For every Kansas State football fan out there the long wait from the Cotton Bowl to the 2012 home opener is just about over. On Saturday night the Wildcats take on the Terry Allen-led Missouri State Bears at 6:00 P.M. in a game that many expect to get out of hand early unlike last season's opener.
While it is true that K-State returns a plethora of starters from last year's squad that will instantly be recognizable there are always new players to watch and evaluate. With the proliferation of recruiting websites and message boards it is quite likely that almost every person in the stadium will have at the very least heard the names of the new players in the program. In addition to the new players, there will be some kids who have made position changes from last year in search of playing time and others that simply have made a move up the depth chart.
The home opener against a supposedly lesser foe gives the fans an opportunity to come out and see their team for the first time while likely getting to revel in an easy victory. For the coaches it allows them to hopefully get a lot of players up and down the depth chart into the game to get some action.
The most obvious players that fans will be coming out to see for K-State are stars like Arthur Brown and Heisman dark-horse Collin Klein but they should keep their eyes on some lesser known guys as well.
So which players might be the most intriguing to watch on Saturday?
•1. Daniel Sams - Quarterback
With the departure of Tavarius Bender from the K-State program, the backup quarterback position would presumably be Sams job to lose. Even though Bill Snyder has mentioned Sam Johnson in his press conferences as competing with Sams to be the primary backup, K-State fans should hope that if Klein's day is a short one that Sams will be the first quarterback coming in to replace him.
So why is Sams number one on the list of players most wanting to see? With the amount of running that Collin Klein does and the punishment he must absorb it is not a stretch to think that Sams may have to play a few important snaps during the season. It would go a long ways to making everyone feel more at ease if he can come out and do some nice things against the Bears. If he struggles or is not the first backup coming into the game, Wildcat fans may have to worry every time they see Klein take a hit this season.
•2. Justin Tuggle - Linebacker
The former back-up to Klein is now in a dog fight at linebacker with Jarell Childs for the privilege of starting next to Brown and Tre Walker. It is not a secret that the schedule this year for K-State is a brutal one and the team needs their defense to take a step up if they hope to achieve the same levels of success and that is why the progression of Tuggle is so interesting.
Listed at 6'3 227lbs, it is obvious that Tuggle is an extremely talented athlete to be able and move from quarterback to linebacker before his senior season and to be competing for a starting role. If he shows on Saturday the ability to make reads on the defense while playing at full speed it could be a sign that the Wildcat defense has found another playmaker which they need.
•3. Cornelius Lucas, Cody Whitehair and Keenan Taylor - Offensive Lineman
For the average person sitting in the stands or watching at home it definitely is hard to fully evaluate how well the offensive line is playing. Most everyone knows some form of the cliché that states something to the effect of that you never hear or notice offensive lineman unless they do something wrong.
Well for K-State fans on Saturday they may want to make a concerted effort to follow the big boys in the trenches on a few plays and see how they are looking. The three new starters by most everyone's views hold the key to K-State's season in their hands so how they ultimately gel as a unit with returning starters Nick Puetz and B.J. Finney begins against Missouri State.