Welcome Wildcat fans! It’s officially game day! Every Friday before a Kansas State University football game match up, I welcome you to check my new column, “A Summers’ View.” I will preview the upcoming match up and hit my key position match up for the week. The first installment starts this week, with the receivers.
After months and months of anticipation of who the Wildcats starting quarterback would be, Bill Snyder made the announcement this past week that Jake Waters would start tonight. Waters, a Junior College transfer standout from Iowa Western, narrowly beat out returning speedster Daniel Sams. With all the talk about how pure of a passer the Cats got with Waters, one thing that ultimately determines his success is his receiving corps.
Most view the Wildcats receivers as one of its strengths. I tend to agree. Returning to the team this season are burners Tramaine Thompson (senior) and Tyler Lockett (junior). Both of these men present speed that any defense fears. Last season Thompson and Lockett put up big numbers as deep threats, with 526 and 687 yards and 4 TD’s a piece.
But something lost in the shuffle of the quarterback battle, is also the loss of Chris Harper. The current Seattle Seahawk was the team’s leading receiver last season and best pure possession receiver. Harper led the team in receptions (57) and yards (848). The team valued Harper tremendously, partly due to some of Collin Klein’s limitations at the quarterback position. Who can step up to give Waters the safety valve the team will need?
Undersized junior Curry Sexton, 6-2 senior Torell Miller, and 6-2 red-shirt freshmen Deante Burton will be looked upon to fill roles in the Cats offense. With Waters running the show, I expect the Cats to pass more then previous Snyder teams. Sexton, who is roommates with Waters, has helped Waters learn the offense. I expect Sexton to play a bigger part of the receiving game this season, if he can stay healthy. Miller, who started one game last season, will also get more reps then the previous season, and fits the build of that possession receiver I talked about earlier. The former defensive back should have the build 6-2 and 216 pounds, to fit into the system and play along with the speed receivers already mentioned. Burton, a hometown standout in high school, shares many similar characteristics as Miller. Both have similar build (Burton weights 10 pounds less then Miller at 206) and Burton also played defensive back previously. Burton was a key contributor last season on the scout team, and is hoping to contribute for the Wildcats. We will just have to wait and see.
So here we come across the match up this evening against the North Dakota State Bison. The Bison are the two-time defending FCS National Champions so they should not be taken lightly, (see Appalachian State vs. Michigan a few years back) but the Wildcats should be able to win this game by double digits. I expect Snyder to dummy down the offense some to save a few things for Big 12 play. I do believe he will let Waters throw the ball though, testing his new signal caller. This is where I want to see the receiver’s’ abilities come in effect. The natural abilities of the receivers and Waters accuracy and timing will be worth watching as the team gears up for Big 12 play. Against FCS competition, Lockett and Thompson should enjoy some success, who else steps up? Do we see someone make key catches in 3rd & long situations? All things to analyze while we jump into what is hopefully another successful Wildcats football season!