Curtis Kitchen has followed the Big 12, Kansas State and national college basketball beat including K-State's run to the NCAA Tournament Elite 8 in 2010. You can currently follow his work at his blog: KitchenKC.com In the past, he also covered the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting KC) for Major League Soccer's mlsnet.com site as well as the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals for the other sports station in town. His freelance portfolio ranges media outlets and publications, including gopowercat.com (part of the Rivals network), collegehoopsnet.com and the Miami Herald.
With Miami troubles, K-State should win eight
by Curtis Kitchen,posted Aug 29 2011 9:47AM
We’re all familiar with the idea of addition by subtraction. Kansas State, for example, a few years ago subtracted Ron Prince and instantly re-added credibility.
This year, for much of the summer, K-State was pegged to be somewhere between around a six or seven win team. But now, the on-field futures of at least 12 Miami Hurricanes are in doubt, with an expectation that the school will determine them ineligible within the week – according to the Miami Herald.*
*Miami believes doing so may influence the NCAA to relent on potentially severe penalties coming as a result of the damning Yahoo! report release earlier this month; perhaps even getting the okay to reinstate the players before the season-opener with Maryland. Hey, optimism never hurts…at least until reality open-palms it across the mouth.
Hurricanes quarterback Jacory Harris is among the names of mostly starters that look to miss time before the K-State game. With all of that coming as first-year head coach Al Golden tries to get his program up and running, a game I once thought the Wildcats had an outside shot at winning is now one I expect a disciplined and experienced K-State team to win.
It would be an added win by Miami’s self-inflicted subtraction.
What that would do for K-State’s confidence level is hard to say, exactly, but it would be a welcome unknown as KSU would be 3-0 and entering a home game against Baylor.
I expect the offense is up to the challenge. K-State’s offense, with or without Bryce Brown and his on-going “adjustment” to Bill Snyder’s idea of football, is good enough to compete with any Big 12 defense. It’s good enough to win the conference. However, without improvement, serious improvement, from its defensive counterpart, none of that will matter.
I’ve bashed the defensive statistics into the ground in other blogs, so I won’t revisit them here. But, it is worrisome that a large part of the optimism that exists going into the 2011 season resides mostly with the addition of Arthur Brown at middle linebacker. He’s very good. He might even wind up being great. However, he’s not good enough to make up for a defensive line that couldn’t generate pressure, other linebackers that over-pursued or sometimes missed assignments, or injuries.
That all happened last year, as did Chris Cosh (if we can verbalize the unwanted effect that the defensive coordinator’s scheme had). So, the question is: considering that many of the same pieces, and the defensive coordinator, are back, will the addition of Brown offset those potential limiting factors?
Cosh seemed to think so at KSU Media Day a few weeks ago. `
He was noticeably excited at the thought have increased talent on the field; Brown especially, but also defensive end Meshak Williams, who flashed an ability to rush effectively from the outside during the spring game.
Williams’ attitude alone is a welcome breath of fresh air past the moody, on-and-off (but mostly off) Brandon Harold, who, like midnight memories in Aggieville, simply vanished this summer, literally.
Cosh may have been excited, too, at the thought that both of his safeties, Ty Zimmerman and Tysyn Hartman, are now back and healthy. Both are playmakers – especially Zimmerman.
The defensive line, if anything is bigger, which is a good place to start considering last year’s best lineman was converted tight-end Prizell Brown. In the ‘Cats’ base 4-3, the penciled starters, seniors Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry, are listed at 305 and 290 lbs., respectively.
In this conversation, size absolutely matters, but it won’t be enough on its own. KSU flat needs better production than it got from the frontline in 2010.
That still leaves the Cosh question. Having to stand up for himself last season after coat-tailing on Vic Koenning’s defensive coaching the year before, Cosh did not have a good season. The results were such that this year, Snyder again split the coordinating duties – giving Cosh run-game responsibilities and naming veteran assistant coach Tom Hayes as Defensive Passing Game Coordinator/Secondary coach.
Hays certainly has the bio to back up Snyder’s adding him to the staff, and this might very well be another positive for KSU in taking away some of Cosh’s coordinating responsibilities and letting him focus on shoring up a rush defense that ranked 119th last season.*
*Okay, okay. I said wasn’t going to go back and rehash stats, but c’mon…when you think back to Jim Leavitt, Phil Bennett, Bob Stoops, etc… - others who have led K-State’s defenses in the past – that ranking is enough to make a KSU fan’s skin crawl.
So, all of it said, where does it leave Kansas State? I think the ‘Cats are good enough to win five of their seven home games (losing to Oklahoma and Missouri) and three roadies (wins at Miami, Kansas and Texas). Obviously, that’s an eight-win season, and I don’t think anybody wearing purple would have a problem with that.