Best and worst of K-State football in 2010

Kansas State’s 7-6 football season was filled with ups and downs. Here is a look back at the best and worst of 2010:

Best Offensive Player: Daniel Thomas. For two seasons, he was Kansas State’s defining player. The offense revolved around him, and he finished his senior season with 1,585 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Best Defensive Player: David Garrett. K-State’s defense didn’t have much to be proud of in 2010, but Garrett was consistently strong. The junior cornerback led the Wildcats with 92 tackles (15 for loss), broke up nine passes and made an interception.

Best Special Teams Player: William Powell. It’s too bad Powell suffered a season-ending injury against Texas, because he was a really exciting player. The senior led the nation with a kick return average of 34.6 yards.

Best Newcomer: Ty Zimmerman. If he is able to build on his freshman season (74 tackles and three interceptions) and improves with age, Zimmerman is in for a great career at K-State.

Most Improved Player: Aubrey Quarles. He missed 2009 with an injury and really had to step up this season when Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thomspon went down with injuries of their own. He did. He caught 51 passes for 760 yards and five touchdowns and became the Wildcats’ top receiver.

Most Unsung Player: Terrance Sweeney and Stephen Harrison. Little was written or said about these senior cornerbacks, but they did an admirable job against opposing receivers. The duo combined to break up 21 passes and make four interceptions.

Most Disappointing Player: Brandon Harold. Perhaps expectations were too high for the sophomore defensive end coming off an injury-plagued season, but Harold failed to live up to the hype. He lost his starting spot to Prizell Brown and came up with only two sacks.

Least Utilized Player: William Powell. When he was healthy and backing up Thomas at running back, Powell rushed for 250 yards and four touchdowns — on 23 attempts. He could have done much, much more for K-State’s offense.

Best Coaching Decision: Waiting until the last possible moment to switch from Carson Coffman to Collin Klein before the Texas game paid huge dividends. K-State rushed for 261 yards, and pounded the Longhorns 39-14 despite attempting just four passes.

Worst Coaching Decision: K-State was unwilling to deviate from its basic 4-2-5 defensive scheme and was gashed by the run week after week.

Best Stat Line: Carson Coffman against Kansas — 15 of 16 for 184 yards and two touchdowns. Ten carries for 42 yards and three touchdowns.

Worst Stat Line: Baylor’s final offensive tally against K-State — 683 yards on 76 plays.

Best Play: Tramaine Thompson caught a quick pass near the sideline and juked a KU defender out of his shoes for a 36-yard gain. The play was repeatedly aired on Sportscenter throughout the next day.

Worst Play: Carson Coffman’s pick-six interception against Iowa State was as bad as they get. The senior quarterback threw a pass directly into the hands of stationary linebacker A.J. Klein, and he strolled 69 yards the other way for a touchdown.

Best Win: Central Florida. Few thought much of this victory in late September, but a 17-13 win over the Golden Knights turned out to be the Wildcats’ best. Central Florida went on to win 11 games, a Conference USA title and a bowl game. They should finish the season ranked in the Top 25. Fans also got to see the crazy cloud (pictured above) during a weather delay in the first quarter.

Worst Loss: Nebraska. The Wildcats were blown out only once in 2010, and it came at a bad time. K-State fans packed Snyder Family Stadium to see their team play the Cornhuskers for the final time as Big 12 foes, and millions more watched on ESPN. Nebraska humiliated K-State 48-13 and looked unbeatable doing so. Not good considering it went on to lose four games.

Best Moment: K-State’s 59-7 win over Kansas was a romp that took the Wildcats fan base back to the mid 90s.

Worst Moment: The Salute. You had to feel for Adrian Hilburn when he was flagged for saluting a small group of K-State fans after scoring a huge touchdown in the Pinstripe Bowl. It significantly hurt the Wildcats’ chances of tying the game, and fans are still griping about the call. They are right to do so.