This week, we're breaking down the five big questions lingering for each Big 12 program heading into the season. We continue with the Kansas State Wildcats:
Can Jesse Ertz solidify the Wildcats at QB?
The Wildcats haven't named a starting quarterback yet, but all signs point to Ertz winning the job. The sophomore has reportedly been getting the majority of first-team snaps in recent practices, ahead of Joe Hubener, Alex Delton and Jonathan Banks. Ertz has never attempted a pass in his college career. And he has some huge shoes to fill in replacing Jake Waters, K-State's single-season passing record holder. To exceed preseason expectations yet again, the Wildcats will need Ertz to bring a steady presence to a revamped offense.
Who will take over as the go-to WR?
Not only did the Wildcats graduate Waters, they graduated the school's all-time leading receiver in Tyler Lockett, now with the Seattle Seahawks. No one player on the roster will be able to replicate Lockett's production. But with 1,000-yard receiver Curry Sexton also gone, the Wildcats will need someone to emerge as a go-to receiver for Ertz. Kody Cook, Kyle Klein and Stanton Weber will get their chances, but Deante Burton could be the best bet to fill such a role after flanking Lockett and Sexton as K-State's third starting receiver last season.
Is Elijah Lee ready to become elite?
Coach Bill Snyder doesn't have a reputation for playing true freshmen. But as a first-year player, Lee forced his way onto the field last season as a pass rushing specialist. Now as one of the top returning sophomore defenders in the league, Lee will be counted on to fill a bigger role. If he turns into a dominant force, the Wildcats could in turn boast one of the top defenses in the league.
Can the secondary dominate?
With All-Big 12 safety Dante Barnett and versatile veteran cornerbacks Danzel McDaniel and Morgan Burns, the Wildcats have the pieces to form one of the best defensive backfields that Snyder has ever had, which figures to be the team's anchor. Whether the secondary becomes elite, however, will hinge on the lineup's newcomers, Sean Newlan and Donnie Starks.
Can Dominique Heath give the Wildcats a spark on special teams?
In recent seasons, K-State has been a load on special teams units. Lockett returning punts and kicks, however, was a big reason why. With him gone, the Wildcats will be leaning on Heath, a redshirt freshman who has flashed a penchant for producing big plays in the return game since the spring. K-State is in good shape at kicker and punter with returners Matthew McCrane and Nick Walsh. If Heath proves to be dangerous on returns, the Wildcats could be dynamic on special teams once again.