Also See: Wildcats Battle Missouri State in Baseball
WILDCATS IMPROVING, BUT WITH INCONSISTENCIES
By Mark Janssen
Bill Snyder's update on his spring football camp on Tuesday was no different this week than it was seven days ago.
Yes, the Wildcats are improving, but in Snyder's words, that forward movement is "consistently inconsistent."
But overall, Snyder does say, "I like the direction we're going collectively." And, "I'm seeing us make fewer mistakes." And, "We're certainly further, along today than at the beginning of spring practice."
UPDATING THE OFFENSE:
You've heard about the "which came first chicken or the egg question", but when it comes to running the football, what comes first ... the offensive line or the talented dasher in the backfield?
While partial to his position, offensive tackle Zach Hansen said, "It all starts with the offensive line."
Agreeing is Snyder, "I don't care if you have Daniel Thomas or Darren Sproles, if you don't have guys up front, it's going to be a hard road to travel. We'll have to be good up front in order to run the ball well. If you're good up front, then whoever has the ball in his hands, the better they are the better your run offense becomes."
One of the goals for the spring was replacing 60 percent of the offensive line where center Wade Weibert, plus guards Zach Kendall and Kenneth Mayfield, all at least two-year starters, must all be replaced.
"Those are pretty tough guys to replace," said Hansen. "All were great players who played at least two years. It's tough to replace that seniority. (Offensive) Calls were just natural because of their experience. That will be the hardest thing to replace."
In the middle, freshman B.J. Finney (6-4, 297, Fr., Andale, Kan.) leads the way over Hutchinson Community College transfer Shaun Simon (6-0, 337, Soph.).
Of Finney, K-State's 2010 Scout Team Player of the Year, Snyder said, "You know he's going to give great effort. He tries to do things the right way and he's going to be competitive on every single snap."
Of last year's redshirt season, Snyder praised Finney by saying, "A lot of times players have the tendency to let things slide a little whether not being attentive in the classroom or not being consistently competitive on the field. There's the tendency to think, 'This is not my year.' If that's the case, you lose the opportunity to become better and better. BJ has taken advantage of that opportunity."
Hansen adds of his teammate, "B.J. is the hardest worker on the team. No matter what we're doing, he's the first guy done whether that's sprints or any other drill. He's a Player Representative as a freshman; he's a stand-up kid who is really doing a good job. You take notice right away with how hard he works. There is no replacement for that."
At guards are Keenan Taylor (6-4, 278, Soph.), Tomasi Mariner (6-3, 317, Fr.), Colton Freeze (6-4, 301, Sr.) and Nick Puetz (6-4, 306, Jr.).
"They are like the rest of the team," said Snyder. "They are consistently inconsistent."
Rotating at tackles are returning starters Clyde Aufner (6-6, 301, Sr.), Manase Foketi (6-5, 300, Sr.) and Zach Hanson (6-8, 313, Sr.), plus Cornelius Lucas (6-8, 331, Soph.).
With experience under their belt, Snyder said, "They are making a real attempt at leading the team, but we need leadership from the entire team whether that's on offense or defense."
Hansen said of the leadership challenge, "As seniors, we all got together and just said, 'This is our deal now.' It's time for us to step up to the challenge and make sure everyone is held accountable."
Sophomore Bryce Brown continues to run No. 1 at running back, but is being pressured by John Hubert (5-7, 185, Soph.), a product of Waco, Texas, where he broke the Midway High School rushing records of NFL great LaDainian Tomlinson. Hubert rushed for 1,747 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior, and an astonishing 2,853 yards and 41 scores as a senior.
"He's competing for the No. 1 spot," said Snyder of Hubert, who rushed for 30 yards on 12 carries in 2010. "He has a different style, but it's not just a situation to come in and slow it down, or speed it up. He's competitive for the No. 1 spot."
While posting those glossy stats as a prepster, Hubert was not heavily recruited.
"Perhaps people looked at his size," said Snyder. "He's not the biggest guy in the world. Maybe his size/speed ratio was not what others wanted. But I sensed that he was a young guy with something to prove. I think he had a feeling of being a young guy against the world, which gave him a competitive attitude."
The wide receiver position appears set at the top with Chris Harper (6-1, 225, Jr.), Brodrick Smith (6-1, 209, Jr.), Tramaine Thompson (5-7, 165, Soph.) and Sheldon Smith (5-11, 180, Sr.).
The same is true at tight end with the return of returning co-starters Travis Tannahill (6-3, 245, Jr.) and Andre McDonald (6-8, 276, Soph.).
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