Any discussion about the 2022 Kansas State football team will start with dynamic running back Deuce Vaughn. The offense will certainly be built around him once again.
The arrival of former Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez should help boost an offense that finished ninth of 10 Big 12 Conference teams in yards per game a season ago. Sack leader Felix Anudike-Uzomah and leading tackler Daniel Green are back to lead the defense but many of the other key contributors are gone from that side of the ball.
Four of the first five games of the season are at home for the Wildcats. The lone exception is a huge early test against Big 12 favorite Oklahoma.
The college football odds list Kansas State at +25000 to win the national title.
Kansas State Wildcats
2021 record: 8-5
2021 conference record: 4-5
Head coach: Chris Klieman
While other running backs have higher national profiles than Vaughn, that could certainly change in 2022. He ran for 1,404 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. He also led the Wildcats with 49 receptions. The Las Vegas odds lists Vaughn (+10000) among the top 10 running backs in the Heisman Trophy odds after finishing fifth in the country in yards from scrimmage a season ago.
3️⃣ Cats named to @philsteele042 2022 Preseason All-America teams
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) June 21, 2022
Three of the five starting offensive linemen are gone so that is an area of concern. Cooper Beebe and Christian Duffie do return to lead the way for Vaughn.
Martinez put up pretty good numbers as a four-year starting quarterback at Nebraska with 8,491 passing yards. 2,301 rushing yards and 80 combined touchdowns. However, a closer examination of his numbers show an 0-14 record against ranked teams with 10 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions in those contests.
Will Howard isn’t going to give up the quarterback job without a fight. He threw for 243 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a win over rival Kansas in 2020 and he also provides a running threat.
Along with Vaughn, the Wildcats return top receivers Phillip Brooks (team-high 543 yards on 43 catches) and Malik Knowles (29 catches, 441 yards, four touchdowns in 2021). Brooks and Knowles were also key contributors in the special teams return game. Kade Warner and Sammy Wheeler are also back after combining for 29 catches. Former Ole Miss receiver Jadon Jackson is another pass-catching target.
Leading tackler Daniel Green returns as does Felix Anudike-Uzomah, who burst onto the scene to record 14½ tackles for loss and 11 sacks in 2021. Defensive backs Julius Brents and T.J. Smith are other key returnees.
The Wildcats gave up the second-fewest plays from scrimmage of 30 yards or more. Quite a few key contributors are gone from that unit so it could be a bit of a work in progress.
The defense figures to be aided by the arrival of former Nebraska linebacker Will Honas, who had 129 tackles and four sacks during the 2019 and 2020 seasons before missing last season.
Defensive back Shawn Robinson could be one of the more interesting stories in the conference. He began his career in the Big 12 as a quarterback at Texas Christian. Robinson passed for 1,334 yards and ran for 230 more in 2018. After a year at Missouri, he is now at Kansas State. Cornerbacks Javione Carr and Joshua Hayes come in from Arizona and Virginia.
2022 Kansas State Outlook
It is hard to know what to expect from Kansas State in 2022. The Wildcats relied on their defense to keep them in games last season and there are some holes to fill on that side of the ball.
If Martinez shakes off some of his inconsistent play that held him back during his time at Nebraska, the Wildcats might be able to do more on offense than just hand the ball off to Vaughn.
Games against South Dakota, Missouri and Tulane are a pretty good way to kick off the 2022 season. Things get real after that with a showdown with preseason favorite Oklahoma in the conference opener. Back-to-back games in November against Texas and Baylor won’t exactly be a walk in the park.
The college football picks have Kansas State (-145) favored to go over its 6½-game expected regular-season win total. The Wildcats ended the 2021 season with an impressive bowl win over LSU. They were 4-2 straight up and against the spread in the final six games of the season and will look to carry that momentum into the 2022 season.
2022 Kansas State Schedule
- Sept. 3 vs South Dakota
- Sept. 10 vs Missouri
- Sept. 17 Tulane
- Sept. 24 at Oklahoma
- Oct. 1 vs Texas Tech
- Oct. 8 at Iowa State
- Oct. 22 at Texas Christian
- Oct. 29 vs Oklahoma State
- Nov. 5 vs Texas
- Nov. 12 at Baylor
- Nov. 19 at West Virginia
- Nov. 26 vs Kansas