These 'Cats Have to Keep Growing to Win

These 'Cats Have to Keep Growing to Win

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Four to five games into the 2010 season, Kansas State is one of just 18 teams in the nation as an undefeated NCAA Division I team. Does that make the Wildcats better than a year ago? Here's a look at some of the numbers four games into each season as the Wildcats await the arrival of the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Thursday night.

OK, let's let the numbers do the talking four games into this 2010 football year.

Question: At this point in the season, is this 2010 Kansas State football team better than the one of 2009?

The 4-0 record compared to last year's 2-2 mark indicates … yes. And, the collection of teams this year – UCLA, Missouri State, Iowa State and Central Florida – would be considered by most as a tougher slate than last year – UMass, Louisiana, UCLA and Tennessee Tech So, right off the bat, this 2010 team seems to be the better of the two.

Advantage: 2010 - Let's continue.

OFFENSE:
The 2010 offense is averaging 30.8 points with its 378 yards per game; the 2009 offense averaged 23.5 points and 375 yards. Advantage: 2010

QUARTERBACK:
Through four 2009 starts, Carson Coffman had completed 58 percent of his passes with two TDs and four interceptions; in 2010, Coffman has been true on 61 percent of his passes with five scores and two interceptions. Coffman's quarterback rating of 159.8 ranks second high in the Big 12. Advantage: 2010

DEFENSE:
The 2010 defense has allowed 19.8 points on 349 yards per game; in 2009, K-State allowed just 16.0 points on 241 yards per game. Advantage: 2009

TURNOVERS:
In 2010, K-State has forced seven turnovers – four interceptions and three fumble recoveries; last year the ‘Cats forced nine take-aways – four picks and five recoveries. Advantage: 2009

THOMAS FACTOR:
In 2009, Daniel Thomas was averaging 108 yards per game with four TDs; in 2010 his numbers are 157 yards (4th high in the nation) with six scores. Last year Thomas was averaging 4.8 yards per carry, compared to this year's 6.0. Advantage: 2010

BACKUP DASHER:
Keithen Valentine averaged 7.7 yards per carry for 42 yards per game as Thomas' backup in 2009; this year William Powell is only averaging 33 yards per game, but on 11.2 yards per carry. Advantage: Tossup

PASSING PRODUCTION:
In 2010, K-State has averaged 13.5 yards per reception with five scores; last year it was 12.1 yards per catch with three six-pointers. Advantage: 2010

PUNTING:
Ryan Doerr is averaging 42.5 yards this year to last year's average of 40.1 yards. Advantage: 2010

FIELD GOALS:
Josh Cherry was 1-of-6 at this stage in 2009 compared to 3-of-3 in 2010. Advantage: 2010

PENALTIES:
K-State has been flagged 19 times for 167 yards this year, to last year's 30 for 281 yards. Advantage: 2010

THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS:
This year it's 42 percent; last year it was 33 percent. Defensively, this year K-State is allowing conversions 38 percent of the time compared to last year's 32 percent. Advantage: Tossup

PUNT RETURNS:
Tysyn Hartman averaged 13.1 yards last year; Tramaine Thompson is averaging 6.1 this year. Advantage: 2009

KICKOFF RETURNS:
Brandon Banks averaged 39.4 yards last year with two scores; William Powell's average this season is 31.9 yards. Advantage: 2009

Plus, there is this factor over last year.

In 2010, Daniel Thomas has played himself into first-round NFL Draft status and Heisman Trophy conversation; Brandon has played himself into a conversation of "best d-ends" in the Big 12; and, Josh Cherry, including the closing month of last year, has established himself as one of the league's premier kickers.

Oh, and then there's the Bill Snyder factor. From year-one to year-two in 1989 and 1990, K-State went from one victory to five wins.

Upon his return to the Wildcat sideline last year, Snyder coached K-State to six wins and now is seemingly on track for a significant improvement in 2010. At least that's what the numbers are telling us four games into the season.

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