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.
Curtis Kitchen: What to take from K-State's spring game
by Curtis Kitchen,posted May 1 2012 1:00PM
While the summer months can bring on unexpected issues, as things stand now, the Kansas State Wildcats football team appears to have things in order for its attempt at repeating a fantastic 2011 campaign.
On Monday, K-State officially announced its captains for the 2012 season — senior quarterback Collin Klein, senior linebacker Arthur Brown, sophomore center B.J. Finney and junior safety Ty Zimmerman. The four were selected among 30 players that received at least one vote and eight players that earned at least 20 votes.
Bottom line is this group knows who its leaders are. And having lost only eight starters from last year's 10-3 Cotton Bowl team, this team overall knows who and what it is.
Already appearing on several preseason Heisman watch lists, Klein will again direct the Wildcats offense that doesn't have any glaring weaknesses and should, in fact, be improved with additional depth on the offensive line (including freshmen Boston Stiverson and Cody Whitehair) and the return of Walter Camp All-American Tyler Lockett at wide receiver.
On defense, most of the starting defensive line from a year ago is gone, but it is replaced by just as capable and more athletic players who had substantial roles a year ago. Meshak Williams will be a fulltime starter at defensive end opposite Adam Davis. Vai Lutui will again anchor the middle from one defensive tackle position while John Sua, at this point, is slated to start at the other in KSU's 4-3 scheme. That all depends on whether any of the incoming defensive tackles (a couple of which are junior college transfers) are able to bump him from the first string once they arrive. If they do, that can only help as Sua appeared pretty sturdy in KSU's spring game last Saturday.
As for the spring game, there wasn't much information to be gleaned from the Collin Klein show other than it is imperative the defensive starters stay healthy. Yes, Klein and the KSU offense should be an above average unit next season. No, that doesn't mean it should have been as easy as it was for the offense to move the ball and score at will.
Klein's 47-of-56, 480 yards and 6 TD performance was fun to watch and fell in line with several recent KSU spring game fireworks shows (remember when Carson Coffman did the same a few years ago?). He called his own plays, and the line left him literally untouched (zero recorded sacks, which come when a defensive player touches the QB under KSU's spring rules).
"I thought I played pretty good," Klein said. "I think decision making was pretty good. I know when we get back and see the film there is probably a couple throws I would like to have back but that is just that process of trying to be the very, very best that I can be."
The senior's pass accuracy appeared improved, but while I would like to chalk it up to individual skill improvement, the level of play between purple first-teamers and white second-teamers was obvious. So, let's leave that on the table for now and revisit it in a few months.
- While Demarcus Robinson is behind John Hubert, Angelo Pease and Robert Rose at the running back spot right now, his length-of-the-field kickoff return against the purple team was eye-popping. Actually, his speed was. He destroyed everyone in a footrace and made it look easy. You'd like to think he could make his way up the RB depth chart, but if not, then you have the option of Tyler Lockett and Robinson on kickoff returns. Based on what we saw Saturday, that's almost not fair.
- Daniel Sams was a storyline all to himself last year. People raved about his pregame warmup tosses. He kept folks' attention on Twitter with comments about working hard and preparing himself. Well, while he wasn't bad on Saturday, the inexperience with a real Snyder workload was pretty clear. (Klein has been quoted as saying it is like trying to drink water from a fire hydrant.) Meanwhile, true freshman Tavarius Bender...man. The No. 1-rated recruit out of Nebraska arrived on campus this spring in order to get extra work in, and it is paying off. He is already slotted as the No. 2 QB behind Klein and showed some legitimate space between himself and Sams.
- I talked about the defensive line earlier, but it is worth mentioning again. True, the line fattened up on the second-team offensive line. However, Adam Davis and Meshak Williams on the ends are going to be above average. Lutui's continued development should be a huge boost as well. Find a solid fourth piece (either as an individual or on a rotation basis) at that other DT spot, and the D-line could be one of the best in the Big 12 next year.