MANHATTAN, KS - OCTOBER 1: Collin Klein #7 of the Kansas State Wildcats runs with the football around the defense of Elliot Coffey #4 of the Baylor Bears at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Manhattan, Kansas. The Wildcats won 36-35. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
It's Thursday, and T.B. still hasn't sent me a press pass or plane tickets, so it's safe to assume that once again I don't get to be the BOTC representative at Big 12 Media Days in Dallas. It would have been the perfect birthday present, too.
But just because I'm not going doesn't mean I don't have questions. Since I won't get the chance to ask them at the plush Westin Galleria Hotel, I'm putting my questions up here.
As a reminder, K-State's players joining Coach Snyder this year are Arthur Brown, Ty Zimmerman, Collin Klein, and Tre Walker. All of them are free to answer questions in the comments section, or even email me directly. Please be candid and avoid coachspeak or cliches.
Thanks, and now on to the questions. Just to be clear, I realize that some of these would never get an honest answer on the record, but that's why I'm asking them here.
Q: Who do you want to be the third linebacker?
It seems like the spot alongside Walker and Brown is destined to belong to either Jarell Childs or Justin Tuggle. We know Childs can be a bit inconsistent and sometimes leaves a little to be desired, while Tuggle is virtually a complete unknown since he was a quarterback the only time he stepped on the field in an official game.
I'd be quite interested to hear from the two linebackers and know if they like playing with one guy over the other. It's safe to say Snyder has one in mind as his starter right now, and just as safe to say we probably won't know who it is until the final week before the opener, at the earliest. We can't even get a clue from the Spring Game, since Childs didn't play.
Q: How much do you want to change the run/throw balance?
No matter how many times I see the stat showing that Collin Klein amassed 317 carries last season, I still shake my head in a mix of awe and disappointment every time. I don't think there's any doubt it began to wear on him a bit towards the end of the year, and something needs to change.
It would be really intriguing to truly know how much HBCK wants to run the ball and how much HCBS wants him to run it, and if those two numbers are close. As most of us have said all along, the ideal scenario is that Klein has improved a ton as a passer and we can open up the offense, but if he hasn't, how many risks are you willing to take when going to the second string is like jumping off a cliff where you can't see what's at the bottom?
Q: Why should we believe the defense is going to be better this season?
Sure, it's easy to look on paper and see all the experience coming back from a defense that looked good at times last year and believe things will be a lot better. But I want to hear it from the defenders themselves, and then of course see them prove it on the field.
I realize the offenses in the Big 12 have been pretty ridiculous in recent years, but K-State has given up an average of 389 yards per game and 5.6 yards per play since the 2003 defense left. I fondly remember a time when even the best numbers (340 ypg in '09 and 5.1 ypp in '05) would have been entirely acceptable.
I'm not asking for a return to the glory days overnight. Just some more steps in the right direction.
Q: Who do you feel most comfortable with as running back?
Logic tells us John Hubert would have the edge here, but I'd still like to hear a complete, honest answer from Klein on this one. I don't know enough about blocking to say who does the best job of protecting K-State's MVP when he's most vulnerable, so I'd love to hear him say who he feels most confident with when he drops back to throw it.
Q: Would you rather be playing Oregon than Missouri State in the season opener?
This one's obviously for the players, since Bill Snyder's answer is the furthest possible thing from a secret. You'd also have to give the players assurances that the coach would never, ever hear their answer, and even then they'd probably just say what he wants them to say. He is a wizard, after all.
Deep in their hearts of hearts, though, I'd like to think these guys would rather be facing the challenge of a top 10 team than Missouri State. That's an FCS team that went 2-9 last season, including a 56-7 loss at Oregon. The Bears haven't been better than a game over .500 in at least seven years.
Plus, under the old contract, this one would have been at Bill Snyder Stadium. The way I see it, if you'd rather crush a patsy then play a ranked team in front of your amped up home crowd to start the season, then your uniform should probably be crimson and blue.