July 30, 2007

The key Cat

This was a no-brainer. The No. 1 spot on the list of the 25 most important players to Kansas State's success in 2007 simply had to belong to sophomore quarterback Josh Freeman. When Freeman was good last season, the Wildcats won. When the true freshman struggled with turnovers and consistency, K-State lost. Don't be surprised if a similar pattern holds true this season.

It must be noted that a number of players will contribute to Freeman's success or struggles. The offensive line (which featured all five projected starters on this list) must protect the 6-foot-6 signal caller and give him time to throw. A group of receivers with plenty of fresh faces will have to gel at an accelerated rate, and the tight ends must remain a big part of the offense. It would also serve as a huge help to find a consistent running game to take pressure off Freeman.

In the end, however, the Grandivew, Mo., native simply must make plays and avoid costly mistakes. Freeman's 2006 numbers have been analyzed time and time again, but they are too striking to be ignored. In the four Big 12 Conference games K-State won, Freeman threw six touchdown passes against two interceptions. He was named the league's Offensive Player of the Week in back-to-back wins over Colorado and Texas, and it was Freeman who spearheaded a late rally and scored the winning touchdown against Oklahoma State.

In the four conference games K-State lost and the Texas Bowl defeat at the hands of Rutgers, Freeman's numbers were woeful. He failed to throw a single touchdown pass in those five games while tossing 12 interceptions.

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