Friday, August 7, 2009

2009 Preview: Kansas State

The Bruins round out their non-conference schedule with a visit from the Kansas State Wildcats. Both teams are in rebuilding mode and the outcome of this game will be a key indicator of the progress of each program.

Bill Snyder returns to the University, and the coaching ranks, after retiring in 2005. He made some headlines for immediately trying to get the Wildcats out of their scheduled game with UCLA.


Like many teams in the Big-12, Kansas State was able to rack up a lot of yards and points on offense. They accomplished that with the help of quarterback Josh Freeman, who was a first round NFL draft pick.

His backup, Carson Coffman, takes over the reigns this season. He's a typical drop-back, pocket passer but he'll be asked to run some option this season. He hasn't seen any significant action in his 3 seasons at Kansas State and he could be rattled by a blitzing and aggressive UCLA defense. I expect Bullough to turn up the pressure early.

The offensive line loses 3 starters from last year's squad, but like UCLA, the Wildcats have some young talent that could push for playing time early. The battle between the Cat's O-line and the Bruins D-line will be the most interesting battle for the day.

The Cat's were prolific through the air last season and they return some very talented receivers. Senior Brandon Banks chalk up over 1000 yards last season will be a go-to target. He's joined by Lamark Brown, who played running back in 2008, but the 6'3" Brown is a natural receiver. I'm expecting Alteraun Verner and Aaron Hester to have their hands full.

Kansas State's offense, which ranked 19th nationally last season, will have their hands full with a tough UCLA defense. I don't expect the Bruins to dominate, but at the same time, the Cat's won't be scoring left-and-right either.


On the flip side of the ball, the Cats have a defense looking to rebound from a very poor 2008 campaign.

One bright spot was the play of freshman All American Brandon Harold. He racked up 10.5 tackles for loss from the defensive end position. Measuring 6'6" and 264 lb, this bohemith athlete will be a handful for whichever Bruin tackle has to take him on.

The rest of the line isn't that imposing and I'm sure Neuheisel will look to run right up the middle against this unit. The Cat's gave up 217 yards/game on the ground last year.

Corner Joshua Moore and Free Safety Tysyn Hartman both had strong seasons in 2008. Hartman moved to the defense from quarterback part way through the year, so he'll be much improved with a lot of additional practice at the position.

The rest of the secondary is up for grabs and Snyder may be forced to play some inexperienced freshman early. I'm thinking that Kevin Prince could find some success passing in this game. We could also see some of the incoming freshman skill players, like Pressley or Carroll, have a break out game.

The Bottom Line

This game will be decided either by UCLA's defense or K-State's offense. Both have some question marks entering the season but they also have some stars as well. Whoever wins the battle in the trenches will likely carry the day.

Even though Snyder has a ton of coaching experience, it will still be a rebuilding process for this team. They'll be learning a new offense, with a new QB, and on the road against their first real test of the season.

I like the Bruins in this game, but I think it could be very close.

Fun Fact

Bill Snyder is such an icon at Kansas State that the football stadium is named after him. Snyder's first coaching position was with the Trojans back in 1966. He's one of five coaches on UCLA's schedule this season (Snyder, Carroll, Sarkasian, Riley, Kiffin) who have coached at USC.

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