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Interview with Saturday Sound Offs

Last week I was asked by Eric over at Saturday Sound Offs to participate in his Blogger Q&A.  I highly recommend you check it out, he runs an excellent general college football blog and has started some good discussion with his Q&As.  Basically, he sent me five questions and asked for an answer to each.  I probably exceeded the word limit he would have preferred, so we'll see if I get asked again.

Also, as a head's-up, check back tomorrow for the next installment of Matt's Big 12 Round Table.  And on Thursday, we'll have a post you won't want to miss regarding this weekend's game with Auburn.  Don't forget to check in with Jay at Track 'Em Tigers this week.  Also, I apologize for not getting any pictures from the Texans-Cowboys game last Saturday.  Stupid camera batteries...

Here is the text of the K-State Q&A.  The direct link is here.

1. Do you think the hype surrounding Josh Freeman is a little bit overrated? He only threw 6 touchdowns and 15 picks last year. Does he buck the trend in 2007?

I haven't seen anyone who buys his ink by the barrel pick Freeman as an all-conference quarterback yet, so on that basis I'll say he's not overrated. Some K-State fans may personally overrate him a little, just as some opposing fans may underrate him a little. As for Freeman's stats last year, they were significantly less than impressive, but he was a true freshman, and I think sometimes we forget how big of an adjustment it is from high school to the Big 12. I expect him to be better this year, in terms of at least evening out that TD:INT ratio and protecting the ball. He's shown us he has the physical ability to make all the throws (see the Texas game), now we just need to see that more consistently.

Put it this way...I don't think you can overrate Freeman's potential. This season will show us if you can overrate his ability to reach that potential.

2. Will there be any issues with transitioning to a 3-4 defensive alignment? Which player do you see excelling because of the switch-up?

Anytime a new system is installed there will be issues, and some of the players have said in their press conferences that they still aren't completely comfortable with it. But given their apparent dominance of the first-team offense in practice so far, it seems like they're flying around the field pretty well (although that could be chalked up to the offense's ineptitude...we'll see on 9/1). The easy pick of a player to excel is Ian Campbell, who will alternate between linebacker and defensive end. He'll be a threat blitzing from the LB position, and proved last year that offensive linemen aren't very good at blocking him even when he has less of a head start. I would say also to watch for Rob Jackson to have a good year at the other defensive end.

3. What's your confidence level in the WRs coming back for Kansas State?

Other than in Jordy Nelson, my confidence level isn't very high in the returning receivers. Nelson only had one touchdown catch last year, but he had eight the year before and battled a hamstring injury last year. If he's healthy this year, I have little doubt in his abilities. Daniel Gonzalez and Cedric Wilson return as well, but weren't overly impressive. I would guess we'll see significant contributions from one of the newcomers this year, those guys being Lamark Brown, Ernie Pierce and Deon Murphy. Losing tight end Rashaad Norwood hurt (he was the second-leading receiver last year), but we have three other experienced tight ends.

4. Are the Wildcats capable of pulling off another stunner this year like the one against Texas?

The games that give us a chance to pull a stunner this year are at Auburn, at Texas, and maybe at Nebraska and home to Missouri (depending on how NU and MU play this year). I would not go to Vegas betting on a Wildcat win in any of those games, save maybe Mizzou at home. However, given the talent we have at the skill positions on offense and a solid and experienced defense, we are separated from a big win by consistent offensive line play. Thus, our best chance probably comes in the November games against NU and Mizzou, because at that point the offensive line will have had most of a season to work together.

5. With Missouri and Nebraska in the North, will Kansas State emerge as the dark horse and contend for the division title?

The Omaha World-Herald noted the other day that K-State has a distinct possibility of being 4-2 in conference play when it travels to Lincoln, Neb., on November 10. That record could be achieved by beating Iowa State, Colorado, Baylor and KU (three of those are at home) and losing to Texas and Oklahoma State (both on the road). A 6-3 team that is 4-2 in conference play would be fairly confident and as mentioned before, the offensive line may start to come together late in the year like it did last year. At that point I think K-State could definitely be a dark horse for the North, as a win at Nebraska would leave only a home date with Mizzou (a team that hasn't won in Manhattan since the first Bush was President) between the Cats and a trip to San Antonio.

That's all easy to say in August, but it's possible.