Campus Corner

The Star's blog on college sports, featuring Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri

K-State Q&A: Top newcomers, late-arriving transfers, vanilla offenses and Stephen F. Austin

08/29/2014 12:08 PM

08/29/2014 12:09 PM

Major college sports took a break during the summer and so did K-State Q&A, but it’s back for the start of football season.

I hope you are as excited as I am.

Once again, K-State Q&A will be a Friday staple on the blog. So check back weekly for new editions. Just a reminder, you can submit questions for future K-State Q&As to me on Twitter or via email at krobinett@kcstar.com.

My prediction for Saturday: K-State 50, Stephen F. Austin 14. This is the year coach Bill Snyder gets back to a drama-free opener. Also, if you are curious about K-State’s running game heading into the opener (you should be) check out my latest story on the subject.

That feels like all the buildup we need for this week. Let’s get to your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

McDaniel is a good pick. People who know say the junior-college transfer had a strong presesaon camp and made Tyler Lockett work to get open in scrimmages. He can cover and he can hit. He’s listed as a starting cornerback on the depth chart, so he seems to be the front-runner for top newcomer.

I would also keep my eye on freshman free safety Kaleb Prewett. He will start the season as Dylan Schellenberg’s backup, but I expect the Blue Springs freshman to see playing time right away. The 6-foot-1, 204-pounder arrived at K-State ready to work. Like Ty Zimmerman before him, Prewett could end up playing four straight years in K-State’s secondary.

Snyder praised Prewett in his news conference this week, saying: “He is athletic. He runs well and he picks things up. He got invested in the system very quickly. Even though there is so much thrown at you he figured it out and put it all together. He has rapidly improved himself beyond being a first-term guy. He is playing like he has some experience.”

This is a tough one. A.J. Allen, Terrell Clinkscales, D’Vonta Derricott and Isaiah Riddle are all talented players capable of helping K-State this season, but none of them even cracked the depth chart. Take a look at defensive tackle, where Snyder listed two backups. That means Clinkscales, a four-star recruit that originally committed to Nebraska, is (at best) seventh in line for playing time among the roster’s interior defensive lineman. That’s a lot of ground to make up, especially for a player that showed up late to preseason camp. Derricott and Riddle are both backing up backups at linebacker. Same with Allen on the offensive line. It’s probably time to lower the expectations on that group. I expect most of them to play in some capacity this season, but it will be a while before any of them are permanent starters. K-State returned quality players, and they earned their starting spots in practice.

But if I had to pick one player to emerge from that group this season, I would go with Allen. Snyder said he wants to see more out of his offensive line, which is replacing two tackles. Once Allen learns the ins and outs of Charlie Dickey’s blocking scheme, the 6-foot-7, 315-pounder will be in a position to help.

K-State’s returning players were in Manhattan for spring practices, summer workouts and preseason camp. Clinkscales strolled into town after the start of preseason camp. He hasn’t caught up to the pack yet. Clinkscales is among the most talented defensive linemen on the team, but talent alone is rarely enough to get a player on the field at K-State. Experience and knowledge often mean more in Snyder’s system. The depth chart proves it. McDaniel is the only newcomer that won a starting spot, and he was with K-State during the spring.

Stephen F. Austin threw for 4,668 yards last season, and the Lumberjacks return the majority of their receivers. So there is some concern that they will throw the ball effectively on Saturday. They will be a good test for K-State’s secondary, but I don’t think fans need to be overly concerned. If the Lumberjacks score early and then have success running the ball with Gus Johnson, who rushed for 1,061 yards last season, that could make playing catchup difficult. But I don’t see that happening. They are breaking in a new coach (Clint Conque) and a new quarterback (Conque’s son, Zach). Their will be some growing pains. Also, Stephen F. Austin was atrocious on defense last season, allowing 49.3 points and 527.8 yards per game. North Dakota State, this is not.

Snyder will have no choice but to use his best plays against Iowa State and Auburn. K-State fans may see a more diverse attack in the season’s first month than they normally do in half a season. But the difficult early schedule may put even more pressure on the Wildcats to stay “vanilla” against Stephen F. Austin. They don’t want to give anything away yet. I’m sure Snyder will try to beat the Lumberjacks with a simple approach. The next two games will be different.

From Rick, via email: What’s happened to Kyle Klein this year? Didn’t see him on the depth chart and wondering where he is.

Look for Klein to help out on special teams and possibly spread formations on Saturday. He is likely a small step behind the six receivers listed on the depth chart. I was a little surprised to see Kody Cook, a former quarterback, beat Klein for a backup spot during preseason camp, but Collin’s little brother has experience and should continue to help K-State in some capacity.

To reach Kellis Robinett, send email to krobinett@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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