The Kansas State Wildcats open the 2016 season on the road against AP No. 8 Stanford on Friday. With good experience (and talent) returning defensively but questions at quarterback and on a new-look offensive line, it’s hard to say, exactly, what the expectation is regarding performance.*
*Unless you are a disciple of K-State’s 16 Goals For Success, of course, and choose to live by No. 13: “Expect to win.” For the sake of the rest of this piece, though, let’s leave that perfectly reasonable thought to the side for now.
K-State head coach Bill Snyder shared his thoughts with the media on Tuesday.
“Stanford is a great challenge, and our players are excited about playing the game, that’s a positive thing,” Snyder said.
As for his made-over young o-line?
“They will probably see the brunt of Stanford’s defense and movements and all that goes along with it,” Snyder said. “They’re drilling diligently on that right now and they’ve went through spring practice well. They’ve earned the right to be there.
“They don’t have the experience that you’d like, but they’ve had a significant amount of practice experience. So we’re doing the kind of work that we need to be doing and the practice with the environment and how we organize it. I think there will be some carry over for them into the ballgame.”
Snyder also laid out his thoughts on Stanford’s Heisman hopeful, running back Christian McCaffrey.
“I have not met him personally, but I like the way he conducts himself. I would say the hidden ingredient is his leadership on that team in a very humble fashion,” Snyder said. “I just like that nature of his character.
“Aside from that, on the football field, it’s just being able to identify where he is and why he’s there becomes important. He can line up in a lot of different positions and not get baited out of position because of where his linemen are.
“[Our players] have to understand what he can, but also equally important, what he can’t do from certain positions. He can be a deceptive runner, he can be a powerful runner, and obviously he’s got a good deal of speed. We have to be great on our cover units – our punt units and kickoff units – because he offers those things on the return units as he does in their offense.”
Outside of the team, as anyone would in today’s day and age, I asked Twitter what it expects.
“Competitive, with McCaffrey being the X-factor. K-State matches up well otherwise.” – @bclaymoore
“Think KSU defense can keep it close just not sure about how efficient KSU’s offense will be, too many unknowns.” – @jswabash
“Expect a competitive game but not a W.” – @bmalcolm88
“I like our team but I think we’ll struggle to stay in the game. Close at half but we fall 31-13.” – @MultiTodd
“Snyder Goal #13” – @MichaelKBerges
“To be competent and keep things close, IMO.” – @roh_tweets
“Get pressure with DL, keep McCaffrey contained and make someone else beat us, >55% completion rate, and competent OL play.” – @Tye_KC
And, finally, my current favorite …
“K-State 98, Stanford 2” – @Schmidtburgh