Now that David Ubben has provided us with a little insight into how the quarterback battle is stacking up (1. Klein 2. Lamur 3. Tuggle), perhaps it's time to take a look at who will be catching those passes.
I've seen some talk in places, including this blog, where people seem confident about this year's receiving corps. While it's certainly not so bad that Collin Klein needs to play wideout, as a certain precocious freshman QB wanted us to believe, I'm just not sure that it's going to be up to par. Obviously, experience is seriously lacking, as K-State brings back just 62 catches and 824 yards from last season. Even worse, no receiver on K-State's roster has ever had a 100-yard game.
Of course, at this point, the more optimistic among us will point out that Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson are ready to step into much larger roles after broken legs ended their seasons prematurely in 2010. I certainly hope that's the case, but I'm hesitant to believe they'll be immediately able to play at a high level in their first games after such serious injuries, and either way, they were never spectacular to begin with. Smith struggled to see the field at Minnesota, and Thompson had decent, but by no means eye-popping numbers in high school in Oklahoma.
Then there's Chris Harper, who is pretty good at jumping up to grab the football, and can occasionally run a little bit with it as well. It's not unreasonable to think that this former quarterback will be much better at the technical aspects this season, now that he's got more experience at the position. But his numbers remind us that he still has never caught more than four passes in a game.
It goes without saying that expecting Cole Bachamp or Sheldon Smith to play more than peripheral roles in the offense would be crazier than expecting Donald Trump to have a realistic shot at the presidency. Let me know if I'm missing any new recruits, as I'm admittedly not all that up-to-date on that front.
I guess what I'm getting at here is that while it would be unreasonable to expect any of these guys to become a Jordy Nelson, a Quincy Morgan, or even a Brandon Banks, I think the problem is that they'll have trouble even reaching the level of an Aaron Lockett or a James Terry.
In the Big 12(ish), when you don't have a single receiver that merits even Honorable Mention All-Conference consideration, it's going to come back to haunt you at some point. Just ask last season's K-State team.
Maybe I'm being too harsh on the wide receiving corps here, and more of the blame should go to Carson Coffman's awful throwing abilities or the offensive line's inability to give him time to throw. The unfortunate reality is that those things don't matter too much, because while the offensive line should be better, I'm afraid Coffman's accuracy was actually better than anyone on this year's roster.
That's a little depressing, but fortunately there are quite a few reasons to be hopeful. If you're really optimistic, you could point to the fact that Bill Snyder has consistently turned unheralded players into stars, although Thompson is really the only candidate at this point who hasn't already failed at least once to elevate himself at the college level. On the plus side, a lot of these guys do have speed, the most important of all unteachable skills.
The better news is that K-State threw the ball just 324 times last season (including sacks) and ran it 523 times, or almost 62% of the time (including QB scrambles). If Bryce Brown can live up to the hype, which is still very much in question, it's not unreasonable to think this year's team could actually be better running the ball, particularly compared to those inexplicable times when a slow and hesitant Carson Coffman was a serious contributor.
Just like with every other Bill Snyder team, it's no secret that these Wildcats will rely on the running game to open up the field for the quarterbacks and receivers. The only question, and my biggest concern, is just how much opening up the receivers will need to be successful.