DEPTH CHART ANALYSIS: Week 1

OK, I felt the need to address the depth chart that was released yesterday in light of the fact that some of my POSITION PREVIEW predictions were blown up by it.

I'll probably turn this into a weekly feature where I analyze each week's depth chart and review who actually the started the previous game. In that way, it'll serve as a transition from the POSITION PREVIEWS to see how those position groups evolve through the season due to injury, position moves, performance, etc.

However, take this week's installment with a grain of salt — Bill Snyder's been known to list people as starters and backups who never see the field, while players who don't appear on the list see significant playing time.

Call it mind games or an ever-evolving roster, but it's best not to put too much stock into this little piece of paper (or PDF, as it were).

The main thought that occurred to me as I looked over the official depth chart was that in my 10 years of following K-State football in a hardcore sense, this was the least surprised I've ever been when looking at one of these.

Last year, we had surprise starters such as Kadero Terrell (who then broke his leg two days later) and Troy Butler, among other. There's none of that this year. I can't even say I'm that surprised by most of the backups. Probably the largest shocks were on special teams, if that tells you anything.

What does that mean? Well, I that it means we stayed largely injury-free in fall camp, which is terrific news after the M*A*S*H camp we had going on last season.

I also think Bill Snyder might be feeding us — and UCLA — a few pieces of information that don't necessarily reflect what he'll actually show Saturday, and he's been doing it for a while, so there's an internal consistency there.

 

Quarterbacks

Nothing surprising here. That "OR" between Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur will be decided on the field in front of 45,000+ K-State fans, and not a minute sooner, so I don't have too much to add here.

 

Running Backs

John Hubert's ascendancy to No. 2 seems to support the assertion that William Powell was a little banged up last month, although Snyder said yesterday that the two are basically in a dead heat. I still expect all three running backs to play significant minutes.

 

Fullbacks and Tight Ends

Pretty much as I described in the POSITION PREVIEWS. Snyder said Travis Tannahill and Andre McDonald are neck-and-neck, and each will see about 50 percent of the snaps. Plus, they'll be on the field together quite a bit.

 

Wide Receivers

Man, I nailed this position group. There were no surprises here, and the lineup's basically been the same since the spring game, which tells me we have a solid set of guys and they all know their roles. Now they just have to go out there and make it happen.

 

Offensive Line

As predicted, Manase Foketi beat out Zach Hanson at left tackle. Ethan Douglas' "OR" situation with Clyde Aufner confirms that Aufner has an injury of some kind, but probably not a season-ending one.

Although Douglas likely will start Saturday, I still wouldn't rule out Hanson shifting over to right tackle at some point. 6-8, 320 is a terrible thing to waste. As for backups at guard, Keenan Taylor was a little bit of a surprise, but word from Fan Appreciation Day was that he was taking reps there, so I can't say that it floors me.

 

Defensive Line

A line of Brandon Harold, Prizell Brown, Ray Kibble and Antonio Felder is exactly what we predicted.

Jordan Voelker and Payton Kirk at defensive tackle are not, however.

I addressed Kirk's situation, and what it means for Javonta Boyd, in today's POSITION PREVIEW.

Voelker was the biggest surprise to me — I hadn't even heard he was in the mix. But Kirk's move inside created a void behind Harold and Josh Berard is way too small to fill it on anything more than a third-down basis. Voelker will get his shot because Snyder rewards hard work, but I expect Clarence Bumpas to emerge here eventually.

 

Linebackers

Looks like I was wrong to doubt Jarell Childs. This looks exactly like what we saw in the spring game. But Blake Slaughter will continue to push him, no doubt.

But I really look stupid in projecting Kevin Rohleder as a starter. Instead, he's a senior in a battle for a backup spot with an undersized true freshman who wasn't here for spring practices. Thank you very much, Ron Prince.

Like I said before, Tre Walker's going to be a hell of a player, but if we have to throw him into the fire at 205 pounds, he'll get burned a few times. It'll pay off down the line, though.

 

Secondary

Everything's exactly as I predicted, except that I should have gone with my gut and left Ty Zimmerman as Tysyn Hartman's backup. All signs pointed to it, but I thought they still would want to redshirt the kid. Apparently not.

Even though Snyder mentioned Walker in his press conference as the only true freshman who will play Saturday, the way we play in the secondary necessitates constant substitution. Zimmerman will be pressed into action, mark my words.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited emergence of Dahrnaz Tigner will have to wait a while longer (just like History still Awaits in Lawrence). He's nowhere to be seen on the depth chart, and smelling more and more like a bust with every passing day.

 

Special Teams

I told you Anthony Cantele was pushing Josh Cherry. Cherry's still the starter for now, but he's one missed game-winner against UCLA from coughing up that job.

No surprises at long snapper or punter, but the list of returners probably was the biggest surprise in the whole thing.

I thought Tramaine Thompson would be on kickoff returns for sure, but he's not. Instead, they went with slightly less speed, but better size and hands, in Brodrick Smith, and even more speed (the most on the team) in Terrance Sweeney.

Punt returns are an even bigger shock. This was supposed to be the job for which Thompson was groomed to replace Brandon Banks, yet he's listed as Smith's backup. Part of me wonders if that isn't because they want to ease Thompson into the position, instead of throwing him into the fire against UCLA.

Starting Smith back there is like using Tysyn Hartman, as the coaches did last season when Banks started muffing punts. It gives them a sure set of hands and more size to take hits. But my gut still tells me we'll be chanting "Tra-maine Thomp-son" on punt returns before the season is over, folks.

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