This week, we'll be recording the preseason predictions of the editorial staff here at BOTC. In the effort of being completely transparent (as is the theme of the university right now), we wanted to get these out as soon as fall camp starts before, presumably, players on our team and other teams are lost for the season for one reason or another. That way, we can always go back and say, "Uh yeah, I had no idea the third string gunner was going to get injured. Otherwise, my prediction would have been WAY different."
We are continuing our "Preseason Predictions" with EMAW's contribution.
- Projected Overall Record: 6-6
- Projected Conference Record: 3-5
- Best Chance for an Upset: Missouri
- Best Chance to be Upset: Texas A&M
- Team MVP: Brandon Harold
- Offensive MVP: Jerron Mastrud
- Defensive MVP: Alex Hrebec
- Offensive Newcomer of the Year: Daniel Thomas
- Defensive Newcomer of the Year: Jeffery Fitzgerald
The return of Bill Snyder has also brought the return of weaker non-conference opponents. It's nice that Snyder kept the UCLA game on the schedule, but the presence of two FCS teams in Tennesse Tech and UMass will make the road to bowl eligibility pretty tough. Because only one win against FCS competition counts towards being bowl eligible, the Cats need seven wins overall rather than six (assuming they pick up both wins against TennTech and UMass). We'll get a chance to see what this team is really made of early on with road games at Lousiana and UCLA. In the past three seasons, those would be games I could see us dropping by three scores, due to the way Ron Prince's teams/staff were improperly prepared for road games.
The early part of the Big 12 schedule plays out favorably, so K-State should make the most of the opportunity. If they can sweep through the non-con unscathed, I can easily see a 6-1 start heading to Colorado, with the only loss being Texas Tech. Even then, a win against the Red Raiders isn't off the list of possibilities if this team hits its stride early.
As easy as the early portion of the conference slate looks on paper, the back end of the season could be trouble. I'm not sold on Colorado, and I expect our coaching and talent to defeat a hyped Buffs team in Manhattan. I hate to be pessimistic, but it will be a miracle for us to beat OU in Norman this year. KU will have an experienced team, but their season could go either way depending on how their schedule plays out before they come to Manhattan. The last thing Snyder needs is a Jayhawk team coming to BSFS on a roll. Mizzou has a wealth of young talent, but the question will be whether or not they can get the most of that talent during this "rebuilding" year. Nebraska is in the same boat as Mizzou. I'm not sold on Pelini, though Nebraska seems more like Nebraska with him at the helm. It was hard to hate Bill Callahan when we knew that he was just reversing the tradition that had been in place in Lincoln for so long. I wish BC was still around now that we have an actual coach that could stop his NFL offense.
I went against the norm and picked Mastrud as Offensive MVP. Banks will probably have another solid year, but Mastrud could be that 3rd down receiver that Carson Coffman will need during his first year as a starter. If Del Miller can find ways to get Mastrud the ball (which he should if Banks and Lamark Brown can keep the safetys' and linebackers' attention), the tight end should have a breakout year. Same with Hrebec on the other side of the ball. The line backer came on strong towards the end of last year, and that added confidence can make him the type of player that thrives in Snyder's defensive system. Plus, the new 4-2-5 will rely heavily on solid linebackers that know how to tackle instead of how to cover passes. Alex knows how to tackle.
Overall, I don't expect great things in Snyder's first year back. But, I do expect a more focused team that won't allow itself to get repeatedly embarrased on the football field. I'll consider a bowl trip a huge step forward for this team. Coach has assembled a highly qualified, very veteran, coaching staff to get these "youngsters" in shape. If there's one thing I hope to see this season, it's an intensity on the defensive side of the ball that was so characteristic during the glory years between about 1995 and 2003. A 6-6 season isn't a stretch, and really anything less could be considered disappointing.
Ahhhhh....I can't wait.