August 24, 2007

Can the defense lead the way?

It's clear Kansas State's offense has the potential to do big things, but there are enough questions on that side of the ball that it's entirely possible the Wildcats will need their defense to carry the load early on. Ian Campbell and company appear capable of doing so, but even the returning All-Big 12 pick has something to prove in 2007.

What will K-State do at nose tackle?
There's no denying the fact that the loss of Alphonso Moran hurts this position. At 6-foot and 296 pounds Moran didn't necessarily have prototypical size for a 3-4 tackle, but he was bigger than Brandon Balkcom (266 pounds) and Gabriel Crews (286). He was listed at the same weight as Steven Cline but didn't quite have the mass of true freshman Xzavier Stewart (304).

Size numbers aside, none of those candidates mentioned possess the quickness of Moran, who appeared in 23 games over the last two seasons with 11 starts. He was heavily reported as the odds-on-favorite to be the starting nose tackle, and now K-State must replace him.

Look for the Wildcats to turn to Cline first. The 6-foot-2 senior has seen plenty of action during his career in Manhattan and started seven times last season. He's got a good motor and will do everything he can to help keep K-State from being overpowered at the line of scrimmage. Balkcom may work at both tackle and end, and Stewart is now almost certain to see some time as a true freshman.

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