In the 100 days leading up to the kickoff of the college football season on Saturday, Aug. 25, HERO Sports is ranking the top 100 teams in the FBS. Each day, starting May 17 and ending Aug. 24, a new team is revealed in the HERO Sports Top 100.
No. 21 Kansas State
Kansas State has two new coordinators and a new starting quarterback as they seek to win 10 games for the first time since 2012. They have one of the nation's best offensive lines, an all-conference-caliber running back and plenty of talent in the secondary.
2017 Record: 8-5 (5-4, Big 12)
Kansas State fell short of some preseason expectations (including mine; they were No. 22 in the HERO Sports Preseason Top 100), lost to what proved to be a bad Vanderbilt team, had their second losing streak of at least three games in the last three years and finished worse than third in the Big 12 for the third straight season.
They did, however, lose three games by seven or fewer points, including a double-overtime loss at Texas and near-upset of eventual CFP semifinalist Oklahoma, beat two of the Big 12's top four teams (Oklahoma State and Iowa State) and made an eighth straight bowl game.
Head Coach: Bill Snyder (27th Year, 210-110-1)
When your career record has a tie in it, you've been around a long time.
Snyder, in his 10th season of his second stint (73-42), has won at least eight games in six of his last seven seasons. Of Kansas State's 18 all-time seasons with at least eight wins, 16 have come with Snyder as head coach.
FB Winston Dimel, WR Byron Pringle, DE Tanner Wood, DT Will Geary, LB Jayd Kirby, LB Trent Tanking, CB D.J. Reed, P Nick Walsh, K Matthew McCrane
Byron Pringle was a surprising draft early entrant and was not selected, signing a UDFA deal with the Chiefs. He averaged a silly 24.1 yards per reception last year and 11.2 yards per punt return. Fullback Winston Dimel graduated and transferred to UTEP, where his father and longtime K-State assistant Dana Dimel was named head coach.
Defensively, they were hit hard at each level, losing run-stopping tackle Will Geary, their two leading tacklers in Jayd Kirby and Trent Tanking — Kirby also led the team in tackles for loss (11.5) and was second in sacks (four) — and All-Big 12 First-Team corner D.J. Reed.
Kicker Matthew McCrane hit 133 of 134 PATs and 57 of 66 field goals in his career, and four-year punter Nick Walsh left with a yards-per-punt average of 42.3
Returning Offensive Players
QB Skylar Thompson, QB Alex Delton, RB Alex Barnes, WR Dalton Schoen, WR Isaiah Zuber, OT Dalton Risner, OT Scott Frantz, G Tyler Mitchell, G Abdul Beecham, C Adam Holtorf
Receivers coach Andre Coleman was promoted to offensive coordinator (and retained his receivers coach title) following Dana Dimel's departure, and Collin Klein and Charlie Dickey were both promoted to co-coordinators. K-State's best recruiter, Coleman has assisted with play-calling in the past and it appears it will be a similar structure with Klein and Dickey aiding him this year.
While the system won't change much, the Wildcats will play faster than they did under Dimel. They ran just 63.8 plays per game last year, the ninth-fewest in the FBS.
“We are going to be a balanced offense, and we are going to try and play fast and have success,” junior quarterback Alex Delton said. “I am confident in Coach Coleman. I know he is confident and Coach Snyder is confident in him. I know we are headed on the right path. We have had a great start to spring ball.”
Delton is competing with sophomore Skylar Thompson for the starting job following the graduation of Jesse Ertz. Both played last year, both are the prototypical K-State dual-threat quarterback, and both could see the field.
"There are some ways they can probably incorporate us both,” Thompson said in July. “Preferably, I want the job outright for myself and [Delton] wants the same for him. But I think there are definitely ways we could incorporate both our skill sets and have fun with it.”
There are depth concerns at receiver, though leading receiver Isaiah Zuber and big-play man Dalton Schoen (20.4 yards per reception) return. And they have one of the country's most underrated running backs in Alex Barnes, a 6-foot-1, 225-pounder who isn't involved much in the passing game but is averaging 6.2 yards per tote in his career.
The offense is powered by a line that returns five starters, including All-American tackle Dalton Risner and one of my favorite big men to watch on film, junior guard Tyler Mitchell. Both players made the HERO Sports 100-Day Countdown.
"Dalton brings awesome energy for our offensive line," Delton said in April. "He is huge for leadership. He will get on me if I’m not doing something right . . . I am honestly excited to work with him. He is a heck of a player and heck of a person. He is going to prove a lot of people right because he is the real deal."
Returning Defensive Players
DE Reggie Walker, DT Trey Dishon, LB Justin Hughes, LB Elijah Sullivan, CB Duke Shelley, S Denzel Goolsby, S Kendall Adams
New coordinator Blake Seiler (and linebackers coach) — a former K-State defensive end who's been on the staff for nine years — and first-year co-coordinator Brian Norwood (and secondary coach) takes over a defense that was dominant vs. the run (3.5 yards per carry, including barely three yards per carry on the road), but struggled to generate pressure on the quarterback (3.9 percent sack rate).
Defensive end Reggie Walker (below) didn't have the 2017 production I was expecting (six tackles for loss, two sacks) and he won't have opposing lines focusing on Will Geary, but the powerful 6-foot-2, 246-pound Walker should fit well in a tweaked system that will bring more pressure on the early downs.
The new-look linebacker group will be led by Justin Hughes and Elijah Sullivan. At 6-foot-1, 219 pounds, Sullivan — who has some starting experience — looks more like a strong safety (and has some coverage skills) and will be fun to watch off the edge.
Despite losing the defense's best player, D.J. Reed, the secondary might be the strength of the unit. Kendall Adams, Denzel Goolsby and Duke Shelley combined for seven interceptions and 18 passes defended.
DT Jordan Mittie, LB Eric Gallon II, DB Kevion McGee
Jordan Mittie is a grad transfer from Texas State, where he was strong against the run and is capable of pressuring the pocket (eight tackles for loss, four sacks in two seasons). He is the son of K-State women's basketball coach Jeff Mittie.
Elsewhere, Eric Gallon II is a redshirt junior who transferred from Virginia and sat out last season, and Kevion McGee is yet another JUCO transfer defensive back capable of making a huge impact immediately.
For the third straight season — and fourth time in the last five years — Kansas State plays a Power Five team in non-conference. They host Mississippi State in Week 2, their third regular-season game vs. an SEC team in the last five years.
K-State finishes their home-and-home series against UTSA with a Week 3 home game vs. the Roadrunners.
|Saturday, Sept. 1||vs. South Dakota|
|Saturday, Sept. 8||vs. Mississippi State|
|Saturday, Sept. 15||vs. UTSA|
|Saturday, Sept. 22||at West Virginia|
|Saturday, Sept. 29||vs. Texas|
|Saturday, Oct. 6||at Baylor|
|Saturday, Oct. 13||vs. Oklahoma State|
|Saturday, Oct. 27||at Oklahoma|
|Saturday, Nov. 3||at TCU|
|Saturday, Nov. 10||vs. Kansas|
|Saturday, Nov. 17||vs. Texas Tech|
|Saturday, Nov. 24||at Iowa State|