Kansas State opens its much-anticipated 2009 season of football on Saturday as the Wildcats welcome Massachusetts to Bill Snyder Family Stadium for a 6:10 p.m. matchup in head coach Bill Snyder’s first game back following a three-year retirement. The game will not be televised but will be broadcast live across the K-State Sports Network, online at www.k-statesports.com and on SIRIUS satellite radio channel 161. Wyatt Thompson will call the action with Stan Weber serving as the color analyst and Matt Walters providing updates from the sideline.
Saturday’s season opener will cap a Family Reunion weekend in Manhattan as all of K-State Nation has been welcomed back to celebrate the return of Snyder to the sidelines. Over 300 former K-State football players plus their families will be among those in attendance for the UMass game and will be honored during pregame activities. The players will also don K-State jerseys provided by GTM Sportswear. Following Saturday’s contest, a spectacular fireworks show will cap the weekend’s activities. The fireworks show, presented by the K-State Student Union Program Council, K-State Athletics, Commerce Bank, Briggs Auto, Varney’s Bookstore and Kite’s Bar and Grill, will be choreographed to music and will be similar to a show that was a huge success following a Wildcat baseball game this past spring.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE WILDCATS
Kansas State fans will get their first look at the Snyder-led Wildcats in 2009 this Saturday against UMass. The Wildcats will be led this season by captains Carson Coffman (QB), Nick Stringer (OL), Jeron Mastrud (TE) and Alex Hrebec (LB). The bulk of K-State’s experience on offense resides along the line and at wide receiver as K-State will open the 2009 season with a new quarterback for the first time since 2007. Whomever takes the first snap in 2009 will have several go-to guys to count on as All-Big 12 performers Brandon Banks (WR) and Mastrud return for their senior seasons as the duo combined for 105 catches and 11 touchdowns last season. Stringer has 23 career starts along the offensive line, while the group has a total of six returners who have earned at least one start in their careers. Defensively, the Cats return up to eight regular starters from a year ago and are looking for big seasons from the likes of Jeffrey Fitzgerald, Eric Childs, Tysyn Hartman, Joshua Moore and Hrebec, among others. K-State returns its top six tacklers from a year ago, led by Moore, who had 76 stops, 12 pass breakups and three interceptions.
A LOOK AT THE OPPONENT: MASSACHUSETTS
The winningest program in the Colonial Athletic Association over the last decade will enter a new era against Kansas State on Saturday as Kevin Morris, the offensive coordinator the last five seasons, will patrol the sidelines as the UMass head coach for the first time. The Minutemen, who are ranked No. 18 in the FCS Coaches Preseason Poll, feature preseason all-Americans in left tackle Vladimir Ducasse, wide receiver Victor Cruz, linebacker Josh Jennings and free safety Jeromy Miles. Massachusetts, which boasts a roster of 41 juniors and seniors, returns its top rusher in Tony Nelson, who totaled 1,325 yards and tallied 12 touchdowns, as well as its leading receiver in Cruz, who hauled in 71 receptions for 1,064 yards and six scores. The Minutemen will have to replace its starting quarterback from a year ago in Liam Coen, who was 206-for-334 for 2,749 yards and 24 touchdowns. On defense, the Minutemen return their top two leading tacklers in Miles (104 tackles) and Jennings (90 tackles). Jennings was also tied for the team lead with 7.0 tackles-for-loss, while Miles tied for the team lead with three interceptions.