After a legend like Bill Snyder leaves your program, it can be tough to get back to where you were under them, but Kansas State brought in one of the best possible hires on the market in North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman, who succeeded the best coach in that program’s history, Craig Bohl.
The Wildcats missed a bowl for the first time in nearly a decade last year, but there is enough talent back for Klieman to start a streak of his own as early as year one.
On offense, Klieman brought in former Iowa State and North Dakota State OC Courtney Messingham. Dual-threat junior QB Skylar Thompson returns after an up and down year, and the Wildcats added a pair of transfers at the running back spot in Jordon Brown (North Carolina) and James Gilbert (Ball State).
In the receiving corps, just one of the top four is back, senior Dalton Schoen (520 yards, 16.2 YPC, two touchdowns). Although Kansas State certainly was not a pass-first team last season, they’ll need more than one reliable target to achieve success in 2019.
On the line, three starters are back, but after they struggled in 2018 and lose some key pieces this year, I’m unsure if Klieman will have a reliable offense to lean on in year one.
On defense, the new head guy is Scottie Hazelton, who previously held the DC role at NDSU and Wyoming under Craig Bohl. While the offense may be hit or miss, I think the defense will be rock solid, as they bring back eight starters including maybe the best defensive line in the Big 12, with six guys with significant starting experience back in a group led by the deadly duo at end of Reggie Walker and Wyatt Hubert (combined 12 sacks, nine TFL).
The secondary will be led by junior corner AJ Parker (six PBUs, two interceptions last year), but there is some inexperience at the safety spot, where redshirt freshman Wayne Jones or JUCO Jonathan Alexander may have to start. All in all, I like the coordinator hire and this should be an improved defense.
The defense is one of the best in the conference, so if the offense can improve, this team has a great shot at getting back to a bowl despite the loss of their hall of fame head coach. They’d likely need four wins in conference play, and I think the Wildcats have a good shot at hitting that mark.
|Date||Opponent||OPp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|14-Sep||at mississippi state||13||-12.7|
|28-Sep||at Oklahoma state||26||-7.6|
|23-Nov||at texas tech||60||-2.3|
Average Projected Record: 5.7 wins, 6.3 losses (3.7 wins, 5.3 losses)