to beat Texas Tech or Texas at home in October. But to make things even harder, they also have to travel to Baylor and TCU in two of their final three Games. To reach a bowl again, it’s almost a must that K State win its home Games against the aforementioned teams as well as OK State.
Snyder’s teams always seem to surpass expectations and this could be one of those years if they figure out what to do at quarterback. With more consistent play at QB and a better defense, the Wildcats should be feared much more this season.
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2016 Kansas State Wildcats Football Schedule
Sept. 2 at Stanford
Sept. 17 vs. Florida Atlantic
Sept. 24 vs. Missouri State
Oct. 1 at West Virginia
Oct. 8 vs. Texas Tech
Oct. 15 at Oklahoma
Oct. 22 vs. Texas
Oct. 29 at Iowa State
Nov. 5 vs. Oklahoma State
Nov. 19 at Baylor
Nov. 26 vs. Kansas
Dec. 3 at TCU