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15 Kansas State Can the Wildcats maintain their recent high rate of success? The pressure is on

As expected, the question of who will play quarterback this fall
created a lot of buzz along the buffet line at the Catbackers
Club dinner last month in Kansas City, Kans. Nevertheless, says
senior outside linebacker Ben Leber, who attended the function,
for every booster curious about who will replace passer Jonathan
Beasley--not to mention who will take over for the 26 other
seniors who departed--two old-timers wanted Leber to know just how
good the 2001 Wildcats have it. "I recently realized how bad
Kansas State was before Coach Snyder came along," says Leber.
"Nowadays the pressure comes from the fact that we did so well
the year before."

Since arriving in 1989, Bill Snyder has built a program that had
had only one winning record in the 11 previous years into a Big
12 powerhouse that has won nine or more games eight years in a
row. The Wildcats capped last season with a flogging of Tennessee
in the Cotton Bowl. To top last year's performance they will have
to win road games at Oklahoma (the Sooners accounted for two of
Kansas State's losses last year) and Nebraska. Before the season
starts, however, the Wildcats have to work out what Leber
euphemistically calls "some personnel issues."

They have to replace 1,000-yard receiver Quincy Morgan plus five
other players who were drafted by the NFL. The secondary has only
one returning starter, and the defensive line has none. Then
there's that quarterback issue.

Sophomore Ell Roberson enters the fall atop the depth chart but
will likely share time with Ricks (Idaho) Junior College transfer
Marc Dunn. Although "similar talentwise," says Snyder, their
opposing styles--Roberson is trained in the option while Dunn
likes to put the ball in the air--could create confusion early as
the offense adjusts to each player. "There is an advantage to
that," says senior wideout Aaron Lockett. "At third-and-short,
everyone knew we were running the option. This year we won't be
so predictable."

The Wildcats will have many new faces in the lineup, but they
don't see this as a building year. "We have the makings of a
quality football team," says Snyder. "I don't think that anyone
will be surprised to see us do well."


COLOR PHOTO: ROBERT BECK In addition to being the team's top receiver, Lockett sparks Kansas State with his kickoff and punt returns.


2000 record: 11-3 (6-2, 1st Big 12 North)
Final ranking: No. 9 AP, No. 8 coaches' poll


Consecutive 11-win seasons by K-State, a feat previously
achieved only by Florida State and Nebraska.

An opposing team's coach sizes up the Wildcats

"A Bill Snyder-coached team is one of the most difficult to
prepare for: He's constantly changing things and trying to keep
you off guard.... The Wildcats are very aggressive on defense
and try to force mistakes. They lost a little up front, but this
program has gotten to the point where there shouldn't be much
drop-off.... Aaron Lockett is a heck of a receiver. But will
they be able to get him the ball?... Quarterback Ell Roberson is
a good athlete, although he hasn't shown he can get the job done
under pressure."

Strength: 38th of 117

Sept. 8 at USC
29 at Oklahoma
13 at Texas Tech
Nov. 3 at Iowa State
10 at Nebraska