Jan. 17, 2013
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State's rise to national prominence under head coach Bill Snyder has much to do with an emphasis on special teams and limiting mistakes, and 2012 was no different as the Wildcats finished the year ranked No. 1 in the UPS Team Performance Index ratings for special teams and fewest team miscues.
The Wildcats finished third overall in the final 2012 UPS Team rankings, which use statistical information in four categories - offense, defense, special teams and miscues - to measure efficiency and teamwork of programs that are well balanced across all aspects of football. Alabama and Oregon were No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
K-State, which won its second Big 12 Conference football title since 2003, also finished the year atop the NCAA team statistical rankings in kick returns with a 29.24 average, second in punt returns with an 18.94 average and also fourth in punt return defense, yielding just 2.0 yards per return.
Individually, junior Tramaine Thompson led the nation in punt returns with his 19.75 average, while sophomore Tyler Lockett ranked third nationally in kick returns with a 32.76 average. Lockett is also currently the Big 12's career leader in kick returns averaging 33.8 yards per return in two seasons.
Senior kicker Anthony Cantele and senior punter Ryan Doerr also contributed to the ranking after stellar seasons. Cantele was arguably the league's top place kicker in conference play, connecting on 14-of-16 kicks in league games, while Doerr led the league with 14 punts that were downed inside opponents' 20-yard line in Big 12 play.
Perhaps the most glaring statistic from 2012 was K-State's ability to create turnovers on defense while committing few on offense. The Wildcats led the nation in turnover margin during the regular season and finished third nationally at plus-19 following the bowl season. K-State forced a total of 31 turnovers in 2012 while committing just 12 on offense.
Predicted to finish sixth in the Big 12 prior to the 2012 season, the Wildcats tallied an 11-2 overall record, including an 8-1 mark in Big 12 play to capture the school's third conference championship and first since 2003. Snyder guided Kansas State to its seventh 11-win season in school history, but only the second 11-win regular season (1998).
K-State won a school-record six games against ranked opponents in 2012, including its conference-championship clinching victory over No. 18 Texas. Additionally, the Wildcats obtained their first-ever No. 1 ranking the BCS standings following their win at TCU.
Individually, Snyder was named Big 12 Coach of the Year by both the coaches and Associated Press, while also being tabbed as the Bobby Dodd National Coach of the Year.
Quarterback Collin Klein became the school's second ever Heisman Trophy finalist and went on to finish third in the final voting, while a total of 20 players were named All-Big 12. The Wildcats also topped the Big 12 Conference in number of specialty awards as Snyder (Big 12 Coach of the Year), Klein (Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year), Arthur Brown (Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year) and Meshak Williams (Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year) were all honored by the conference.