Wildcats Open 2012 with Matchup against Missouri State

Bill Snyder will begin his 21st season at K-State on Saturday

Aug. 26, 2012

Game Notes: Missouri State Get Acrobat Reader

Game 1
Missouri State at No. 21/22 Kansas State
Date: Saturday, September 1, 2012
Kickoff: 6:10 p.m.
Location: Manhattan, Kan.
Stadium: Bill Snyder Family Stadium (50,000)
Series: K-State leads, 2-0
TV: K-StateHD.TV
Radio: K-State Sports Network; k-statesports.com; SIRIUS Satellite Radio Ch. 106
   Wyatt Thompson (Play-by-Play) 
   Stan Weber (Analyst)
   Matt Walters (Sideline Reporter)
Twitter Updates: @kstatesports and @kstate_gameday
Live Blog: k-statesports.com
Tickets: Sold Out

Following a 10-3 season that saw Kansas State emerge from being predicted to place eighth in the Big 12 to finishing No. 8 nationally, the Wildcats open the 2012 campaign on Saturday with a matchup with Missouri State. Kickoff for the fourth-annual K-State Family Reunion is slated for 6:10 p.m., at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game can be seen online through Kansas State's exclusive, high-definition digital network, K-StateHD.TV, with audio from the K-State Sports Network. A free live audio broadcast is also available on www.k-statesports.com and on SIRIUS satellite radio channel 106. Wyatt Thompson will call the action with Stan Weber providing color analysis and Matt Walters giving sideline updates. Additionally, a live pregame show - K-State Gameday - will begin at 5:15 p.m., on K-StateHD.TV. The show is hosted by Brian Smoller and former Wildcat great and 2012 College Football Hall of Fame inductee Mark Simoneau.

Live stats are also available through Gametracker, while Twitter updates @kstatesports and @kstate_gameday, and a live in-game blog will all be a part of k-statesports.com's gameday coverage.

K-State officials announced two weeks prior to the game that it was sold out, marking the fourth-straight season that a capacity crowd will be on hand for the season opener.
Entering Bill Snyder's 21st season roaming the sidelines, K-State returns 42 letterwinners and 17 starters, the most since 2006. Of those 17 starters, eight are on offense, six on defense and three are specialists. Pillars to the 2011 season return in QB Collin Klein and LB Arthur Brown, each of whom earned All-America accolades last year and are on numerous award watch lists in 2012. Returning starters joining Klein of the offensive side are Rimington Trophy candidate B.J. Finney, Doak Walker Award candidate John Hubert, as well as receivers Chris Harper and Tyler Lockett, offensive lineman Nick Puetz, tight end Travis Tannahill and fullback Braden Wilson.

Defensively, another awards candidate in Nigel Malone returns at cornerback, along with regular starters in linemen Adam Davis and Vai Lutui, linebacker Tre Walker and safety Ty Zimmerman.

K-State, which boasts one of the nation's best specialty units, returns kicker Anthony Cantele, punter Ryan Doerr and long snapper Marcus Heit. Additionally, Lockett was one of the nation's best return men a year ago as a true freshman.

Kansas State will open its 117th season of college football this weekend against Missouri State and its 17th as a member of the Big 12 Conference. The Wildcats enter the 2012 season with an all-time record of 475-613-41 (.438), with over a third of those wins coming under the watchful eye of head coach Bill Snyder. The Cats have sported a 175-93-1 (.652) mark since 1990 and have appeared in 15 bowl games.

Head coach Bill Snyder has almost always gotten the most out of his teams from the season-opening kickoff as Snyder-led teams are riding a 19-game winning streak in season openers, and the Wildcats will put that streak on the line on Saturday.

The Wildcats have not dropped a season opener under Snyder since his inaugural campaign at K-State in 1989, when the Cats lost to Arizona State, 31-0, at Sun Devil Stadium. Saturday's game marks the 16th season debut under Snyder at the stadium that now bears his name.

K-State has been one of the most dominant teams nationally in terms of non-conference success, especially under head coach Bill Snyder. Since 1990, K-State has won 62 of their 69 (.899) regular season non-conference games under Snyder, while the Wildcats have had perfect regular season non-conference ledgers 13 times in the last 19 years overall. K-State was perfect in the non-conference last season, defeating Eastern Kentucky and Kent State in Manhattan before wrapping up non-conference play with a 28-24 win at Miami. The Cats have been perfect in regular-season non-conference play in each of the last two seasons, the first time they have accomplished the feat since 2001 and 2002. The 2002 season was the final year of a 10-year stretch in which K-State went undefeated in non-conference play during the regular season.


Coming off a 2-9 season, including a 2-6 mark in the Missouri Valley Conference, Missouri State returns many veterans looking to right the ship as the Bears opened fall camp with 22 players who combined to start 151 games last year. Missouri State brings back 32 letterwinners and 14 primary starters - including nine on the defensive side. The Bears' fall camp featured a quarterback competition between returnee Kierra Harris and newcomer Ashton Glaser, a transfer from the University of Missouri. Four linemen and the team's starting tight end returns, but MSU must replace its running back as only 12 percent of its rushing yards from last season are back. Defensively, nine starters from 2011 are back, including 2011 conference all-newcomer team selection Andrew Beisel at inside linebacker and a pair of seniors at outside linebacker. Although Missouri State had quality return games last season, the Bears are replacing their long snapper and punter, while kicker Austin Witmer is back for his junior season.

Head coach Bill Snyder picked up the 150th victory of his career in last year's season opener, joining Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina), Mack Brown (Texas) and Gary Pinkel (Missouri) as active coaches with 150 wins at BCS schools.

After guiding K-State from 1989 to 2005, and again over the last three seasons, Snyder is also one of the longest-tenured active coaches in the FBS. The Wildcat head coach ranks fourth among active coaches behind Nevada's Chris Ault (28th), Beamer (26th) and Troy's Larry Blakeney (22nd). Even more impressive is that Snyder is the lone BCS coach who has served at the same school for at least 20 years and has never held the same position at another school.

Additionally, Snyder has tallied the fourth-most victories among active coaches since 1990 with 158 despite a three-year hiatus from 2006-2008.

Kansas State has had success coming off bowl seasons, most notably under head coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats had played in 14 bowl games in program history prior to last year, and Kansas State has followed a bowl season with another postseason berth on 11 occasions, each coming under Snyder. The only three times K-State had a losing season following a bowl trip occurred in 1983 (3-8) after the 1982 Independence Bowl, in 2004 after the Fiesta Bowl (4-7) and in 2007 (5-7) after the 2006 Texas Bowl. K-State will be looking to make its third-straight bowl appearance since the end of an 11-year bowl stretch in 2003.

Fast home starts have propelled the Wildcats to winning seasons under Bill Snyder. From 1992-2011 under Snyder, K-State is a combined 51-5 (.911) in games played during the month of September. Of the five losses, three came on the road, as the Cats are 41-2 in September home games during that stretch. Last season, the Wildcats were 3-0 in September, including two wins at home and a 28-24 road victory at Miami.

Few teams in college football have taken care of their home field as well as the Wildcats since the start of the 1990 season. Over the past 20 years, K-State is an amazing 117-27-1 (.810) when playing at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, including a 58-24-1 (.705) mark in league games (combined Big 8/12), while the Wildcats are 59-3 (.952) in non-league home games since 1990.

A new tradition was started when head coach Bill Snyder returned for his second tenure roaming the sidelines for the Wildcats as the K-State Family Reunion game was born for the season opener in 2009. The contest against UMass was a huge success as it was the largest crowd in school history for a home opener with 50,750 fans piling into Bill Snyder Family Stadium. That number still ranks in the top 20 in stadium history. Fans also came out in droves the last two seasons as K-State broke the season-opening record again at 51,059 when K-State defeated UCLA, 31-22, in 2010, while another sell-out crowd of 50,292 was at last year's season-opening win against Eastern Kentucky.

Along with the home opener against Missouri State, K-State announced the September 15 contest against North Texas is also sold out. The two sellouts - which marks the first time since the stadium expansion in 1999 that two sellouts were announced prior to the season - are the ninth and 10th at Bill Snyder Family Stadium since the beginning of Bill Snyder's second tenure in 2009.

Kansas State extended one of the nation's longest scoring streaks last season as the Wildcats have now tallied points in 190 consecutive games. The 190-game stretch is the 10th-longest in the nation and the longest in the Big 12. The Wildcats have not been kept off the scoreboard since Colorado shut out K-State, 12-0, on Nov. 16, 1996. The streak includes 124 conference games, 69 true road games and 17 neutral-site contests.

Scoring first has been a big sign of good things to come for the Wildcats. Since 1990, K-State's record when scoring first is very impressive as the Wildcats have gone 133-26 (83.6-percent) when drawing first blood. Last season, K-State was a perfect 5-0 when scoring the game's first points.

There is no better indicator of a Wildcat victory than when K-State leads or is tied at the half. Since 1990, the Cats have protected a halftime lead 97-percent of the time, going 149-5 when leading at the half. Last season, Kansas State went 6-0 when leading at the half.

Kansas State was on the positive side of the ledger in terms of time of possession in 2011, leading the Big 12 and finishing fourth nationally in that department. The Wildcats held the ball for an average of 33:55 per game. K-State was 8-3 in 2011 when controlling the clock and possessing the ball more than its opponent.

K-State's offense and defense was especially good on third down last season as opponents converted just 40 percent of their third downs, while the offense converted 42 percent. A detailed account of K-State's 2011 third down success can be found on page 21.

Not only was Kansas State able to possess the ball and sustain long drives last season, but the offense managed to make the most of those opportunities once it has reached the red zone. Of K-State's 60 trips inside its opponent's 20-yard line, the Wildcats scored on 53 of those trips, with 41 of those being touchdowns. K-State was especially good in the final 10 games of the regular season as the Wildcats were 45-of-50 in the red zone with 38 touchdowns. Additionally, the Cats were 11-for-11 in red zone chances with 10 touchdowns in the final three victories.

K-State's biggest improvement from 2010 to 2011 came on the defensive side of the ball. In 2010, the Wildcats gave up 445.7 total yards per game, which included 231.4 per game on the ground, but last season those numbers dropped to 394.6 overall and an amazing 100-yard drop in rush defense to 131.3. The Wildcats were fourth in the Big 12 in rush defense last year after finishing last in the conference in 2010.

When the Wildcat defense picks off two or more passes, K-State usually comes out with a victory. Over the last 15 contests that the Wildcats have recorded two or more interceptions, Kansas State is 12-3, including victories in 11 of its last 13 games and four in 2011. In last year's season opener against Eastern Kentucky, Nigel Malone picked off a pair of passes to give K-State two interceptions in each of its last three season openers. The Wildcats were second in the Big 12 and tied for 12th nationally last season in interceptions with 18 - the most since the 2003 squad had 20. Individually, Malone led the Big 12 and tied for fourth nationally with seven interceptions.

The rise of K-State football over the last two decades has much to do with the emphasis on special teams. Since 1990, Kansas State is 45-15 when scoring on special teams and 17-1 when scoring on special teams and on defense, including a 15-0 mark under Bill Snyder. And, in non-offensive touchdowns, the Cats have ranked among the nation's best over the past 13 seasons. Since 1999, the Wildcats rank second nationally in non-offensive touchdowns with 81, just one behind national leader Virginia Tech.

K-State had five non-offensive touchdowns last season. Tyler Lockett led the way with a pair of kickoff-return scores, while David Garrett (Kent State), Nigel Malone (Texas Tech) and Allen Chapman (Oklahoma State) each returned interceptions for touchdowns.


A big part of K-State's success last season was attributed to the discipline and fundamentals that head coach Bill Snyder and his coaching staff have instilled in the program. During the Cats' 10-3 season, K-State managed to limit penalties (led the Big 12), possess the ball (ranked fourth nationally), limit turnovers (led the Big 12 in turnovers lost with 15), create turnovers (ranked second in the Big 12 in turnover margin) and make the most of their possessions (30 scoring drives of 60-plus yards and led the nation during the regular season converting touchdowns on first and goal-to-go).

Much has been made about the Wildcats' success last year in the clutch as eight of K-State's 10 wins were decided by seven points or less. It was the most of any school in the country, while the Wildcats eight victories by one score or less were the most ever among BCS AQ schools, topping Washington (2000), Penn State (1985) and Purdue (1979) that had years with seven wins by seven points or less.

Although many don't expect K-State to duplicate the crunch-time success of last year, the 2011 late-game heroics weren't anything new as the Cats are 13-4 in games decided by seven points or less since Bill Snyder's return in 2009. K-State was 3-1 in 2009 and 2-2 in 2010 before going 8-1 in said games last year.

Kansas State enjoyed its best summer ever in terms of watch lists as the Wildcats had a school-record 17 candidates for major college football awards, flying past the old record of 11 set prior to the 1998 season. The 17 candidates were 13th nationally and tied for second in the Big 12 as K-State was only topped by league-favorite Oklahoma (25). Leading the way for the Wildcats was linebacker Arthur Brown, who was named to the watch lists for the Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Walter Camp Award, Lombardi Award and Nagurski Trophy. Quarterback Collin Klein (Manning, Maxwell, O'Brien, Unitas) and defensive back Nigel Malone (Bednarik, Walter Camp, Nagurski, Thorpe) were a close second with four apiece.

Following the 2012 spring game, head coach Bill Snyder named four captains for the 2012 season as Arthur Brown, B.J. Finney, Collin Klein and Ty Zimmerman earned the nod. Additionally, reserve linebacker Jared Loomis was elected the special teams' captain prior to the season.

Klein is a three-time team captain, the first offensive player to be selected three times in the 117-year history of K-State football. Brown is a second-year captain after transferring from Miami prior to the 2010 season. Finney, the youngest offensive player and first non-senior offensive lineman captain since 2002, along with Zimmerman are first-time captains.

First Team All-Big 12 performer Collin Klein used his legs to lead K-State down the field, but he was also able to push the Wildcats into the end zone on a consistent basis. During his breakout season of 2011, Klein set the school record and tied both the Big 12 overall and FBS quarterback record with 27 rushing touchdowns. His 27 rushing scores last year were second nationally, while the school record he broke had stood for 42 years, a mark that was originally set by Mack Herron in 1969.

Paired with his 13 touchdown passes, Klein finished 2011 ranked fifth nationally in touchdown responsibility at 18.46 points per game, while he accounted for 85-percent of the team's offensive touchdowns.

With his stellar 2011 campaign, Collin Klein can lay claim to a feat that had only been accomplished by former Heisman Trophy winners. The Wildcat signal caller is one of just four players from all BCS AQ schools in the BCS era to record 20 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing scores the same season. The other three were Cam Newton (Auburn, 2010), Tim Tebow (Florida, 2007) and Eric Crouch (Nebraska, 2000).

Although much was made about his record-setting season in touchdowns, the tough and determined Collin Klein tops the school record chart in another rushing category - attempts. Klein finished third nationally in rushing attempts, while he was the top quarterback and finished with an astonishing 75 more attempts than the second quarterback on the list (Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech).

Taking a further look into the past, Klein's 317 rushing attempts last season were the most nationally by a quarterback since at least 1999, while he was just the second signal caller since 1999 to top 300 carries as Navy's Ricky Dobbs ran 315 times in 2009.

Collin Klein's rushing abilities speak for themselves, but the Loveland, Colo., product rapidly progressed in the passing game over the final few games of the regular season. In the first eight games of 2011, Klein averaged 124 passing yards on 11.25 completions per game, but upped his production to 183.8 yards on 24.3 completions in games against Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas and Iowa State.

After winning a position battle prior to the 2011 campaign, John Hubert became K-State's primary running back and was a nice compliment in the rushing attack to quarterback Collin Klein. Hubert finished his sophomore campaign with 970 yards to rank seventh in the Big 12, while he teamed with Klein to five K-State the only team in the conference with two rushers in the top 10 of the Big 12 rankings. Hubert, who enters the 2012 season as the Wildcats' top back, is just two yards away from becoming K-State's 25th career 1,000-yard rusher.

Wide receiver Chris Harper hauled in just 10 receptions in his first 10 games as a Wildcat, but the former Oregon transfer has drastically improved over the last 16 contests to become Collin Klein's go-to target. Over his last 16 games as a Wildcat, Harper has caught 51 passes for 703 yards and eight touchdowns after accumulating only 174 yards and one score in his first 10 games.

K-State had a pair of Freshman All-Americans two years ago in Tre Walker and Ty Zimmerman, and each produced better numbers in their sophomore campaigns. This season, two more Wildcats - center B.J. Finney and receiver/kick returner Tyler Lockett - are looking to repeat the success they enjoyed in 2011. Finney started all 13 games, including the final 12 at center, while Lockett set the K-State record with a 35.2-yard kickoff return average and was named the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.

After having to sit out the 2010 season due to transfer rules, linebacker Arthur Brown burst onto the K-State scene last season by leading the Wildcats with 101 tackles, the first K-State player to top the 100-tackle mark since 2006. The 2011 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year and a First Team All-Big 12 performer, Brown finished eighth in the Big 12 in total tackles, while he also produced several big plays throughout the season. Perhaps his biggest play as a Wildcat came against No. 15 Baylor when he picked off eventual Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III - the first by the Bear quarterback of the year and his only second-half pick of 2011 - to set up the eventual game-winning field goal.

Nigel Malone, a Second Team Walter Camp All-American and First Team All-Big 12 performer, made an instant impact on defense last year with seven interceptions and 17 passes defended. The first Wildcat to be named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award since Terence Newman in 2002, Malone paced the Big 12 and tied for fourth nationally in interceptions. That mark was second in K-State history and was the most ever by a Wildcat newcomer. For his efforts a year ago, Malone was named to the 2012 preseason watch lists for the Bednarik, Walter Camp, Nagurski and Thorpe awards.

Former junior-college players Meshak Williams and Adam Davis were disruptive to opposing offenses throughout 2011 as the duo combined for 18 of the Wildcats' 63 tackles for loss and 11 of K-State's 23 sacks. Williams led the Wildcats in both departments with 10 and seven, respectively, while he finished sixth in the Big 12 in sacks. The Sylvester, Ga., product did not start a game last season but will be relied upon to serve as a starter in 2012.

Davis, who did start each game last season, only had three tackles for loss and did not produce a sack in the first 10 games of 2011, but the Folkston, Ga., product came on towards the end of the season. All Davis did in the final three games was tally five tackles for loss and four sacks, including a three-TFL, two-sack effort against Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

Kansas State has the benefit in 2012 to have veterans at both place kicker and punter in seniors Anthony Cantele and Ryan Doerr. Cantele, who started his collegiate career as a soccer player at Missouri State, was true on 17 field goals last year to tie for fifth in school history, while he also placed seventh in single-season extra points with 48. The Wichita, Kan., product enters his senior year 10th in school history with 18 career field goals.

Doerr, K-State's primary punter since 2009, could challenge for K-State career records this year as he enters his senior campaign sixth in career yardage at 2,733 and eighth in average at 41.1.