September 12, 2008

K-State earning solid grades so far

Two games into the 2008 season, it's fair to say the Kansas State Wildcats are improved but remain untested. Easy victories over lesser competition has shown that these Wildcats refuse to play down to their competition and while there are many positive signs as Coach Ron Prince's Cats ready to play at Louisville on Sept. 17, the report card isn't exactly filled with A's for this team.

As the Wildcats prepare for not only their first road test of the season, but also their first significant opponent on their schedule, let's take a look at the grades each position group has earned through two games.

There has been no brighter spot on this team than the play of junior quarterback Josh Freeman. It can be argued that Freeman is playing as well as any college quarterback in the land. His passes have been on target, his decision-making sound and his numbers, well, awesome. In fact, the numbers tell the story best: Pass efficiency rating, 209.29; completion percentage, 75.6; yardage, 520; TDs vs. Ints., 5-0.

Stunning, particularly when one considers Freeman has played roughly five out of the team's eight quarters so far.

But there's always room for improvement, and if there is a concern, it is that backup Carson Coffman does not appear prepared to come in if something happens to Freeman. Of course, that may be part of the reason why Freeman hasn't finished the third quarter in either game before turning over the reigns to Coffman.

There's good news in the fact that redshirt freshman Justin Woods has elevated himself enough on the depth chart to be mentioned with junior college transfer Keithen Valentine and true freshman Logan Dold. Now the Wildcats can boast of six Division I games of experience at the running back spot. (Uhm, that's three players times the two games the Wildcats have played.)

At times the Wildcats have looked exactly like a team that came into the season with zero major college playing experience at running back. Experience will come, but the Wildcats will always be a bit too green at running back.

Yes, the Wildcats will get better at running back and the sooner one of the three emerges from the pack the better, but running back productivity likely will never be anything more than solid for the 2008 Wildcats. The key for this group is to do all the little things right and don't make costly mistakes.

No one is ready to say, "Jordy Nelson who?" in these parts, but if outsiders thought the receiver position was a big question mark coming into the season, this group of pass catchers has certainly settled the argument just two games into the season.

With a corps of five main receivers, the Wildcats have speed, size and pass-catching skill at the position. It seems obvious that the Wildcats will not miss a beat in this area even with their former All-American now in the NFL. The best two may be juco transfers, with tiny Brandon Banks and reliable Aubrey Quarles quickly settling into big roles.

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