Schedule: Kansas State opened spring practice on Wednesday with the first of 15 workouts, concluding with the annual spring game set for April 30.
What’s new: Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh came under fire after the Wildcats' defense struggled for most of 2010, ranking 11th in the Big 12 and 106th nationally in total defense. Coach Bill Snyder kept Cosh, however, and added his son, Sean Snyder, as the special teams coordinator and associate head coach. Snyder, a former K-State punter, had previously served only as director of football operations. The Wildcats also added Tom Hayes as secondary coach, replacing Keith Burns.
On the mend: None are more notable than receivers Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson. Smith sufffered a broken leg late in the loss to Nebraska and missed the rest of the season. Thompson, a shifty 5-foot-7, 165-pounder, also suffered a leg injury late in the season. The pair should be among K-State's leading receivers in 2011.
Key battle: Quarterback. All three springs in Bill Snyder's second term will have featured quarterback competitions. This time around, the key characters include Collin Klein, Sammuel Lamur and incoming transfer Justin Tuggle, who previously started at Boston College. Quarterback play has been a problem for Kansas State since Josh Freeman took his talents to the NFL, and to compete in the Big 12, the play simply has to be better.
Key battle II: Defensive line. Prizell Brown and Antonio Felder are both gone and must be replaced. All of Kansas State's top five recruits from the 2011 class were defensive linemen, and it's likely that at least a couple will start or find their way into the rotation.
Breaking out: Defensive back David Garrett. One of the bright spots of a struggling defense last year, Garrett led the team with 92 tackles and had 15 tackles for loss, which ranked fourth in the Big 12. He broke up nine passes, made three sacks and intercepted a pass. He somehow managed to be left out of the coaches' All-Big 12 team, but he should make plenty of offenses sit up and take notice this year.
Don’t forget about: Defensive end Brandon Harold. He had a quiet season in 2010, making just two sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss as a sophomore. His talent was clear in his freshman season, though, when he had three sacks and 10.5 tackles for loss. He's still a solid end, and could be due for a big year in 2011.
All eyes on: The Brown Brothers. The Wichita natives will be the story of the spring and, perhaps, the story of the 2011 season. On paper, both sound like possible program changers. Former five-star recruits, both signed with major programs out of high school. Bryce Brown, the running back, headed to Tennessee in 2009 and linebacker Arthur Brown went to Miami in 2008. Neither ended up being serious contributors, however, despite the talent showcased in high school. Now, they're back closer to home and hopeful that they'll be integral pieces of the Wildcats' offense and defense.