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UCLA Football Preview: Bill Snyder's Staff and ST Preview

In Part 1 of the Kansas St. preview, we take a look at future HOF'er Bill Snyder and KSU's excellent Special Teams.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Snyder has been at Kansas St. since 1989, sans a four year hiatus from 2006-2009 when Ron Prince nearly ran the program into the ground.  During that time, Snyder has compiled a 187-91-1 record at a school that had a cumulative record of 299-510 in 93 years of play preceding him, and had only 4 winning seasons in the previous 44 years.  He's taken the Wildcats to the Fiesta Bowl 3 times, winning once in 1997, and for a period of time in the late 1990's to the early 2000's, Kansas St. was one of the elite teams in the nation.  There aren't many coaches around that you can say, "Coach X built this program", but Bill Snyder is one of them.  Bill Snyder built the Kansas St. football program, and for his efforts, he's been nominated for the College Football Hall of Fame.

Offensively, the team is co-coordinated by Dana Dimel and Del Miller.  Both Dimel and Miller were on Snyder's staff when he arrived at Kansas St.  Dimel left for some time to be a head coach, and Miller also coached elsewhere during Snyder's four year mini retirement, but the three have been together for a very long time.  One might think that such a long term relationship would lead to stagnated results, but Kansas St.'s offense has always evolved with the times.  If you want a good review of the offense, College and Magnolia did an excellent write-up earlier this year.  The short version is that the Wildcats spread to run and put a lot of pressure on tacklers in space.  There will be more detail on the offense in tomorrow's preview.

Defensively, Kansas St. is coordinated by Tom Hayes, a 31 year coaching veteran, including under Terry Donahue from 1980-1988 as the secondary coach and co-defensive coordinator.  Hayes is in his 4th season at Kansas St. and leads a very well coached unit.  They don't make a lot of plays in the backfield, but they don't get out of position often and are very sure tacklers.

Kansas St. really excels in Special Teams, where they have two of the best returners in the country in Tyler Lockett and Morgan Burns.  Lockett averages 19 yards per punt return and has two returns for scores this season, while Burns is averaging over 30 yards per return with a score on kickoff returns.

Kansas St. replaced Jack Cantele after a disastrous start to this season with Matthew McCrane, who is 16/17 on field goal attempts thus far.  Ian Patterson will generally handle kickoff duties, but he's only getting touchbacks on 31% of his kickoffs.  Fortunately for the Wildcats, their kickoff coverage is very good, and opponents are only getting 17 yards per return.   Nick Walsh is their punter, and he's averaging over 40 yards per punt this year and has only allowed 9 punt returns all season.  When opponents have been given the opportunity to return punts, they've fared well, averaging over 12 yards per return with a touchdown.

That concludes Part 1 of the Kansas St. preview.  Be sure to check in tomorrow for the preview of the Wildcat offense.

Go Bruins.