By KELLIS ROBINETT
The Kansas City Star
It’s time for another K-State Mailbag, so let’s jump right into your questions.
Thanks, as always, for asking them.
@KellisRobinett for the blog…. Did the football signing day fill the needs from those who graduated ?
— Larry Ross (@BowTieMetal) February 7, 2014
Yes, for the most part. K-State’s main losses to graduation are Ty Zimmerman, Cornelius Lucas, Blake Slaughter, John Hubert, Tre Walker, Tramaine Thompson and Tavon Rooks. That means the Wildcats will need someone new to step up at safety, linebacker, running back, wide receiver and on the offensive line. Zimmerman, a four-year starter, will be hard to replace at safety. K-State didn’t sign any junior-college players at that position. Replacing Hubert will also be difficult. He dominated K-State’s backfield for three years, and he has no proven backup. Dalvin Warmack appears promising, but how often do true freshmen start under Bill Snyder? The Wildcats will likely turn to players already in the program to fill those spots.
K-State cleaned up at linebacker in its recruiting class, though. D’Vonta Derricott is one of the top juco linebackers in the nation, and Isaiah Riddle was a nice late get. Elijah Lee is a nice add as a freshman. A.J. Allen and Luke Hayes will likely compete for playing time on the offensive line as junior-college transfers next season. We will see what Andre Davis can do at receiver, but here’s guessing Deante Burton is the first guy in line to replace Thompson.
@KellisRobinett what areas would Bill have liked to fill in recruiting this year but couldn't?
— Rick Bailey (@RickBailey1959) February 7, 2014
Quarterback and safety appear to be the two biggest misses. The Wildcats didn’t sign a single quarterback in its 2014 recruiting class, and that could come back to hurt them in future years. They thought they had found a dual-threat player capable of replacing Jake Waters/Daniel Sams in Aaron Sharp, but he flipped to UCLA late in the process and they had no backup option. Safety is less of a concern, because Kaleb Prewett appears to have a high ceiling and Dylan Schellenberg played admirably filling in for Zimmerman at times last season. But some juco competition at that position would have been nice.
@KellisRobinett What's the recipe for a win against Texas on Saturday, and then KU on Monday?
— Pete Nicklin (@PeteyBoyNeutron) February 6, 2014
Against Texas, the most important thing will be playing with a sense of urgency for 40 minutes. K-State would be near the top of the Big 12 standings if it did that every game. But, for whatever reason, it has played sluggish in the first half of road games, which has led to losses. After that, making shots will take priority. K-State has made 19 of 66 (or 28 percent) of its three-pointers in its last four games. That’s not good enough. The Wildcats need to make shots and spread out the court to open things up inside. On defense, stopping Cameron Ridley and Isaiah Taylor will be key, but the Wildcats also need someone to slow Javan Felix. He destroyed K-State in Austin for 23 points.
Two days later against Kansas, making threes will once again be important. The Jayhawks don’t defend the perimeter all that well. Of course, preparation will be key. K-State has been at its best this season with lots of time to prepare for games and at its worst with no time to prepare. Case in point: When the Wildcats have a week off between games, they win by an average of nearly 25 points. When they had a day to prepare for Georgetown they lost 90-63. Bruce Weber said K-State didn’t dedicate a single second of practice this week to Kansas. It will be interesting to see how they handle the quick turnaround.