Who Will Lead the Wildcat Offense?
Presently that question has not been substantiated with an answer but with all due respect to sabre rattling, throwing darts and mystic fortune tellers- the short answer puts Collin Klein at the helm. There are presently three candidates who will come out in fall practices and compete to be the starting quarterback but only one has 10 starts at KSU. Past that only one also has Head Coach Bill Snyder saying that they are sitting at number one for the starting spot and that is Collin Klein.
A Little Background History
Last year the K-State offense was predicated off the run first mentality and the run was used to set up the pass. The offense did not put the ball up a great deal last year and with the potent rushing attack that was a well-oiled machine rolling up yards on the ground with Daniel Thomas – it was not necessary. This brings us to this year. Daniel Thomas will be in Miami this year and if the NFL ever gets their act together, he will be rocking it on Sunday's.
Who Ground Support
This year could very well be a repeat on last year wherein Bryce Brown steps in for Thomas and the Wildcat offense does not miss a beat – but that is not very likely early on. As talented as Bryce is, he is still going to need time to be the man. On top of that there are three spots up for grabs on the offensive line and the passing game is going to have to develop. Where last year the ‘Cats could depend on just the rushing game if it absolutely needed to, Klein will HAVE to be able to develop the passing game more to win games this year. Klein was the second leading rusher for K-State last year where he rolled up 432 yards on the ground and 6 touchdowns. Last year, Klein and Thomas both had two games where they threw up 100 yards rushing – the running game worked.
Reasoning for A Stronger Passing Game
Klein played in 10 games last year and threw the ball 18 times, hooking up for completions on 11 of them for 138 yards and one touchdown. Yes you read that correctly, 138 yards passing. There are quarterbacks throughout the Big 12 who throw for over 138 yards in a game. This year you can expect for defenses to load up on the run in an effort to sell out to stop the run and make the Wildcat Offense one-dimensional. The thinking is that if opposing teams can take away the most lethal weapon in the offense, the ‘Cats become very predictable and it will force the ‘Cats to beat teams through the air- not Klein's strong suit.
On top of that, if teams can stop the Wildcat Rushing Attack, it will create off-schedule plays where there are third and long situations that are not high percentage downs. This leads to opportunistic defenses creating turnovers and forcing pressure that keep the Offense from every getting in a rhythm and field disadvantages.
Who Development of the Aerial Attack
This brings us to this year. Kansas State players have elected Collin as a Captain this year and they look to him to lead this team. We have already established that Klein must develop a passing game to take pressure off the offense and running game early on as well as keep defenses honest. Let's take a look at the Spring Game where Klein dropped back 37 times and threw for 358 yards and five touchdowns. THAT is the type of stat that other defenses are going to look at and have to respect. Confidence Booster? Collin showed early on where his game was heading right out of the gate during this game and put up impressive numbers. In doing so, he now has the confidence of both the coaches and his teammates that he is more than capable of moving the ball through the air.
At 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, Collin is a big guy with NFL size that can survey the field, make his reads and distribute the ball. The coaching staff already knows what he can do with his feet but they took this spring to see if they could further develop his passing game and adjusted the playbook to dial up more passing plays. That was not by accident nor was it by accident that they called so many pass plays.
This year Klein should have more options in the passing game as well with both Chris Harper and Brodrick Smith as healthy targets. The coaching staff has worked hard throughout all Spring Practice to develop the Aerial attack – evident by the 600 passing yards in the Spring Game. The wide-outs should more than help Klein and the Wildcat Offense and this year, with healthy options to throw to and an offense that seeks more balance and quick strike ability over the top – Klein could have great numbers.
What Is The End Result?
The end result is that Collin has made it a priority to work on his passing skills, the coaches have made it a priority to develop more of a passing attack into the offense and are going to call more passing plays and there are healthy targets at Wide Receiver. This Wildcat Offense could be more than well balanced if Bryce Brown is given some time to step into the starting role at running back. Moreover, the schedule early favors a ‘working out the kinks' where this offense can solidify the line and develop what their identity on Offense.
I can easily see an offense lead by Collin Klein that has him dropping back and buying time with his feet and moving the pocket. One luxury of a Coach Snyder Offense is that he tailors his offenses to his personnel and I can see packages for Klein with run-pass option plays. Because Klein has made it such an important priority this spring and summer, I look for improvement and think Wildcat Fans will see more aerial displays this season.