In just about 24 hours, the curtains open on season two of Snyder’s comeback. To me, this time is the best of any season — all the anticipation, all the potential, another chance to start fresh at 0-0.
Right now, there are no sobering stats to bog down expectations with reality. As such, I can see the Wildcats will go 9-3 this season. I’ll tell you why.
First of all, the culture of the program in general influenced me toward that prediction. The atmosphere of inclusion, of dedication, of fun … it’s infectious. The players love being a part of this team, and that makes everyone else want to be close to it also. An incredible home crowd has always aided the Wildcats, and this year the support will be as good as it has ever been.
The upperclassmen now have experience with head coach Bill Snyder. They know what to expect, and they know what his expectations are of them. Everyone is more familiar with the system, and that familiarity should provide for a tremendous improvement upon last year.
Speaking of experienced upperclassmen, the team has the blessing of four returning starters on the offensive line, including a center who is considered one of the best in the country at his position. This lineup sparks all sorts of exciting possibilities: more time for Carson Coffman to hand off or throw the football, more holes for Daniel Thomas to dart through, less pressure on the kickers and punters, you name it.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: The offensive linemen are the enablers of the offense. They might not get on the highlight reel, but no big plays happen unless they are doing their jobs, and doing them well.
On the defensive side, the Wildcats return last year’s leaders in both tackles (Emmanuel Lamur) and interceptions (Tysyn Hartman). The defense improved between 2008 and 2009, and I’m looking forward to the continuation of that upward trend this season. I know high-scoring shoot-outs entertain, but something in me really appreciates a hard-nosed defense holding a team to 7, 10 or 13 points in a game.
Looking beyond tomorrow, I really think K-State has a favorable schedule, despite the traditionally tough Big 12 teams. The Wildcats host Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas, and those will more than likely be their most formidable opponents.
All in all, this season holds oodles of promise. These days long-term commitments are hard to come by, but K-State is fortunate to have serious investors. Players, coaches and fans will tie their time and hearts to the Wildcats football team, as is the tradition in September. Investing is risky, but I think putting stock in the Wildcats is going to pay dividends.