2022 Kansas St. Wildcats Preview

by Matt Fargo

Kansas St. Wildcats

2021-22 Season Record 7-5 (4-5 Big 12) - 7-5-1 ATS - 6-7-0 O/U

Returning Starters

Offense - 7
Defense - 7

Overview

After an eight-game bowl streak came to an end in 2018 under the second stint for Bill Snyder as the Kansas St. head coach, he retired again and the Wildcats brought in Chris Klieman to take over the program and he has put together two 8-5 seasons to go along with the 4-6 COVID-shortened season. This team was consistently dominant throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s then things started going south until a pair of double-digit win seasons in 2011 and 2012 but it has leveled out to being good but not great. The offense has been stuck in neutral for years and they are hoping that changes this season while continuing to rely on a strong defense that has been the trademark for decades with a couple exceptions along the way. Kansas St. has not been final ranked since 2014 and has not won an outright Big 12 Championship since 2003 and it is hoping the fourth year in this system can get it back to the top.

Offense

The offense averaged 354.8 ypg which was just No. 101 in the country as both running and passing were inconsistent which resulted in some good efforts but also some very bad ones. The Wildcats averaged only 285.7 ypg over their final three regular season games and while they exploded against LSU, the Tigers were depleted on defense. There was very average play at quarterback and they brought in Adrian Martinez from Nebraska where he put up solid numbers but also brings that inconsistency tab along. He is a duel threat which should fit nicely here and he has the pieces around him to succeed. Leading rusher Deuce Vaughn is back following a spectacular season with 1,404 yards and 18 touchdowns but there needs to be an uptick at wide receiver as Vaughn led the team in catches and no receiver had more than 474 yards. The offensive line has only two starters back but has time to come together early on.

Defense

Kansas St. relied on its defense to keep things close last season as it finished No. 37 overall and No. 29 in scoring, giving up just 21.1 ppg and it was a huge turnaround from the 2020 season. Seven starters are also back on this unit and the linebackers will once again pave the way. Daniel Green led the team with 83 tackles and he returns to lead a veteran group that is also getting a game ready transfer from Nebraska. The Wildcats were strongest against the run as they allowed only 126.6 ypg on 3.7 ypc and that should not change with a stout defensive line that is buoyed by end Felix Anudike-Uzomah who caused plenty of havoc as he led the team in sacks with 11 while forcing six fumbles. The passing defense was ok last season and should improve as Julius Brents and Ekow Boye-Doe are back at the corner positions so safety help is needed and they have take it away more as the nine interceptions were bottom third in the nation.

2022 Season Outlook

It has been a consistent run for Kansas St. over the last nine seasons but it has not been able to take that leap near the top like many other Big 12 teams have. Klieman has done a good job of keeping the Wildcats relevant but more is expected following the legendary years of Snyder. The conference is wide open this season with Kansas St. sitting right in the middle at +1,500 and all it takes is a couple upsets to set the stage and it has a chance early. The Wildcats open with three straight home games against South Dakota, Missouri and Tulane so they should be 3-0 heading into their Big 12 opener at Oklahoma. That is one of five conference road games with West Virginia being the easiest so yes, there needs to be upsets to make it special. The O/U win total is 6.5 and there are five home games they will be favored in with the other two coming against Oklahoma St. and Texas which are late in the season and could mean a lot. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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