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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Stevenson: K-State football has some holes

  • In a few short weeks, Big 12 football teams will begin practice for the 2013 season.
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  • In a few short weeks, Big 12 football teams will begin practice for the 2013 season.
    Kansas State is defending co-champion with Oklahoma and, as usual, the Wildcats are not highly rated for the upcoming season. Athlon Sports’ Magazine picks K-State fifth in the Big 12 - following Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas, and TCU.
    This early rankings won’t concern legendary coach Bill Snyder; he’s endured much worse during his storied career as the Wildcats’ coach. This time, however, the modest ranking may be justified.
    Kansas State looks formidable on offense, but the defense lost nine talented starters off last season’s championship team.
    Numerous so-called experts in the media have determined that K-State’s most pressing problem will be their defensive line; that’s not necessarily true. Senior safety Ty Zimmerman is the only returning starter from the defensive backfield.
    Zimmerman was selected by Athlon on the first team of their preseason All-Big 12 team and he deserves that honor.
    Except for Zimmerman, the defensive backfield will be players with little or no experience. That’s not good in the pass-happy Big 12. But over the years, Snyder’s defenses have more than held their own against opposing Big 12 teams.
    This will be Snyder’s fifth year back after coming out of his short-lived retirement and he has K-State’s program up and running again.
    After spring practice, Snyder said, “This group really does not understand what they are capable of. Like so many, we think we are doing the best that we can when indeed there is more there. I think they have placed some limitations on what they are capable of and those limitations should not be there.”
    That’s vintage Bill Snyder.
    Snyder lost all his starters from last year’s defensive line, but don’t expect the Wildcats to be overly vulnerable against the run. Coach Snyder will have some players who aren’t well-known that are eager for their chance to play on K-State’s defensive line.
    And it’s almost a certainty that one or more of them will end up on an NFL team.
    The linebackers will also be new, but there is some experience among that group. Seniors Blake Slaughter and Tre Walker have played extensively and well for K-State during their careers.
    K-State’s offense will be among the best in the Big 12, the offensive line returns intact along with a number of talented and experienced receivers. And John Hubert returns at running back.
    Junior center B.J. Finney and senior left tackle Cornelius Lucas have NFL talent and size; they will anchor a deep and experienced OL that was among the best in the Big 12 last season.
    Page 2 of 2 - Either sophomore Daniel Sams or JUCO transfer Jake Waters will be the starting quarterback. Sams and Waters possess exceptional athletic ability and, with the supporting cast on hand, the winner of the QB competition could be one of the surprise players in the nation.
    Coach Snyder has justifiably become a legend in his own time, but no one keeps getting better year after year.
    Kansas State will have a competitive and entertaining football team this fall, but that fifth place rating in the Big 12 may not be too far off.  But Snyder could once again make the prognosticators look like fools.
    *   *   *   *   *
    The Kansas City Royals aren’t out of the race for the American League Central title, but with every passing day their pennant hopes decline.
    KC’s pitching is greatly improved compared to the 2012 team and their fielding has been effective and spectacular at times. Hitting has been KC’s Achilles’ heel.
    Before the season started, Billy Butler, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas were being counted on to supply consistency and power at the plate. All three have disappointed Kansas City’s fans, with Moustakas and Butler being particularly inept.
     Kansas City ranks 13th out of the 15 American League teams in overall hitting statistics. Through July 12 KC had the fewest (60) home runs of any team in the AL; Minnesota is second worst with 85 homers.
    As for RBIs, KC has 342 while only Houston and Chicago are worse with 329 and 326. The Royals’ team batting average is third from the bottom at .256. Those are discouraging numbers.
    It’s becoming painfully obvious that the experiment of bringing in George Brett as the hitting coach is not having the desired effect. KC’s dismal hitting is a mystery; they not only lack power, the Royals are substandard in every aspect of major league hitting.
    If nothing else KC should have an occasional game with hot bats; however, that has been a rare occurrence indeed.
    Wait ‘til next year!

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