Powercat Gameday Panel

| August 31, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Stanton Weber, Cole Manbeck and John Kurtz

Welcome to the first weekly Powercat Gameday Panel, where Powercat Gameday hosts John Kurtz, Cole Manbeck, and Stanton Weber will be fielding your Twitter questions every week of football season.

If you plan on making the trip to Palo Alto this weekend, join the Powercat Gameday crew at the Old Pro, located less than a mile from Stanford Stadium, where we, along with our fourth host Corey Reeves, will be broadcasting our show live starting 4 hours before the game. If you can’t make the trip, be sure to tune into KMAN to help us kickoff the Big-12’s biggest pregame show’s 21st year.

For it being our first week ever of Powercat Gameday Panel, we appreciate all the fans that chimed in with a question. If your question didn’t make the cut this week, keep the questions coming and we’ll do our best answer one of yours in the coming weeks.

To submit a question, tweet it to @powercatgameday or any of our Twitter Accounts: @jlkurtz, @Cole_Manbeck, or @stantonweber.

 

Let’s get to it:

 

Our first question aligns with the theme of college football’s kickoff between Cal and Hawaii, played in Sydney, Australia.

 

Stanton: With Kansas State’s men’s basketball team traveling to Italy, the volleyball team playing a tournament in Hawaii, and the women’s basketball team headed to the Virgin Islands very soon, I think the Football team deserves an international experience. Now that experience being a game right as school is starting may not be the best way to benefit the student athletes. With the stress of classes starting up, training camp just finishing, and a college football season upon them, a 13-hour plane ride to go play week 1 would not be ideal. Not to mention, it would be a logistical headache for K-State operations (Cal had to ship goal posts to Sydney by boat). So a game to kick off the season overseas, for the student-athletes’ sake, I would be opposed to going overseas.

If I had to choose a location it would be Munich, Germany because of its great history and even better beer. I had the opportunity to visit there this last spring and toured Allianz Arena, the home of FC Bayern Munich. The stadium holds 75,000 fans and would be a perfect venue for an American (real) football game.

Cole: Interesting question, Scott, and I don’t think you’ll like my boring answer. I’m a traditionalist and prefer for games to be played on American soil. But if I had to choose, I’d say the Bahamas, because I’m all about the beach life.

John: I’d have to go with Japan here. K-State has unfinished business after going down 38-24 in Tokyo to Nebraska in the 1992 Coca Cola Classic. This was also where the infamous story about Bill Snyder getting upset about what side of the plane the team was on came from.

 

Cole: Dante Barnett returns from injury and that completely changes K-State’s secondary. Aside from that, many first-year starters from last season now have a full year of experience under their belts, including Duke Shelley and Kendall Adams in the secondary and Elijah Lee at linebacker.

The Wildcats forced only 16 turnovers last season, the fewest turnovers forced by a K-State team in Bill Snyder’s 24 seasons. I expect that number to increase this season. In addition, the Wildcats’ five interceptions tied for the second-fewest by a K-State team since 1954. I expect that number to go up. With more experience on defense, the Wildcats can take a few more risks and hopefully that results in more turnovers.

John: Dante Barnett, and his seven career interceptions, coming back should dramatically improve the five interception total from last year. Another year of development for Duke Shelley should help in that department as well. K-State needs to create turnovers when playing the Tom Hayes-style of bend but don’t break defense.

As Cole has pointed out numerous times in his blogs, K-State was already pretty solid in rushing the passer last year. Jordan Willis and Will Geary are back, and I love the potential of redshirt freshman Reggie Walker.

I haven’t even touched on the deepest unit on the team. The linebackers are led by the one guy who did create some turnovers last year in Elijah Lee. If Mike Moore plays half as well as he did in the final three games last year, this unit will be in great shape.

Stanton: The guys have touched on it and I will briefly, the factor of three-time captain Dante Barnett as not only a playmaker but also as a field general is invaluable. His presence alone will be a significant boost to the rest of the defense.

There are many reasons the defense should be improved and I agree with what Cole and John have expressed. The experience and depth at linebacker has a very unique opportunity to be showcased this weekend in Palo Alto. Contrary to the spread offenses that the Kansas State defense has been accustomed to seeing in the Big-12, Stanford’s pro-style offense will allow K-State to play three linebackers. Allowing an additional player from one of K-State’s strongest position groups to contribute on most every play will be very positive for the defense.

 

150 all-purpose yards, which includes kickoff return yards and punt return yards, would be a very attainable mark for McCaffrey to exceed, but when you look at the question as yards from scrimmage it becomes very intriguing.

John: It’s just tough to see K-State doing that, especially when so much of the offense is likely to run through McCaffrey. Stanford announced earlier this week that RB/WR Bryce Love, a dynamic playmaker that was likely to shoulder some of the load on offense, is unlikely to play. That puts even more back on McCaffrey.

With Stanford breaking in some new offensive lineman and a new quarterback, plus K-State’s solid pass rush, I’d expect them to really lean on keeping it on the ground in McCaffrey’s hands.

There’s a reason McCaffrey totally shattered Barry Sanders’ FBS record for all-purpose yards last season. If I’m a betting man, I’m going with the over 150 yards.

Stanton: Christian McCaffrey is Stanford’s top returning rusher, receiver, punt returner, kickoff returner, and… touchdown passer. He’s indescribably impressive. If I am making a list of “keys to victory” for Kansas State, this would be on the top of the list. If K-State can stop McCaffrey and put the game in Ryan Burns’ hands, their chances of winning increase significantly. In Stanford’s season opening loss to Northwestern last year, the Cardinal were held to under 100 yards rushing and failed to score a rushing touchdown, an occurrence that has only happened once in their last 49 games. If you’re looking for a blueprint on how to beat Stanford, that’s a great place to start. Against Northwestern McCaffrey was held to only 89 yards from scrimmage.

With a brand new starting quarterback and the Heisman favorite on your team, I think David Shaw will be putting the ball in McCaffrey’s hands early and often. If Kansas State holds McCaffrey to under 150 yards, this will be a very close ball game. If I had to predict I would take the over as well.

Cole: Only four out of Stanford’s 14 opponents held McCaffrey to less than 150 yards from scrimmage last season. So the odds are against the Wildcats and I don’t think they’ll hold him below that mark.

But this is an interesting question. Stanford is breaking in a first-time starter at quarterback and replacing several weapons at tight end and receiver. So they’ll likely rely on McCaffrey even more than they did in 2015, particularly early in the season. K-State will likely do everything they can to take away the Heisman frontrunner and force a first-time starter at quarterback to beat them. However, because of how much they’ll rely on the junior tailback, I see him getting too many touches to be held below that mark.

Stanton: The leading rusher for K-State the previous two years returns in Charles Jones, alongside Jones is former walk-on Justin Silmon. The distribution of carries between the two backs in 2015 was 142:78 respectively, roughly 65:35 in favor of Jones.

Playing running back in major college football is no easy task, the physical demand put on an every down back makes it difficult to sustain production throughout an entire year. That being said, I believe the depth at running back should help boost the per carry average of all the backs.

With a year of experience I expect Silmon to see an increased distribution of carries. Dalvin Warmack appears to have earned his way into the conversation as well. Co-Offensive Coordinator Dana Dimmel has said all three will get their chances and he will ride the hot hand. So my prediction for distribution is 50:40:10 for Jones, Silmon, and Warmack respectively. Also, don’t be surprised to see Alex Barnes at some point this year, maybe even on Friday.

Cole: I would guess Charles Jones will get 10-15 carries with Justin Silmon getting five to 10 touches. I also believe Dalvin Warmack will see the field and get a few touches. The Wildcats need to the sophomore to be a big-play threat out of the backfield and I believe they’ll try to use him in the passing game as well.

I don’t see Alex Barnes getting any carries Friday, but keep an eye on the redshirt freshman as he has impressed the coaches in practice.

John: I like Cole’s splits here. I’d add that I think it will be more of a matter of riding the hot hand. That’s what K-State did for most of last season. Charles Jones struggled the first month of the season, and a lot of the workload turned over to Justin Silmon. Then Jones surged back in front the final nine games and averaged over five yards-per-carry.

Jones likely gets the first two series before Silmon gets a crack. After that, I’d think it comes down to whoever is hot with a little bit of Warmack mixed in for good measure.

 

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Cole: On defense, Dante Barnett’s return and impact on the defense is obvious. So I’ll go with someone who redshirted last year — Reggie Walker. I am very high on the freshman defensive end, and it speaks volumes that he’s starting in the season-opener in just his second year in the program. He will likely need some time to adjust, but by the end of this season, I expect him to be a force at applying pressure on opposing QBs.

Offensively, aside from the return of Jesse Ertz at quarterback, it has to be Byron Pringle at receiver. K-State lacked explosive plays on offense in 2015, ranking next-to-last in the Big 12 with just 35 completions of 20 or more yards. Pringle gives the Wildcats a big, physical presence at receiver who can strike fear into defenses with his big-play ability, something K-State missed last season.

John: A prime candidate for someone to take a big jump this year on defense would be LB Charmeachelle Moore. He’s battled a number of tough situations throughout his career, both health and family related, but now has seemingly been able to put that all in the past.

Moore had 43 total tackles in the final four games of last season. That includes an unreal 17 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sack performance against West Virginia. Maintaining that type of pace will be tough, but he has the athleticism to come close.

I’ll take WR Isaiah Zuber on offense. The whispers of his playmaking ability started in the middle of last season. Bill Snyder mentioned at his first press conference that Zuber is the first in line to get snaps after the three starters at wide receiver. He should make a solid impact by the end of the year.

Stanton: Defensively, as you look up and down the depth chart, one of the most interesting spots is the cornerback position opposite Duke Shelley occupied by community college transfer DJ Reed. The incoming sophomore has received praise from Coach Snyder for his competitiveness and consistency throughout camp. If Reed can emerge as a solid player for Kansas State, the defense has a chance to be dangerous.

As Cole talked about, Byron Pringle has the opportunity to be a special player, and I believe his impact will have a ripple effect onto the rest of the receiver core, specifically Deante Burton. Kansas State’s leading receiver from 2015 returns for his senior campaign with 22 career starts under his belt. With Burton’s combined skill set of size and speed he has been on opposing defenses’ radars as K-State’s primary option at receiver. Naturally, opponents game planned to limit his production as best they could. With the addition of Byron Pringle, and the emergence of other young receivers, look for Deante Burton to see more situations where he can showcase his athleticism and make a strong impact in the 2016 season.

The tree is the unofficial mascot of Stanford and the official mascot of the Stanford Band. This inspired us to have a little fun and each pick a mascot that we thought was unique/odd out in the sports world.

Stanton: The Stanford Band’s mascot is unique and was always a favorite when playing the Mascot Mashup games featured in EA Sports’ video game NCAA Football (RIP). The tree was throwing and catching the ball with no arms, it put its forehead on the ground to get into a three-point stance for God’s sake, how can you not be amused by that? Speaking of the Stanford Band, I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeve for K-State. If they break out the FarmersOnly.com jingle, like they did for Iowa in the Rose Bowl, I’m calling foul because with their reputation, we deserve to see something original.

As for my favorite “weird mascot” out there I have to give it to Keggy the Keg from the campus of Dartmouth College. The Big Green’s unofficial mascot debuted at the 2003 Homecoming game against Columbia. Nothing says “college” like a beer keg for a mascot, I encourage you to check out the link.

Cole: The Stanford tree is one of the strangest mascots in college sports. Nebraska’s Lil’ Red and Western Kentucky’s “Big Red” earn Honorable Mention honors for strangest mascot.

John: Call me crazy, but I’m actually a fan of the tree. It’s unique and very easily identifiable as the Stanford mascot. It also fits in pretty well with the general vibe of the Stanford band. I love goofy minor league baseball mascots though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. There’s nothing better than the Montgomery Biscuits as far as mascots go.

Let’s add Special Teams in there for good measure.

Cole: The 1998 team in its entirety is my dream team. That was my favorite K-State team and they were hands down the best team in the country that season. Ben Leber, Monty Beisel and Jon McGraw were backups on that defense — three backups who eventually played in the NFL. Damion McIntosh, Jeff Kelly, Lamar Chapman, Mark Simoneau, Darren Howard and on and on. So much talent. When that team led Texas A&M by 15 in the fourth quarter of the Big 12 Championship, I thought there was no way that defense would give that up.

Offensively, Michael Bishop was my favorite player to watch growing up. Bishop, coupled with that huge offensive line, were fun to watch.

And on special teams, David Allen and Martin Gramatica and so on. I can’t think of a more complete team in program history.

Stanton: A tough question to say the least. Playing alongside Collin Klein may make me bias on this but the guy’s leadership, toughness, and unbelievable character forces me to pick the 2012 offense. I know most people would look straight to the statistics to answer this question but I am a strong believer in how intangibles will permeate throughout a team’s culture and make all facets of a team better. In case you want a stat, though, here’s one: Collin Klein was 10-1 in games decided by 7 points or less, he flat out won. As for toughness, he would go through the equivalent of a car crash every week, when he took his pads off in the locker room after games it was difficult to find an area of his body that wasn’t black and blue. Yet, he’d come back the next week and do it again, never missing a start in his career. Looking at the other assets on that team from the receiver core of Chris Harper, Tremaine Thompson, and Tyler Lockett to the strong offensive line and John Hubert at running back, it’s hard to find a weakness.

Defensively I like the 2002 squad. The unit allowed an average of only 69.5 yards rushing per game, that’s a K-State record by almost 30 yards a game. They had 20 interceptions that year and allowed an average of 11.8 points per game, 2nd fewest only to the 1953 squad.

My selection for special teams was difficult. There have been so many K-State teams that have been great in one facet of special teams or another. The recent success of Tyler Lockett and Morgan Burns in the area of kickoff return makes this decision more difficult than expected. David Allen’s punt return campaign of 22.1 yards per return and 4 touchdowns paired with the record setting leg of Martin Gramatica makes a very attractive case for my choice of 1998.

John: I have a borderline obsession with the ‘98 team, so it’s hard for me to not go the Cole route of picking the entire team. To get creative here, I’ll start with offense and take the ‘03 (when healthy) group.

That offense with a healthy Roberson, Darren Sproles and a deep threat in James Terry was perfect for what Bill Snyder wants to do offensively. You have an incredibly mobile QB, dynamic running back and the ability to throw it deep when you’re not running it. Not to mention guys like Nick Lecky up front on the line and a solid tight end in Brian Casey.

I’ll go back further with the defense and take the ‘95 unit. That team led the country in total defense and actually pitched three straight shutouts at one point. The linebacking corps was nasty with guys like Percell Gaskins, Travis Ochs and DeShawn Fogle. Tim Colston and Nyle Wiren were complete beasts on the defensive line. The secondary was stingy too with future first-round draft pick Chris Canty, Joe Gordon and Mario Smith.

Finally to get ‘98 some representation, I’ll take their special teams. Martin Gramatica was the best kicker in the country and set the record for longest field goal made without the use of a tee. James Garcia was a solid punter. Most importantly, the return game featured David Allen who ran four punts back for touchdowns that season. Aaron Lockett was also a freshman on that team if you need a little more pop in the return game.

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