K-State Opens 2016 Slate with Primetime Matchup
K-State Opens 2016 Slate with Primetime Matchup
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The 121st season of K-State Football commences with a matchup of two hard-nosed teams as the Wildcats travel to seventh-ranked Stanford for a special Friday-night contest beginning at 8 p.m. (CT) at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. The contest will be shown to a national audience on FS1 with Gus Johnson (play-by-play), Joel Klatt (analyst) and Shannon Spake (sidelines) on the call.
The game can also be heard across the 36-station K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), former K-State quarterback Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sidelines) calling the action, while the game will also be on SiriusXM channel 84 and Westwood One. Live stats are available at k-statesports.com, while Twitter updates (@kstate_gameday, @KStateFB) will all be a part of the coverage.
A LOOK AT K-STATE
• Guided by 2015 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Bill Snyder, who enters his 25th season at the helm of the Wildcats, K-State returns 37 letterwinners – including 17 starters – from a team that earned the program’s sixth-straight bowl berth.
• Five of the returning starters earned All-Big 12 honors in 2015.
• K-State brings back nine starters on defense, the most in Snyder’s second stint as head coach, and includes two on the line, three linebackers and four in the secondary.
• A three-way QB battle presents itself for a second-straight season, a year after Jesse Ertz started the 2015 opener but was injured on the first offensive snap and lost for the season.
• The wide receiver unit is deep, but inexperienced, which is also true for the offensive line.
• Upwards of four players will battle for time at RB, headlined by 2016 Doak Walker Award watch list member Charles Jones, who has 1,236 career rushing yards.
A LOOK AT STANFORD
• Led by sixth-year head coach David Shaw, Stanford is coming off a 12-2 season, which culminated with a Pac-12 Championship and a victory over No. 6 Iowa in the Rose Bowl.
• The Cardinal is led on the field by Christian McCaffrey, who totaled 3,864 all-purpose yards en route to a runner-up finish in the 2015 Heisman Trophy voting.
A LOOK AT THE SERIES
• Friday marks the first time K-State and Stanford will battle on the gridiron.
• The Wildcats are 28-62-1 all-time against current members of the Pac-12, but 8-17 when taking out the record against former Big 12 foe Colorado.
• The last time the Cats played a regular-season game against a current member of the Pac-12 was in the 2010 opener, a 31-22 victory over UCLA.
• K-State owns an 82-33-5 (.704) record all-time in season openers, including a 22-2 mark under Bill Snyder.
• Friday’s game marks the first time K-State will begin a season on the road since the 2007 season (at Auburn).
• K-State also started the 2001 season in California, winning at USC, 10-6, on Sept. 8.
SEASON NO. 121
• Friday’s contest marks the beginning of the 121st season of football at Kansas State.
• The Wildcats enter the year with an all-time record of 509-631-41 (.448).
• Of the 509 wins, 37.9-percent have come under Bill Snyder (193 wins).
SNYDER IN SEPTEMBER
• Fast starts have propelled the Wildcats to winning seasons under Bill Snyder. Since 1992 under Snyder, K-State is a combined 62-7 (.899) in September.
• Of the losses, four came on the road, as the Cats are 47-3 in September home games during that stretch.
• Since Snyder’s return to the sidelines in 2009, K-State is 20-4 in the month of September.
• Since 1990, K-State has won 72 of its 81 (.889) regular-season non-conference games under Bill Snyder, including 62-of-66 (.939) at home.
• K-State has had perfect regular season non-conference ledgers in 15 of the last 23 years.
NON-CON ROAD NOTES
• In non-conference regular season road games under Bill Snyder, the Cats have won 10 of their last 12, dating back to a 30-25 win at Minnesota in 1993.
• Overall, K-State is 10-8 in non-conference road games since 1989 and 10-6 during that span under Snyder.
• Those nine wins included at Minnesota (1993), UNLV (1994), Cincinnati (1995), Rice (1996), Northern Illinois (1997), Southern California (2001), Marshall (2005), North Texas (2010), Miami [Fla.] (2011) and UTSA (2015).
POWER 5 ROAD TEST
• Friday’s game marks just the seventh time since 1989 K-State will play a true road game in the regular season at a non-conference Power 5 school.
• K-State is just 2-4 in the previous six games, but is coming off a 28-24 win at Miami in 2011.
• The Cats are in search of their first win in a true non-conference road game vs. a ranked opponent (0-12).
• Seventh-ranked Stanford marks the highest ranked opponent K-State has opened with on the road in school history.
• The Stanford game represents the beginning of a tough 2016 schedule for the Wildcats.
• Six opponents on K-State’s schedule are either ranked or receiving votes in the Preseason AP or Amway Coaches Poll, including four that are road contests and two (at Stanford, at Oklahoma) that are ranked in the top-10.
SNYDER IN ELITE COMPANY
• Head coach Bill Snyder currently has 193 career victories, 154 more than any other coach in school history.
• Snyder ranks first in the FBS in wins among active coaches at their current schools, second in total victories among active coaches overall and 29th in all-time wins.
• He is seven wins away from becoming the 25th coach in FBS history with 200 career wins.
• Snyder, who has 112 conference wins, is one of four coaches with 100 Big 8/12 victories (Tom Osborne , Bob Stoops , Barry Switzer ).
• Kansas State is in rare company in college football as the Wildcats rank in the top 20 in wins among FBS programs over the last 21 seasons.
• Since 1995, K-State has picked up 174 victories, which is tied for 19th in the nation with Auburn and Tennessee.
• The Cats are only one win away from a tie for 17th and five victories away from the top 15.
• Among current Big 12 teams, only Oklahoma (6th; 196), Texas (11th; 191) and TCU (15th; 179) rank higher.
CLEAN IT UP
• K-State led the Big 12 and ranked 16th nationally last year with only 39.3 penalty yards per game, while the Cats were second in the league with 4.38 penalties per game.
• With a young team in 2015, penalties were more frequent early in the year but the Wildcats cleaned up down the stretch. In the final eight games of the regular season, K-State had just 32 (4.0 per game) penalties to jump back to No. 1 in the Big 12.
• K-State has ranked first or second in the conference in fewest penalty yards per game each of the previous five years. The Wildcats led the league in 2014, 2013 and 2011, while they ranked second in 2012 and 2010.
• Due to the multitude of injuries in 2015, a total of 13 players made their first-career starts last year, including a combined 11 freshmen or sophomores.
• Of the 11 underclassmen to make starts in 2015, eight were freshmen as Winston Dimel and Dalton Risner started all 13 games in addition to starts by Dominique Heath (4), Dayton Valentine (3) and Zach Reuter (1).
• Defensively, true freshman cornerback Duke Shelley started the final eight regular-season games, while redshirt freshman safety Kendall Adams made five starts.
• Redshirt or true freshmen combined to make 47 total starts in 2015, which tied for the most under Hall of Fame head coach Bill Snyder with the 1989 team, Snyder’s first year in Manhattan.
• Additionally, a total of 28 freshmen or sophomores saw playing time during the 2015 campaign.
• Although K-State saw its 49-game winning streak when leading at halftime come to an end, K-State had its best season in over a decade in terms of victories when trailing at halftime as the Cats won three of those games in 2015.
• K-State trailed Louisiana Tech, 10-6, at half and won, 39-36, in three overtimes. The Wildcats were down to Iowa State, 35-14, at halftime and won 38-35, and also trailed West Virginia, 13-3, before coming back for a 24-23 win.
• K-State only had three comeback wins over the previous three years combined, while it was the most come-from-behind victories in one season since 1999.
RED ZONE ALERT
• Kansas State has been one of the best red zone teams over the past few years, including a perfect mark over the final seven games of the 2015 season.
• The Wildcats finished the year ranked first in the Big 12 and second nationally by converting on 94.5-perecent (52-of-55) on their red-zone attempts, which included 35 touchdowns.
• Over the final seven games, K-State was perfect on its 25 attempts into the red zone with 17 touchdowns.
• Since 2012, K-State has scored touchdowns on 67.3-percent of its red zone opportunities in conference games, which leads the Big 12.
• In their 44 wins over the last five seasons, the Cats are 199-for-219 (.909) in red zone chances with 143 touchdowns, while four of their non-scoring trips have come via kneel downs to close out victories.
CROWDED AT QUARTERBACK
• K-State will not be short on depth at the quarterback position for a second-straight year as three players are vying for the starting honor.
• Last year, Jesse Ertz won the starting job but was injured on the first offensive play of the season and out for the year.
• However, with the start, Ertz became the first underclassman (Fr. or So.) under head coach Bill Snyder to start a season opener since Dylan Meier in 2004 and the first to start any game since Collin Klein in 2010.
• With Ertz’s injury, Joe Hubener went on to start 11 games and is back for his senior year, while Alex Delton played in two games as a true freshman before suffering a season-ending injury of his own. He received a medical hardship for 2015 and is classified a redshirt freshman this year.
• With young playmakers on offense in 2015, K-State returns 90.1-percent (1,854 of 2,057) of its positive rushing yardage (not counting negative team rushes).
• This year’s percentage is the highest since the 2012 squad returned 98.5-percent (2,420 of 2,456).
• The Wildcats had not been above 51-percent in that department over the previous three seasons, returning 50.4-percent in 2013, 50.2-percent in 2014 and just 46.8-percent in 2015.
• This year’s percentage is dominated by three different players, including running back Charles Jones (696 yards).
JONES’ SOLID SECOND HALF
• Kansas State is hoping that Charles Jones can replicate the second half of 2015 throughout his entire senior year. Over the final six regular-season games last season, Jones averaged 79.3 yards compared to a 30-yard average in the first half of the year.
• Jones’ second half was jump-started at Texas when he recorded a career-best 122 yards on 18 attempts, which was the most rushing yards by a K-State running back since John Hubert at Kansas in the 2013 regular-season finale (220).
• Jones narrowly missed another 100-yard effort two games later at Texas Tech, finishing with 99 yards.
• Of his six career games with 75-plus rushing yards, four came in 2015, while he hit the mark in three of the final four regular-season contests.
• During the game at Texas Tech, Jones became the 27th player in school history to hit the 1,000-yard mark in a career. He now has 1,236 career rushing yards to rank 21st in school history.
DIMEL BECOMES OFFENSIVE THREAT
• Winston Dimel, a First Team All-Big 12 selection last season and a 2016 Preseason All-Big 12 pick, became a dangerous offensive weapon as a redshirt freshman.
• Dimel accounted for nearly 20 percent (8-of-43) of K-State’s offensive touchdowns in 2015 thanks to six rushing touchdowns and a pair of touchdown receptions.
• The first Wildcat freshman to ever earn First Team All-Big 12 honors and the lone freshman on last year’s team, Dimel averaged 32.6 yards on eight receptions, the highest average among all players in school history with eight or more catches.
• Six of his eight catches went for 27 or more yards, highlighted by a career long 80-yard reception at UTSA and a 48-yard touchdown against Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl.
BEHIND ENEMY LINES
• The Cats recorded at least seven tackles for loss in seven games last season, including each of the final three regular-season games.
• The seven games with seven-plus TFLs were the most since recording 10 in the 15-game 2003 season.
• K-State tallied eight TFLs in consecutive games against Oklahoma and Texas, the first time with eight or more in consecutive games since 2012 (Miami and North Texas).
• The Cats finished the season year with 72.0 TFLs, their fourth-straight season with 70 or more TFLs.
• The current four-year streak with 70 or more TFLs is the longest by the Wildcats since 1996-2003 (eight years).
• Defensive end Jordan Willis led the way with 15.5 TFLs in 2015, which ranked fourth in the Big 12.
• Kansas State had one of its better seasons in terms of sacks in 2015, recording 38 to rank third in the Big 12, tie for ninth the in the nation and tie for eighth in school history.
• K-State, which had at least four sacks in each of its final three regular-season games and five times overall, finished in the top-10 nationally in sacks for the first time since 2006.
• Last year’s sack total was the highest since that 2006 squad carded 40 to tie for fifth in school history and sixth nationally.
SECOND HALF RESURGENCE
• The Wildcats turned in some terrific performances on defense in the second half of games over the second half of the regular season in 2015.
• Over the final six games against Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia, the Cats gave up an average of 184.8 total yards and 8.5 points in the final 30 minutes.
• Five of those games consisted of giving up no more than 152 yards and 10 points in the second half.
• In the win over Iowa State, K-State gave up just 144 yards and zero points, which helped lead to the largest comeback victory in school history (21 points).
• K-State also allowed just 10 second-half points to Baylor, which was averaging 61.1 per game entering the contest.
BARNETT READY TO LEAD DEFENSE AGAIN
• A year after seeing his season end with an injury in the first half of the season opener, safety Dante Barnett received a medical hardship and is back for his second senior year.
• Despite only playing in one game last season, Barnett still has started a Wildcat defensive-best 29 career games, including a 27-game stretch that came to an end last season.
• By starting every game in 2013 and 2014, Barnett became the first K-State safety in over 10 years to start every game over a two-year period.
• Barnett also leads all K-State defenders with 181 career tackles as he is 69 stops away from becoming the 27th player in school history with 250 career tackles.
• The 2014 Second Team All-Big 12 performer also has seven career interceptions, just three shy of entering the school’s top-10 list.
WILLIS THE SACK ARTIST
• Preseason All-Big 12 defensive end Jordan Willis was snubbed from All-Big 12 consideration last season even though he played like an all-conference player during his junior year.
• Willis finished second in the Big 12 and 24th nationally with 9.5 sacks, which was just a half sack shy of the school’s top-10 list. His total featured 3.5 sacks against Louisiana Tech, the second most by a Wildcat in school history and the K-State record in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
• A senior in 2016, Willis will look to enter the school’s career top-10 list for sacks as he has 14.5 in his three years, just 3.0 shy of a tie for 10th.
• Willis was also disruptive in other areas as he forced four fumbles a year ago, which ranked 13th nationally and tied for first in the Big 12.
LEE LED THE CHARGE
• A defensive end in high school, linebacker Elijah Lee has been impressive learning on the job as the Second Team All-Big 12 pick led the Wildcats with 80 tackles in 2015.
• Lee, who became the first K-State underclassman linebacker to earn first or second team All-Big 12 honors since Mark Simoneau in 1998, set a career high with 12 tackles against Louisiana Tech, while he had at least eight stops in five games, including four of the final six regular-season contests.
• Lee also led the team with three interceptions last year, including two against TCU. He became the first K-State linebacker with two picks in a game since Bryan Hickman against Oklahoma State in 2002.
• Averaging less than one tackle per contest over his first 32 career games, linebacker Charmeachealle Moore came out of virtually nowhere as his best games as a Wildcats coincided with K-State’s late-season charge in 2015.
• Moore averaged 11 tackles per game against Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia, which included a 17-tackle effort against the Mountaineers en route to Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors.
• Of his 17 tackles, 16 were solo stops to tie for the most nationally during the season and were the most by a Wildcat since at least 1990.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
SPECIAL TEAMS SHOWDOWN
• Friday’s primetime matchup features two of the best special teams units in the country as Phil Steele rates K-State’s collective units the tops in the nation, while Stanford is ranked fourth.
• K-State’s specialty units are directed by Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Sean Snyder, who was named the 2015 Special Teams Coordinator of the Year by both Phil Steele and Football Scoop.
CATS TOP IN NON-OFFENSIVE TDs
• K-State is the nation’s best in non-offensive touchdowns over the last 15-plus seasons as it has 101 since 1999.
• Since 1990, the Wildcats are 56-17 when scoring on special teams and 19-1 when scoring on special teams and defense, including a 17-0 mark under Bill Snyder.
• The Cats have had at least five non-offensive touchdowns in four of the last five years and in 15 of the 17 seasons since 1999.
• Morgan Burns had all five of the Wildcats’ non-offensive scores in 2015. He opened the season with a 100-yard kick return against South Dakota and added return touchdowns against Texas Tech (93 yards), Iowa State (100 yards) and West Virginia (97 yards). He also recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a score in a win at Kansas.
SCORING IN THE THIRD PHASE
• Kansas State has been far and away the best team among FBS programs over the last decade when it comes to scoring via a kickoff or punt return.
• The Wildcats have a combined 40 kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns since 2005, 12 more than any other FBS school over the last 11 seasons. Oklahoma State is second on the list with 28 combined kickoff- and punt-return touchdowns.
• K-State has been fairly consistent between kickoff and punt returns with 21 and 19 touchdowns, respectively, during the current stretch.
DEFENSE IN THE THIRD PHASE
• On the flip side, K-State has been just as consistent in terms of kickoff and punt coverage.
• The Wildcats have not allowed a kickoff-return touchdown in the last 37 games as the last time an opponent took a kickoff back for a score was Louisiana on Sept. 7, 2013.
• K-State finished the 2015 season ranked 12th nationally in kickoff return defense.
• Similarly, the Wildcats haven’t allowed a punt-return score since the second game of 2014 – Sept. 6 at Iowa State – which is a span of 24 games.
McCRANE MAKES IMPACT IN SHORT SEASON
• Despite playing in only five games during his sophomore season of 2015, place kicker Matthew McCrane still left an impression as he earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 honors by connecting on all seven field-goal attempts and all 15 extra-point attempts.
• The Brownwood, Texas, product has made 25-of-26 (96.2-percent) of his career field-goal attempts, putting him atop the K-State career record for field-goal percentage and ranking him first nationally among active kickers in career percentage.
• McCrane is first in both areas by a reasonably wide margin, holding nearly a 5-percent edge over Oregon’s Aidan Schneider in the national category and a 16.6-percent advantage over Jamie Rheem (1996-97, 1999-2000) in K-State’s career category.
• Additionally, McCrane needs to make his first field goal in 2016 to tie the Kansas State career record for consecutive field goals made, while he is three field goals shy of entering the school’s career top-10 list.
WALSH READY TO TAKE ANOTHER STEP
• Nick Walsh has established himself as one of the top punters in the Big 12 and will use his last two seasons of eligibility trying to prove he is the best in the league.
• As a sophomore, the former walk-on earned Honorable Mention All-Big 12 accolades from the league’s coaches after ranking third in the conference with a 41.6-yard average.
• Walsh, who is on the 2016 preseason watch list for the Ray Guy Award, had 15 punts in 2015 land inside the opponent’s 20-yard line and booted 10 punts of 50 or more yards.
• The Lyndon, Kansas, product now ranks sixth in school history with a 41.48-yard average in his career.