1. What makes Bill Snyder so good and how does he keep it going year after year?
Jon: Hard work and attention to detail -- an obsessive attention, really.
Snyder knows his system works, and as a result he goes after guys who
can fit into that system rather than wasting energy chasing down
five-star recruits. It's a fruitless effort anyway, as it's so hard to
sell those kids on both moving to Kansas and putting in the actual work
Snyder demands. There are no prima donnas here.
2. How do you expect Kansas State to fare in the Big 12 this year given the injury to their quarterback?
Jon: We're all still sort of waiting to see how things play out over the next
couple of weeks before committing to an answer to that one. The team
showed us a lot last Saturday in San Antonio.
The general feeling is that this is probably a 5-4 or 6-3 team in the
Big 12, with a few people putting forth strong arguments that 7-2 is
entirely possible. Oklahoma State will be the bellwether -- unless, of
course, the Wildcats lose this Saturday, in which case those projections
are getting downgraded in a hurry.
3. What do you expect K-State to do offensively against Louisiana Tech?
Jon: That will largely depend on what opportunities the defense presents.
Right now, the philosophy appears to be a mixture of cramming the ball
right down the defense's throat and airing it out. Hubener is a pretty
good quarterback himself; he made zero mental errors last week, and
aside from a couple of pretty awful throws he was mostly on target. And
even those throws were out of harm's way, at least. He was exceptionally
patient, even in the face of a pass rush, at progressing through his
reads, and when he runs the ball he reminds one of Collin Klein --
again, patience being the key, waiting for holes to open and blocking to
As for the rest of the offense, it's going to largely depend on which
receivers are able to catch passes; drops have been a problem. And it
will also depend on what the coaching staff decides to do at running
back. Charles Jones, the starter, has been ineffective. Justin Silmon
has not, but Bill Snyder says there are "technical issues" preventing
him from being the number one back. We'll see how that plays out.
4. What does the fan base look for in a non-conference schedule? Do they like playing teams from Conference USA?
Jon: I think the fanbase is just fine with that. It's the FCS teams that
cause division. Some people see no problem with opening against FCS
teams; others would really very much like to get rid of them entirely.
The main thing everyone agrees on is that K-State has to start getting a
Power 5 non-conference game on the schedule every year, and it looks
like that's finally happening; after next season, K-State will face an
SEC team every year for four years.
Speaking for me, the ideal schedule is either one FCS, one Group of
Five, and one Power Five, or two G5s and a Power Five.
5. What does Kansas State do to attract talented players to Manhattan, KS? Do they still rely heavily on the junior college system there in Kansas?
Jon: The main attraction has always been Snyder himself, but $150 million in
facilities upgrades later there's a little more draw. Vanier is now a
state-of-the-art football facility, and the recent renovations to Bill
Snyder Family Stadium have made it a pretty snazzy place, albeit still
on the small side compared to the blue blood programs.
Interestingly, the coaching staff has now drifted away from the junior
college circuit. They'll still pick up a few here and there to fill in
holes as needed, but K-State only brought in three JUCO players in the
off-season. Snyder used to make use of the placement system, but players
he's placed have started going to other schools, and a lot of the 2014
JUCO class just didn't pan out at all. So this year, Snyder went heavy
on high schoolers.
Basically, Snyder adjusts his recruiting philosophy year-to-year to
exploit whatever inefficiencies he can find. The primary thing that
never changes: he and his staff dig up kids that the recruiting services
haven't even rated, because they've never seen them.
6. What's your score prediction for Saturday?
Jon: That's a tough one, because we just don't know what K-State's first two
games have really told us. If we make some presumptions about what
another week of practice will do -- and if Dante Barnett is able to get
back on the field this weekend -- it's going to be awfully difficult for
Louisiana Tech to score a bunch of points. I also get the sense that the
Bulldogs can be scored upon.
So just off the cuff, I'll go with a 30-20 win for the Wildcats.
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