MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State opens a season that will be unlike any other in recent memory as the Wildcats host Arkansas State (0-1) at 2:30 p.m., on Saturday inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
A LOOK AT K-STATE
• K-State boasts 47 returning letterwinners – including 12 starters – from a year ago that ended with an 8-5 record and an appearance in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
• Head coach Chris Klieman enters his second season at the helm of the Wildcats and is flanked by nine of 10 returning assistant coaches from a year ago.
• Safeties coach Joe Klanderman takes over as defensive coordinator, while cornerbacks coach Van Malone added the title of Assistant Head Coach. Steve Stanard arrived from Syracuse in the offseason to tutor the linebackers.
• Senior quarterback Skylar Thompson returns with 27 career starts under his belt. He is one of just four quarterbacks in school history to throw for 4,000 career yards and rush for 1,000 career yards, but he is the only one to do so prior to entering his senior campaign.
• Thompson will be behind an offensive line two-deep that only has a combined 31 games played and three starts in their careers as the Wildcats break in a new unit.
• At receiver, seven of the top nine pass catchers from a year ago are back, including sophomore Malik Knowles, who ranked second on the team in catches, yards and TDs.
• Defensively, Hubert leads the charge on the line as he has 11.5 career sacks, and he is joined on the front line by fellow junior Eli Huggins (DT) and a pair of seniors in Drew Wiley (DT) and Bronson Massie (DE).
• Linebacker returns the team's leading tackler from a year ago in Elijah Sullivan, while Justin Hughes – who was slated to start last season prior to an injury suffered in spring practices – is back.
• Place kicker Blake Lynch enters his senior season as the school's record holder for career field goal percentage (89.2%), but the full-time punting position from last year must be replaced.
• Sophomore Joshua Youngblood is also back after returning three kickoffs for touchdowns last year en route to Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year honors as well as All-America accolades.
A LOOK AT ARKANSAS STATE
• Arkansas State is 0-1 on the year after a 37-24 setback at Memphis last Saturday.
• The teams traded touchdowns throughout most of the first half, but Memphis scored with 24 seconds left before halftime to kick start the Tigers on a 23-10 run for the remainder of the game.
• Memphis gained 502 total yards, which included 227 on the ground, while Arkansas State totaled 424 yards with over 70% of that (299 yards) coming via the air.
• Arkansas State is one of nine teams in the country that has 12 games scheduled for the fall. Following this weekend's game against K-State, the Red Wolves host Central Arkansas and Tulsa the next two weekends prior to their eight-game Sun Belt schedule beginning on October 3.
• Layne Hatcher starting most of the Red Wolves' games a year ago under center, connecting on 204-of-310 passes for 2,946 yards and 27 touchdowns. He finished last week's game at Memphis with 166 yards, while Logan Bonner started the game and threw for 133 yards and a touchdown but had two interceptions.
• Marcel Murray was A-State's leading returning rusher entering the season, gaining 820 yards on 170 carries with six touchdowns last year.
• A-State's leading returning tackler from a year ago was Caleb Bonner with 65, while Forrest Merrill was the leading returner in sacks with 3.5.
The game can be heard on 107.9 FM / 1420 KJCK Saturday.