Campus Corner

Answers to your K-State football questions, including thoughts on the defense, Ertz

K-State linebacker Trent Tanking celebrates after a big play against Texas Tech.(October 8, 2016)
K-State linebacker Trent Tanking celebrates after a big play against Texas Tech.(October 8, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

As you may or may not have read Thursday, I am predicting the Kansas State football team to go 9-3 this season. Thought long and hard about bumping the record up to 10-2. Didn’t think all that much about lowering it to 8-4. You all have permission to throw it in my face when the Wildcats go undefeated.

Yesterday’s prediction didn’t offer any analysis with the game-by-game picks, so I provide them to you now.

Central Arkansas - W: Will Alex Delton or Skylar Thompson look better after coaches pull the starters?

Charlotte - W: This game probably deserves its morning kickoff.

At Vanderbilt - W: Not a gimme, by any means, but K-State should win. Also, Nashville should be fun.

Baylor - W: I like what Matt Rhule is doing in Waco, but it’s hard to see the Bears challenging the Wildcats in Manhattan, especially with Bill Snyder coming off a bye.

At Texas - L: The home team has won the last five in this series. For now, I give Texas a slight edge. This could be Tom Herman’s first big home game, and Texas will have two extra days to prepare. If K-State enters at 4-0, it will probably be ranked in the top 15. Here’s guessing the Longhorns are up for this game, even with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State next on the schedule.

TCU - W: Not sure what to expect from the Frogs yet, but K-State should win at home.

Oklahoma - L: This was a tough one for me. The Sooners have absolutely owned the Wildcats in Manhattan, winning their last six at Snyder Family Stadium. But that was with Bob Stoops calling the shots, not Lincoln Riley. Maybe this is the year K-State beats OU at home. I can see it happening. But I also think OU is the best team in the Big 12, at least on paper. Sooners get the edge.

At KU - W: Kansas beat Texas at home last year, but the Jayhawks aren’t beating Snyder this year.

At Texas Tech - W: K-State doesn’t like shootouts, but it has the offense to win one this year.

West Virginia - W: Hardest home game on the schedule. Like K-State, the Mountaineers play defense.

At Oklahoma State - L: Hardest game on the schedule. The Cowboys have a loaded roster, and winning in Stillwater is never easy.

Iowa State - W: Its’ weird. K-State and Iowa State is always a close game, but the Cyclones never win.

For what it’s worth, I envision K-State winning its bowl game and finishing 10-3.

Now, let’s move onto your questions. We’ve got a lot of great ones this week. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

Only if I know my prediction was dead on or horribly wrong.

When it comes to preseason predictions, like the one I made yesterday (before you get mad at me for picking K-State to go 9-3 instead of 10-2 please let me direct you to Chip Patterson of CBS Sports. He has the Wildcats finishing seventh ... in the Big 12), I try to go easy on myself. It’s basically a blind guess made before you get to see anyone play. You can’t account for injuries or scandals in August. Weird stuff happens during the season that changes everyone’s outlook. It’s impossible to predict things perfectly. I like to be somewhere in the ballpark of how things end up, but that’s all I really aim for.

I care much more about the weekly picks I make each Thursday leading up to the games. It bothers me when I get those wrong.

Luckily, that wasn’t an issue last year. Don’t know if I have mentioned this before (humble brag!) but I correctly picked all 13 of K-State’s games.

I like to remember the good predictions, because there are plenty of bad ones. Perhaps my worst prediction of all time: I picked K-State to beat Oklahoma in 2015. The Wildcats were 3-2, but coming off narrow losses to No. 20 Oklahoma State and No. 2 TCU. They really should have been 5-0, even with three injured quarterbacks. The Sooners had just lost to Texas and had travel issues getting to Manhattan, arriving after midnight for a morning kick. K-State beat OU a year prior in Norman. I liked the Wildcats’ chances. They lost 55-0. I still hang my head over that one.

TCU at home. I think that is a trap game.

The Wildcats host the Horned Frogs a week after playing at Texas (one of the most challenging games on the schedule) and a week before playing Oklahoma (perhaps the most challenging game on the schedule). Not sure what to expect from TCU at this point. The team returns a boatload of starters, but they didn’t do much of anything last year. They could be good enough to test K-State in Manhattan, though.

Oklahoma will have to win at Ohio State and at Baylor and then beat Texas in Dallas (as well as handle UTEP, Tulane and Iowa State) to enter the K-State game undefeated. That’s a lot to ask, but if the Sooners can beat the Buckeyes, it probably happens.

K-State’s biggest challenge will be at Texas. TCU at home could also be tricky. The Wildcats have better odds of starting 6-0, because they don’t play at Ohio State.

I say there’s a 20 percent chance they both start perfect. Would be a terrific (College Gameday) atmosphere if it happens.

I am conservatively predicting K-State to go 9-3 this season, so I don’t think a playoff berth is all that likely. But it’s not impossible.

If the Wildcats stay healthy and a few things bounce their way, I could easily see them going 10-2. Maybe even 11-1. I doubt they can crack the top four with multiple losses, so it would probably take an 11-1 record and then a revenge victory in the Big 12 championship game. That would probably be enough. Not easily done, but within the realm of possibility.

Ideally, yes. Realistically, I’m not so sure.

Jesse Ertz has suffered significant injuries in each of the past two seasons, and K-State will only be at its best this season if Ertz is at his best, which means staying healthy. So it would probably behoove the coaching staff to lighten his running workload, especially when they’ve got Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon (wrecking balls in shoulder pads) in the backfield. The more carries they get, the better.

Still, whenever I think about this topic I go back to an interview I had with Ertz at Big 12 Media Days. I asked if he expected to carry the ball as often as he did a year ago (183 attempts for 1,012 yards and 12 touchdowns) and his answer made it sound like that will be dictated by opposing defenses, not himself or his coaches.

“It is just kind of situational,” Ertz said. “If it’s third-and-2 and we have a loaded box and we can’t block everyone, then that’s the reason they are having the running back block. There is a method to the madness.”

K-State has always asked its quarterbacks to run, no matter how well they threw the ball or how often they got injured. I don’t see that changing, even though I think it would be a good idea. Maybe Ertz gets 150 carries, instead of 183, but I bet he still leads the team in rushing attempts.

Conventional wisdom points to D.J. Reed or Duke Shelley. Both of K-State’s corners are back after making a team-high three interceptions last season. But it’s not always easy for corners to get picks, at least compared to other defenders that can sit back and try to bait quarterbacks into an ill-advised pass. Reed will have a target on his back this season after successfully defending 16 throws last season. He will probably see fewer opportunities.

I’m thinking the interceptions leader will end up being Kendall Adams or Trent Tanking. Adams had two picks last season, and he seems poised for a better season. Four or five interceptions could be a possibility. And everyone I’ve talked to raves about Tanking’s his ability to hide in coverage. He may intercept more passes than your typical linebacker.

I do think Farmageddon should have a trophy, and I could totally get behind a purple-and-cardinal combine.

Another idea: Flannel shirts for the winning team. Championship T-shirts are a little played out.

The new ESPN3 deal seems great for everyone. Much more exposure. K-StateHD.TV becoming free for fans is also a nice touch.

Don’t care.

Sometime around noon on Tuesday.

I’m most interested to see the players Bill Snyder selects for No. 3 receiver, starting linebackers and starting safety. If there are any surprises to be found, they will probably come at receiver or linebacker.

I expect him to be on the sideline so he can interact with quarterbacks after each series like he did as a graduate assistant. He seems more valuable there than up in the press box with the offensive coordinator.

My first reaction was to say Missouri, but there are more Georgia players (8) on the roster than there are Missouri players (7). What do you know?

K-State will always look to Kansas and Texas more than any other states, but you’re right. Georgia has become a great recruiting area for the Wildcats, mostly because of WR coach Andre Coleman. Two Georgia recruits have already pledged to K-State’s 2018 class -- Jaquavius Lane and E.J. Thomas. Coleman deserves all the chicken and waffles he can eat on those recruiting trips.

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett

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