Thursday, September 30, 2010

Today's brainbusters

As part of my job, I occasionally have to call up a person's account in a computer program. In doing so, I commonly ask for that person's name. Typically, the query does not prove to be a difficult one for the person on the other end; today was different. In speaking to a guy today, I asked if his middle initial was "J," as noted in our database. After a pause, he finally responded, "Well, it would have been when we ordered our tickets."

I immediately fell into a state of deep confusion. Is it common for a person's middle initial to change? Did he find out that he was actually named after a kooky grandfather who sold tainted whiskey to average citizens during the days of prohibition? I wanted to know more, but decided that curiosity can be a dangerous thing. (It needs no provocation to kill felines, after all.)


On my ride home from work, I listened to a sports radio program. Over the air, the radio personalities discussed how the top college basketball recruit for the class of 2012, Austin Rivers, had given a commitment to play his college basketball at Duke University. In discussing the matter, one of the radio guys began a statement by saying, "Well, I don't know if this puts (Duke) back on the map..."

Luckily, I had just pulled into my apartment parking lot when this was uttered, as otherwise I might have run off the road into a sign or pedestrian. Duke won the NCAA Tournament this year. They're a favorite to win it again next year. They have the most famous coach in college basketball and they have built one of the most successful programs ever. Apparently all of those qualifications are not enough to put a school on this guy's map. The only sense I can make of the situation was that he was actually looking at a map of zoos in southern Utah... I'm pretty sure Duke isn't on that map.

Monday, September 27, 2010

People in your neighborhood - At the park... again

People at your neighborhood with a setting of the city park? Yes, it has been done. And, yes, the weekend was an interesting one, featuring other events that might be worthy of Writings treatment. There were storm clouds at a football game that appeared as if they had been computer-generated for a movie about the Apocalypse (and three quarters of football that seemed slightly Apocalyptic, as well). There was also the loathesome task of moving a friend out of a third-story apartment, leaving me sore in muscles that I was not aware I possessed. Nevertheless, we're headed back to the park- a public setting prime for observation.

The guy that prefers wool
As I type this, the current temperature in Manhattan, Kan., is 71-degrees. Skies are clear and anyone that argues that the weather is anything but beautiful should probably receive thorough psychiatric testing. It's hard to imagine a nicer evening, yet during my walk I crossed paths* with a couple. The male counterpart of the duo was wearing a knit sweater, the type one commonly sees accompanying the cheesiest of smiles on Christmas cards. Upon seeing the guy, I felt the urgent need to pinch my arm, thus ensuring that my nerve endings were still operating as they should and that I was not actually walking around in shorts in the midst of sub-freezing day. Alas, I felt the pinch and realized that it was, in fact, a gorgeous night.

*Meaning I walked by them. Please don't interpret the negative connotation of "crossed paths" in this instance. There were no sweater-induced fisticuffs.

So why was this guy wearing a heavy sweater? Current polling shows "his wife picked it out" as the most likely option, with "it shrunk while he was wearing it and now he can't get his head back through the neck-hole," and "he works for a sweater company and believes that showing off the product is the best way to advertise" ranking second and third, respectively.

The Mom on Speed
When I first noticed the MoS, it was actually because of her kid. Her young son, probably near two years of age, sat upright in his stroller with a grin on his face. It was the type of look one might see on the face of someone enjoying a zip down the loopiest roller coaster track. Soon after, I realized why the kid looked so excited. His mom was pushing the stroller at the average speed of a small Honda. MoS was not jogging, running, or riding any sort of motorbike, mind you; she was walking, but at an unbelievable speed. I expected to see junior fling his arms in the air and yell "oooooooooooooohhh" as if he was on the first hill of a roller coaster, but as far as I know, pictures of his ride were not available for purchase after exiting the stroller.

The Mom on Demerol
On the opposite end of the spectrum MoD pushed her young child's stroller with the zest of a severely disgruntled employee on her way to an annual evaluation. While MoS was busy setting land-speed records, MoD was preoccupied with moving so slowly that one could have confused her with a park bench. I'm fairly confident I saw her youngster turn around in his seat and check her pulse at one point.

The football players
A group of college guys tossing the pigskin around in the park. Notice I said that they were "tossing the pigskin around" rather than "playing catch." There was not a lot of catching involved, as learning that fundamental part of the game was apparently overlooked in favor of seeking out the latest in Under Armour sportswear. Nice work, guys.

The bug that flew directly into my eye
Sure, it doesn't qualify as any sort of "people," but he enjoyed the park just the same. At least he did until he decided he'd like to play chicken with my right eye. (Both sides lost.) His exploratory journey left my eye watering for the remainder of the constitutional, making it appear as if I was having the most depressing trip through the park ever. Please know, that was not the case (though I do miss the old hamster-wheel-in-a-shack playground equipment that - as far as I can tell - served mainly as the device to injure children so that their parents could have an excuse to take them home.)

Note to other bugs thinking of dive-bombing my retinas: If you want to get a glimpse of how I see the world, checking out The Writings is the recommended method. (And you don't have to touch any eyeballs in the process.)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Writer's block

This evening I realized that this blog has existed for over four years; the first post was cast into cyberspace in June 2006. It began as a way to distract myself from the fact that I was somewhat miserable when living in a town affectionately deemed Good-but-not-great Bend. The idea was that it would be a good way to provide family with a chance to keep up with my writing. (Whether they wanted to or not was anyone's guess.) Four years later, this Writing depository has become so much more. It's a way to share my thoughts on life's quirks with 3.5 readers*, a way to keep myself entertained, and ... well, I guess that's about it.

*Margin of error: 2.5 readers. 

In the course of its existence, The Writings have drawn rave reviews like "I think you just made the Internet dumber," and "Hey, I read some of your blog... I honestly couldn't tell you what it was actually about."*

*Though the first is fictional (as far as I know), the second quote is actually real, and it was uttered in the midst of a date with the author. Naturally, he was quite flattered about the fact that he had created something so forgettable.**

**The Writings: ... uhh, what were we talking about? 

The point of all this is not to brag about the wild popularity of the blog, but to pass along the fact that it is not easy to work to entertain* 0.000000012179487179-percent of the U.S. population on a multi-weekly basis. Doing things like flipping on the TV, looking around online, or actually interacting with other people in order to happen upon blog topics can be utterly exhausting. Sometimes, you have to enlist help.

*Editor's note: We realize "entertain" is used haphazardly here. Please feel free to replace with "bemuse" at your whim.

I attempted to do that very thing tonight. I sent a text message seeking input from people who - at the very least - recognize my name when it pops up on their phone. (I think.) The results of the very unscientific poll were mixed.

The first suggestion was a review of season premieres for the fall TV season. It's not a bad idea, but I feel like I have written about things the land of television a lot lately, and I'm fairly confident that I do things other than watch TV. Example: I am currently writing and listening to music... while the evening's Royals game proceeds muted on my television. Nevermind.

The next idea that came my way was and "ode to annoying sports fans who sit next to you at sporting events." Longtime readers of The Writings know that I do enjoy a good (or even mediocre) ode. Alas, I've sat in a press box for every recent sporting event I have attended, so I have no recent "annoying fan" material to use. Who would have thought that writing could keep me from writing?

Suggestion number three was an intriguing one: "sorry, I got nothin..." I considered picking the sentence apart from the grammatical perspective, but soon remembered that my goal was not to make any potential readers want to pitch their computers out of the nearest window.

After wading through ideas that would ultimately be rejected, I finally found a topic that would stick, and it was neatly summed up in one word: strippers. It was the perfect topic. How I've avoided writing about it for four-plus years, I can't be sure, but that changes now. Without further ado:

(Weather)strippers are continually working to make our planet a better place. Their work to keep warm (or cool) air in our homes may often go unappreciated, but the end result is often the same. (Weather)strippers keep folks happy.

... I'm sure that's what the person who mentioned "strippers" as a topic was referring to.

Turns out the attempt to seek blog topics was a bit of a bust, but there's always tomorrow. (Well, probably not tomorrow, but some unspecified date in the future.) Writer's block is a dangerous thing.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Quick hitters

"Dot net... N-E-T."

Yes, that's what I heard today while taking someone's e-mail address over the phone. The guy actually spelled out "net" to make sure I had it correct. Oddly, his e-mail address was not

Just heard on television: "My kids are now proud of the fact that I was in Animotion and I sang "Obsession." ... Poor kids.

I received an e-mail today that began "Dear merge('FIRST_NAME')." Upon reading this, my attention was certainly sparked. After all, it has been years since anyone has called me "merge('FIRST_NAME')."

The Skateboard Street League is currently airing on ESPN2. The show does not take place on any sort of street, but instead in some arena with makeshift ramps and rails set up. I'd complain about false advertising, but that would mean I would actually need to stay on this channel longer. Pass.

Former KU football coach Mark Mangino has been hired as a consultant by the University of Minnesota. For the safety of the MLB franchise in the city, folks better quit playfully referring to the team as the "Twinkies."

I just discovered that "Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome" features a scene where a mask-wearing giant drives a vehicle while a midget who speaks broken English and a monkey sit on his lap. The rest of my night will be spent attempting to figure out how the film did not sweep the 1985 Academy Awards.

Star Trek: The Next Generation first appeared on television in 1987. (Thanks, Wikipedia.) That means that, for the last 23 years, I've been thoroughly convinced that LeVar Burton should have just stuck to Reading Rainbow.

Remember that Mark Mangino joke a few paragraphs up? Looks like the Twinkie Diet isn't a bad plan... Hail, hail, hail, alma mater.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Recent lessons learned from a two-year-old

Though she's just two, my niece is by far one of the most entertaining people I have ever encountered. Along with the fact that she enjoys the spotlight when she's comfortable with her surroundings, she is also quite the teacher. Here's a few items that I've recently learned from the little gal:

- When telling a story of your gymnastics class, or a slide you played on, or a puppy you saw, pausing to take a breath is completely optional.

- Ketchup on french fries is tasty. Your french fries dipped in your uncle's ketchup - which is across the table and calls for practically crawling on top of the table to reach - make for an even better treat.

- Clowns are terrifying; so scary, in fact, that they will make you abandon the toys you were playing with and demand to be put into a crib that is not yours. Upon the exit of the aforementioned demon in face paint, proper protocol to ensure safety involves hollering at your dad to shut the door.

- When a new person is introduced to the family environment, you must move quickly to make sure that they, too, will be putty in your hands. When it's time for hugs and kisses, put the newbie first in line. When it's time to show-off a bit, always make sure they're watching. Even when you cry, turn and face the new blood, just to make sure they are still aware of you.

- When you get a temporary tattoo on your upper arm, you should pull up your shirt sleeve to show it to pretty much anyone you know. If you are not wearing sleeves, you should still act as if you are pulling up a shirtsleeve when you want to show someone the tattoo.

- Naps are for suckers, unless you're riding in a car.

- Milo and Otis is pretty much the greatest movie ever made.

- .... Unless Elmo DVDs count as movies.

- Along the same lines, the only website that matters is

- One must enjoy the simple things in life. Simply holding a hose to water Grandpa's plants can be a lot of fun with the right mindset.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

That's Life - All in two blocks

Life is funny and is often taken far too seriously. For these two points, I will accept no arguments.* It's been far too long (hours, possibly even days) since we at The Writings took a deep look at some of life's foibles. It's time to right that wrong. Let's examine some of the things you can encounter over a span of 20 minutes, no further than two blocks from home.

*Note: In this usage, "Life" is not meant to refer to the board game bearing that very name. There's nothing funny about that.


There is not much funnier in life than seeing a guy rolling down the sidewalk on a skateboard, attempting to do some sort of kick-flip, round-dealie or jump-waggle*, and nearly falling on his face. That may sound mean-spirited, but it's the truth. Mr. Skate-or-die has already made the decision that a four-wheeled board - rendered useless in the face of steady inclines - is his preferred mode of conveyance. He then determined that rolling in such a manner was not showy enough; that he needed to show his friends a bit of flash. If he's bringing that show to the center ring, he better be ready for the spotlight.

*The Writings: Where skateboard lingo is like a second language. Gnarly! Radical! Et cetera!

I witnessed a "skater" fall victim to this very course of events earlier this evening. He was rolling down the sidewalk toward me, while his cohorts - all on foot - trailed behind. After a near not-so-tender kiss of the pavement (and my own stifled laugh), Mr. RollerDerby recovered and decided that walking for a bit might not be a shabby idea. As I walked by him and his buddies, I heard him mutter to one, "I hate to be the bearer of bad news..." Unfortunately, my pace was to quick to catch the conclusion of the sentence, but I'm pretty sure it ended with something like, "... but I think I wasted $50 on this board."


On the same jaunt, I walked by an idling car. The vehicle's radio was blasting. The song: Britney Spears' "Hit Me Baby One More Time."

Remember how I said that there is little that is more humorous than a near-faceplant resulting from a failed skateboard trick?* This is one of the things that is.

*See previous section of The Writings if you have no short term memory.


While walking back home after picking up my dinner, I noticed a flier advertising a garage sale. According to the flier, the sale will feature "Everything you can imagine and even more that you can't." At this, I was intrigued. The ad went on to describe many things the sale would feature; things like DVDs, books, clothing, and adult magazines (yes, the ad's writer was brutally honest). Alas, everything the ad mentioned fell into the realm of things I have the capacity of imagining. Thus, I'm now trying to figure out what the bargain bonanza could feature that I cannot imagine.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

- a Twilight book that I'd be interested in reading;
- an autographed photo of Ron Prince that I would want to frame and hang on my wall;
- a show on MTV that could actually be deemed "quality entertainment";
- a person that was actually interested in the recent Writing about fantasy football;
- an item of KU apparel that I would consider wearing;
- an episode of Cops that does not feature someone who is either, a) shirtless, b) wearing a wifebeater, c) sporting a mullet;
- a photo of the author from from his junior high years that does not feature an incredibly awkward-looking Derek;
- anything that can help you get the last five minutes of your life back.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Upon arriving home from work today, I noticed that a note had been slipped under my door. Naturally, I figured it was a note from an adoring fan or secret admirer. After all, who wouldn't want to spend their time writing to a mediocre, very part-time sportswriter and "author" of a practically anonymous blog?* Alas, when I picked up the note to find out how great I am, I discovered it was nothing of the sort.

*Current tally of number of fan letters and secret admirer notes the author has received in his life: One. ... I can count a note from a possibly mute neighbor requesting that I turn down my television, right?

My note was actually a menu (printed on 8.5x11, standard white, 20# paper with a half fold, not on the heavier 60# stock with a fan or letter fold*) for something called The Polynesian Grill. Thus, instead of reading prose praising my firm handle on the English language (which I definitely don't have), I was treated with the knowledge that The Polynesian Grill's dish called Wildcat Mixed Noodles is actually "stir fried noodles & veggies mixed with pride."**

*Why, yes, I did spend a portion of my college years working a part-time job where a primary duty was making copies. How could you tell?

**I'm not sure what "pride" is referring to in this sense, but I don't know that I want it mixed in with my noodles and veggies.

While I am flattered that the advertisers of TPG* thought of me specifically (They certainly would not have slipped then under every door in my apartment complex. What a crazy idea...) when marketing their apparently new restaurant, I must question their market research. After all, many of the dishes on the menu sound as if they fall on the spicy end of the spectrum**, and I enjoy hot foods about as much as a hobo enjoys being jabbed in the eye with a toothpick. (Please, don't try that at home... err, wherever you might find a hobo, kids.)

*It's what the kids are calling The Polynesian Grill. (Editor's note: False.)

**At least that's what I gather through impeccable skills of perception. Others might not come to that conclusion about a side called a "Wildcat Spicy Roll," but I have put much thought and consideration into this conclusion.

As a curious individual, I have done much reading of the menu and I must admit that some of the dishes sound pretty good. Beyond that, I'm learning plenty. Upon my first glance, I discovered that "The Polynesian Grill gets its name from the word Polynesia..."

I'll pause a moment so you can let such mind-numbing knowledge really sink in.


Beyond that, I've learned that Polynesians apparently learn to spell from the Dan Quayle teachers' manual, adding an 'e' on the end of 'potato.'

Though it has taught me plenty, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the TPG menu is the information it withholds. I'm well versed in the dishes available at TPG. I know there's a "kids" (not kids')* menu, which is somewhat terrifying. I can even tell you what specialty drinks are available at the TPG bar. (Want to drink something that sounds like a depressed islander? Order a Blue Hawaiian.) Alas, I cannot tell you where The Polynesian Grill is located. The actual address of the finest Polynesian dining experience I have ever received a floor-bound menu for is nowhere to be found on the ad.

*The Writings: We appreciate the apostrophe.

A sticker on my menu tells me that TPG is open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and 5 to 8 p.m. It's also open on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and both dine-in and carry-out options are available for my meal. The physical location, though, that one must travel to in order to have these options remains a mystery. The address is nowhere on the sticker, either.

At the end of the day, it seems I have in my possession a menu for some sort of eatery that is so exclusive that they cannot even advertise the address. Perhaps the ad wizards at TPG knew I'd write about it and placed it strategically under my door in order to get some free advertising out to the bevy of The Writings' faithful readers.

... Once again, they really need some new researchers in their marketing department.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


I read or heard somewhere that "the only person that cares about your fantasy football team is you." Alas, if The Writings excel at anything, it's composing prose about things that absolutely no one else cares about. With that in mind, let's hear my fantasy football gripe of the day.

For readers unfamiliar with fantasy football, I'd like to clarify that the "fantasy" factor is in no way related to traits you see often accompanying fantasies in film. When I check the performance of one of* my fantasy football teams on any particular Sunday, the loading of the web page is not preceded by wavy vision and light piano music, as illustrated beautifully in Wayne's World. (There's also a lot less Jimi Hendrix and fewer pelvic thrusts.)

*Yes, I am once again participating in more than one fantasy football league. Reason No. 1,348 why the author is single.

As I see it, fantasy football is just a good way to make NFL games you might normally have no vested interest in a lot more interesting. (Which helps make football season more bearable when the one team you actually do have a vested in - COUGH*chiefs*COUGH - can't win more than four games in a season.) You "draft" (say that person's name in front of 13 other people and prepare for ridicule) a "team" (a list of names of people that don't know you exist) of players from around the NFL, and the performance of your "team" depends solely on how well your "drafted" players perform. Not only does it provide a person with something more to pay attention to on Sundays, but it also gives me a chance to use the "quotation mark" key on my keyboard a lot more often in Writings, since most of my interview requests for this blog are immediately turned down.*

*Fun fact: When originally brought into being, the goal of The Writings was to bring about a greater awareness of the struggles that Latvian settlers had in establishing fair trade in Northwest Canada. Unfortunately, such plans were radically changed when the author realized that he had absolutely no knowledge of any of the aforementioned topics.

Now that you, the reader, are a veritable fantasy football expert, it's time for me, the author*, to explain today's issue. To put it simply, today my quarterback was about as successful as a morbidly obese trapeze artist.

*As always, this term is used in the loosest sense possible. The Writings: Where being an "author" means that you can piece together words to make sentences that almost resemble cognitive thoughts... most of the time.

The signal caller on my squad is named Kevin Kolb (pronounced "Cobb." Why? Probably just to aggravate me even further). He's "quarterback" for the Philadelphia Eagles. In fantasy football, one hopes to have their quarterback score at least 10 points for his-or-her team. Today, Kolb scored a whopping -2 points. Yes, you read that correctly; my quarterback scored fewer than zero points. Prior to today, I was pretty sure the only way a quarterback could score negative fantasy points was by drop-kicking a puppy after pitching the ball on a toss-sweep or by sacrificing a goat to a statue of John Madden during a timeout. It turns out that throwing a football with the accuracy of a glaucoma-ridden orangutan accomplishes the same thing.

Thanks in large part to the Kolb Curse, my team is pretty much guaranteed an 0-1 start to the season. Where does it go from here? For the sake of the reader that has discovered that the opening paragraph of this Writing is all too true, hopefully nowhere but up. (Or down in such a cripplingly depressing manner that I can't bear to think about it... Hooray for football.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Things you now know - K-State 1-0

Thanks to a 31-22 victory over the UCLA Bruins on Saturday, K-State is 1-0 and their streak of victories in season openers is still intact. Let's review what we learned (or were reminded of) in the victory.

Daniel Thomas may not be human.
Thomas carried the ball (a career-high) 28 times. He ran for (a career-high) 234 yards. He took more hits than a blind cage fighter. He even touched the ball on eight-of-12 plays on K-State's opening scoring drive. A mere mortal would have collapsed in a heap of muscles and ligaments. Thomas, on the other hand, broke free for a 35-yard score on his final carry of the day. Some might suggest that he should be tested for every performance enhancer imaginable. Me? I'm not sure how one tests if a running back is actually a cyborg. See if he responds positively to pictures of female robots?

Thomas' backup is not to shabby, either
UCLA defenders might have assumed they'd get a bit of a break when Thomas left the field on Saturday. If so, they though wrong. Senior running back William Powell helped ensure that the Wildcat running game did not miss a beat when Thomas left the field, gaining 72 yards on just six carries. What answer is there when two opposing backs combine for 305 yards against you? I'm somewhat surprised UCLA defenders did not begin casually approaching Thomas and Powell and - rather than attempting to tackle them - attempt to convince them that they were headed the wrong direction.
"You'll have to forgive my friend. He's a little slow... Your end zone is back THAT way."

Running back is a team strength, but quarterback is not
To Carson Coffman's credit, he looked fairly strong on his first four passes of the day (all of which he completed) and the final 11-completions-16-attempts line is not bad... Unfortunately, Coffman seemed to react to a pass rush in the same sort of manner that the teenage iteration of the author reacted around females that showed any interest in him whatsoever: flustered and completely clueless of what to do. (Luckily, the author was never crushed by a 300-pound lineman as a result of his misgivings.) The Bruins sacked Coffman five times and the quarterback missed a wide-open Brodrick Smith on a layup of a pass that would have meant a sure six points. Coffman left the game for a few minutes with cramps and backup Collin Klein did nothing to show that he should have been playing instead.

Coach Bill Snyder knows what he's doing*
What do you do when your quarterback play is rough, but your running back is one of the best in the nation? You run. You run again. Then, you run some more. When you pass the ball, you keep the routes short and try to keep the reads easy. You're looking at precisely what was done on Saturday.

*Hello, Obvious. My name is Derek. Pleasure to meet you.

Defensive end Brandon Harold is a difference-maker
As a freshman in 2008, Harold tallied 10.5 tackles for loss on his way to being named a Freshman All-American by multiple publications. Last season, the Wildcats were hoping for a similar performance. Instead, injuries limited Harold to just one game. In his stead, K-State was forced to improvise in attempt to create a pass rush. Such improve included moving a 4th-string quarterback and a safety to defensive end in passing situations. The results were about as encouraging as a pep talk from Debbie Downer. Harold returned to the K-State starting lineup on Saturday. Though he registered just one sack, he pressured the quarterback on several occasions and helped cause the mess that was Kevin Princes 9-completions/26-attempts/2-interceptions line.

UCLA's receivers need to invest in Stick-um... or crazy glue... or a pot of honey...
When Harold wasn't haunting Prince's dreams, the Bruin QB did not receive a lot of help from his receivers. If you were counting their dropped passes, I hope you had a calculator handy. 

This season could be a fun one
The game against UCLA was certainly no gimme. K-State was far from perfect, but they showed they have what it takes to overcome some adversity and pick up victories... That's certainly more than some folks down the road to the east can say.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Things You Should Know - 2010 Kansas State Football Season Opener Edition

When Kansas State's 2010 football season kicks off on Saturday, there will be plenty of boisterous excitement, booze-fueled craziness, water-fueled craziness, and unbridled optimism. There will also be a lot of utterances of "okay, who the heck is that guy" as can often be the case for a very casual fan when a season begins. If you are a very casual fan (or even if you're not... I'm not about to discriminate against readers) you're in luck (or out of it, depending of your opinion of the author), as my interest goes slightly beyond that point. With that in mind, The Writings present things you should know about the 2010 Wildcats just in time for the season opener. Here's hoping these details can keep you up to speed with the football talk you might hear leading into Saturday... If not, here's hoping these details are at least seen as more insightful than tales of Burger King employees.*

*Don't worry, BK fans. I'm sure the local eatery will provide some material again someday soon.

- Carson Coffman will start at quarterback for Kansas State. He's the son of Paul and brother of Chase, retired and current NFL players, respectively. Coffman began last season as the Wildcats' starter, but after failing to impress lost the job to Grant Gregory, who may or may not have been playing with a severe shoulder injury for the majority of the season. This year, Coffman beat out Colin Klein - who played wide receiver in 2009 - and Sammuel Lamur - who earned the team's 2009 Scout Team Player of the Year award, but whom never was a full-time starter in junior college - for the starting spot. Don't be surprised to see turnover at the spot if turnovers are an issue.

- At running back and wide receiver, the Wildcats may have as much collective talent as the team has seen since the first Snyder era. Alas, much of said talent is also unproven. The proven end of it comes from Daniel Thomas, the running back who led the Big 12 in rushing in 2009. Lead blocking for Thomas is Braden Wilson, a sophomore fullback who seems to seek contact whenever he can. At wide receiver, K-State will feature a slew of talent, even if there aren't staggering stat lines to back them up. Broderick Smith and Chris Harper - transfers from Minnesota and Oregon, respectively - bring sheer athleticism to the position. Harper graduated from a Wichita high school and was the first Oregon player to score passing, rushing, and receiving touchdowns in the same season. Meanwhile, Tramaine Thompson - at 5-foot-7 - will do nothing if he does not remind you of Brandon Banks. Aubrey Quarles returns at WR after missing last season due to injury... He's the only receiver mentioned that has actually caught a pass for the Wildcats in an actual game.

- Defensive tackle Prizell Brown came to K-State as a tight end weighing around 260-pounds. He now weighs 290 and will start at defensive tackle. How did he gain all that weight? Peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, milkshakes, and weight training. I kid you not. I believe some young, talented* recently wrote a feature story on this very subject for a K-State specialty publication. You should probably go buy it. (It's been awhile since I've had a good, shameless plug. It feels so right.)

*The Writings: Where "talented" is used in place of "delusional" on a regular basis.

- The Wildcats lost last year's top cornerback, Josh Moore, to the NFL's Chicago Bears. They'll replace him this season with a young man named Terrance Sweeney, whom coaches call the fastest player on the team.

- K-State features a pair of true freshmen on the season-opening depth chart: linebacker Tre Walker and safety Ty Zimmerman - a Junction City graduate.

- The Wildcat with the best chance of a long NFL career might be the long-snapper, Corey Adams. That's no real knock against the rest of the team. He's just rather good at what he does, and it's an NFL position where specialized talent if really appreciated.

- There will be no Power Towels anywhere near most seats at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Thank goodness.