June 17, 2008

GPC's What to Look For: 2008

While Josh Freeman looks to build upon his record-breaking campaign, a lagging pass defense hopes to stiffen with the return of cornerback Josh Moore. As Kansas State looks to improve upon its 5-7 season, GoPowercat.com's D. Scott Fritchen takes a look at some specific challenges, question marks, or areas already on the verge of becoming better for the 2008 season in a hard-hitting, number-crunching 10-part series.



A look at individual aspects of the Wildcats' game that could help to determine their success in the 2008 season:

Area entering 2008


Quick glance at 2007


The skinny

More on this area:

Pass defense to take steps


136.6 - pass efficiency defense ranked 8th in the Big 12 and 89th nationally.

4-game nosedive yielded outrageous passing efficiency (184.2) with a 71.2-percent completion rate and 14 TDs and 1 INT. CB Joshua Moore and top league defensive newcomer SS Gary Chandler spearhead the cleanup effort.

June 19


Don't let up on the gas

5 - Times trailed at the half; K-State led after the 1st qtr 8 times in 2007.

In losses, opponents outscored K-State 89-40 in the 2nd quarter, making for an unhappy locker room at the half. K-State went 5-1 when leading at the half - its lone loss at Okla. State - but dropped all five when facing a halftime deficit.

June 24


Convert on 3rd down

40.2 - K-State ranked 10th in the Big 12 in going 72 for 179 on 3rd down conversions.

K-State actually improved from 34.7 percent in 2006 to 40.2 in 2007. One interesting note: After starting out the season 3 for 41 on 3rd-and-long (plus-9 yards), the offense showed improvement in going 8 for 22 on 3rd-and-long down the stretch.

June 26


Efficient passing

127.3 - Josh Freeman ranked 8th in the Big 12 and 60th nationally in passing efficiency.

Josh Freeman showed drastic improvement in going from 6 TDs and 15 INTs as a freshman to 18 TDs and 11 INTs as a sophomore. His completion percentage also showed vast improvement from 51.9 to 63.3. Look for these numbers to be even better in 2008.

July 1


Establish consistent playmakers

32.7 - Percentage of K-State's total offense attributed to WR Jordy Nelson in 2007, including 1,606 receiving yards.

Nelson is gone but the offense won't lack for excitement with a battalion of speedy pass-catchers joining explosive WR Deon Murphy and RB Leon Patton. Sure-handed Jeron Mastrud could have a big year at tight end.

July 3


Bullish on the ground

4.5 - Average yards per rushing attempt, 7th in the Big 12

The Wildcats ranked 9th in the league in average rushing yards (132.8) in 2007 but posed an efficient run attack at times when they put their minds to it. K-State won't be confused with Navy, but Patton should improve upon his numbers while walk-on Keithen Valentine and taller Daniel Thomas will get chances to prove themselves, too.

July 8


Stay special on punts

44.5 - Average yards by P Tim Reyer in 2007; 1st in the Big 12 and 9th nationally.

Reyer was brilliant. With his graduation, the Wildcats were without their punter of the future in the spring. K-State will look to junior college All-American George Pierson to solidify a crucial spot and one of the biggest question marks entering 2008.

July 10


Stop drives inside the 20

83.0 - Opponents' scoring percentage inside the red zone in 2007; 9th in the Big 12

Opponents scored against K-State on 39 of 47 trips inside the red zone with 29 TDs. Halting a few trips into the end zone could've drastically changed the landscape of the Wildcats season in 2007.

July 15


Strength in interior defensive line

141.6 - Opponents' average rushing yards; 7th in the Big 12

Hello, Calvin Thomas. Thomas' arrival couldn't have come at a better time and an improved Brandon Balkcom could bolster the tackle spots in a four-man set. Chidumbamu Abana must step up his game for a unit that was too porous up the middle.

July 17


Improve record

5-7 - Wildcats have a November to forget after starting season at 4-2.

Year 3 has a multitude of challenges with none bigger than the 3-game stretch of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri, the last two of which are on the road. Arguably the biggest wildcard in the Big 12 with the influx of new faces, the Wildcats cannot afford a loss to beat them twice, or three times, as in 2007.

July 22



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