You will just have to trust me on this, but we here at BOTC appreciate use of the written word.
But, as the insane amount of content the past month or so has flooded your BOTC screens, it's left Morse in the corner complaining to a mustachioed attendant that "my fingers hurt," and wondering if he could trouble the worker for a glass of warm milk because it helps put him to sleep.
So, power on through this weekly round table and be oh so glad the Kansas State Wildcats football season is now just a few days away.
Shall we ... ?
Even if most aren't flat stating it, there is a high level of expectation applied to this season based on preseason awards, polls, dark horse conversations, etc. Is the hype for real in your mind, or did people talk themselves into an unrealistic frenzy?
TB - I've fallen too deep into the world or probabilities to get into too much of a frenzy. The odds that we beat any one of Auburn, Baylor and Oklahoma are not great, and the odds that we beat all three are pretty much zero. And there are enough questions at running back, offensive line, and safety to make to worry about some other games, too. But this looks like the best K-State team since 2012, and if you want to, you can talk yourself into a big year.
Jon - I honestly can't answer this yet. I think this team is better -- much better -- than people were expecting it to be coming out of last season. But at the same time, there are still some question marks which could scuttle a run at the conference title. Will we have a potent enough running game to prevent defenses from just selling out on the pass? Can we stop the run ourselves? Huge questions, and if the answer to both is "yes", the hype's warranted.
00 - I don't want to accuse the more strident parts of the fan base of pie-in-the-sky optimism, but the folks worrying about K-State being left out of the playoffs are not being very realistic, in my opinion. There is great potential here, but also plenty of question marks that could throw a real wrench into the works. For what it's worth, this season reminds me of 2002. There are some interesting parallels: the Cats were coming off a disappointing season (much more disappointing than 2013), but the season got off to a good start with a big win over a marquee non-conference opponent (USC), and the team finished strong as well. But that team was not perfect, and faltered in the middle of the conference slate. I can see the 2014 season unfold in a like manner.
CK - Well, if you like returning size, speed, strength and general program knowledge, then you should love the general makeup of this team. Familiar story, but while many names on the two-deep aren't of the household variety yet, there is a heavy "program guy" feel to the depth chart. I'll take that eight days a week over those flashy fixes some coaches try (and usually fail) when they inject nothing but junior college talent on to the field. All of that said, what I like best is that some true freshmen have cracked the depth chart, which, to me, means they're legitimately talented and hungry. If they stay that way, and the team gels as it normally does through the season, this thing could be a double-digit win beast.
Who is the most important Wildcat on this team?
TB - Tyler Lockett. Without him, defenses can clamp down on the run with no deep threat, and this offense doesn't go anywhere.
Jon - Conversely, whichever running back is in the game, for the exact opposite reason. If K-State presents no threat on the ground, Lockett's going to have to beat two defensive backs every snap.
00 - Jake Waters. If the only QB with any real game experience does not play well, or is unable to play, that will completely alter the season picture. I don't know if Hubener or Ertz have the ability to step in and make a seamless transition, especially considering how much a QB needs to do in K-State's system.
CK - For the sake of conversation and since you all took the obvious answers, I'll say the safety position. If Dante Barnett, Dylan Schellenberg and Kaleb Prewett don't keep a cap on opposing offenses, a lot of things are going to go wrong in a hurry against the better Big 12 offenses.
If we look back at the 2014 season and try to figure out what held K-State back from having a superior season, that will be:
TB - Turnovers. Turning the ball over on offense and inability to force turnovers on defense was the biggest on-field problem last year. Jake Waters threw nine interceptions last year; if he can cut that to five or six, and Danzel McDaniel or one of the other newcomers in the secondary turns into a ballhawk, this could be a pretty awesome year. If not, then it's probably 8-4 or 9-3 again.
Jon - Goes back to the first question. Either we couldn't run, or we couldn't stop it.
00 - I never thought I'd ever say this as a K-State fan, but I'd have to say coaching. There was so much indecision with regard to who to start at QB, and more importantly, what plays to run with each personnel package, that we never got into a consistent rhythm. This is not a problem I expect the team will have in 2014.
CK - Aside from the safeties I mentioned earlier, the right side of the offensive line is a potential hiccup that could turn into major reflux. If this week's starters (Drew Liddle and Matt Kleinsorge) pan out through the year, the offense will roll. But, if that pair doesn't pan out, and the junior college guys (A.J. Allen and Luke Hayes) don't fare much better, all the scheming in the world won't hide that deficiency.
Anybody you have your eye on as this year's Ryan Mueller (breakthrough performer)?
TB - My eyes will be on the secondary. Having a Nigel Malone or Bubba Chapman, who can recognize underneath routes and jump them for PBUs and interceptions is the difference between bend-but-don't break and a defense that can play aggressively.
Jon - It's easy to say Dante Barnett, but that might be cheating since I think we're all in agreement he broke through at the tail end of last season. The same could be said for Jonathan Truman. I think this year, the guy who's going to wow folks will be Mike Moore.
00 - I think Will Davis is going to shock the world. He doesn't rate too highly with most fans because everyone is eager to begin the D'Vonta Derricott era, but he's freakishly strong and works hard. That's a recipe for success at that position.
CK - I'll answer this in question form: How fun would it be if Deante Burton's game exploded on the other side of the field from Tyler Lockett? And, if he has to work into beast mode so be it, but the first time Terrell Clinkscales' name hits the depth chart as a starter, and not because of injuries, it should be a cause for celebration. Same goes for Kaleb Prewett. Elsewhere, I'd love to think one of the running backs breaks forward from the group because that would be fun. But even if they do, it's not like the offense is going to suddenly switch its focus to a run-heavy something.
One win above the rest that you absolutely want this season:
TB - Auburn.
Jon - Ugh. I guess it all depends on what you want from the season. I like championships, but I really like tweaking the SEC. I mean, a lot. The catch is, one of those two options requires eight or nine wins. The other only requires one. Auburn.
00 - I want to say Auburn, because winning that game will do wonders for K-State's perception as a good team/program. But that game has little bearing on the outcome of the entire season. Beating OU gives us a much better shot at another Big 12 title, so yeah, BEAT OKLAHOMA.
CK - To play along, I say Auburn, sure. But in reality, with a hat tip to Queen, the correct answer is: "I want it all, and I want it now."