K-State Sports Extra: Coffman and Klein

By Mark Janssen

Bill Snyder is Bill Snyder when it comes to naming starting quarterbacks.

In far more years than not, the Wildcat starter behind center is often not named until the early-week press conference before the season opener. Heck, in other years, it's been at 1:09 for a 1:10 kickoff.

With that being the case, it shouldn't be surprising that on Monday the Wildcat coach gave no clue as to who the starting QB would be for Saturday's 6:10 p.m. kickoff of the annual Purple-White game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

"As I have said at the very outset, we will go through all of spring before we define how we will go into the fall, and the way we go into the fall will not necessarily be the way we play the first game," said Snyder. The Wildcat coach added, "We will make that distinction probably 10 days before the first ball game."

So, whether it's Carson Coffman or Collin Klein who starts on Saturday, Snyder is sure to finagle it so each quarterback gets roughly 50 percent of the snaps with the No. 1 unit.

Asked what might put himself just ahead of Coffman, or just behind Coffman, Klein turned politician with his words: "The big thing is consistency. He makes a lot of big plays, I make big plays, but it's just a matter of getting right back in there after you make a mistake and try not to make the same mistake.

"As quarterbacks, we're just looking at every individual play and not taking time to step back and look at the big picture (of who might start) to see who's doing better," Klein said. "As players, it's a play to play thing. If you step back and take time to look at the big picture, you're going to be behind."

Klein added that both quarterbacks only want what will help make the team succeed: "We just want the team to do well at the end of the day."

Snyder said that Klein has improved his game, but how he reached improved status has been "erratic."

"The good point is if you drew a straight line from where he was and where he is now, he has elevated his performance," said Snyder. "A lot of that comes from experience because he spent more time as a wide receiver last year in practice time than he did at quarterback. It is like taking a defensive back and moving him to wide receiver, and vice versa. The experience of understanding the other side of the ball is really instrumental and elevates your global knowledge of the game."

Snyder said he liked Klein's 6-foot-5, 233-pound size, calling him a "pretty physical guy who runs reasonably well for the kind of size that he brings to the table. He's intelligent and works extremely hard."

Coffman won the starting job a year ago, but that starting status lasted just four games - two wins and two losses - which all came in non-conference play before the ball was handed to Grant Gregory for the remainder of the season.

Coffman's four-game accuracy as a starter was OK at 61 percent, but it was for just 143 yards per game, plus passing the ball into the end zone was basically non-existent. In fact, Coffman's only two passing TDs came in the second quarter of the season opener against UMass. After that, it was 14 consecutive quarters without a touchdown pass.

"I understand what didn't happen, but I'm not sure what prevented it," said the 6-foot-3, 211-pound senior. "That's one of the things I'm working on this spring. Once inside the 20, I have to get it in the end zone."

Today, Coffman says he knows the offense and is more comfortable checking into better plays, which he thinks will ultimately decide who starts at quarterback.

"Things were slowed last year because we changed offenses when Coach Ludwig (offensive coordinator) left just as we were getting our offense in," Coffman said. "Now, we've had a season and a half with the same offense and we just know what we're doing."  

Coffman added, "Coach Snyder likes to be in good plays. I think it will be the guy who can get us out of bad plays and into more good plays that ends up starting."

As a senior, the Peculiar, Mo., product knows this is his last hurrah:  "I just have to make the most of it. I feel like I'm the No. 1 guy."

Sammuel Lamur remains the No. 3 quarterback, while true-freshman Billy Cosh is also drawing some early notice.

"I really like what I have seen. Again, I do not like to say a lot about someone who has not been on the field, but he (Cosh)  has shown me that he can put some zip on the ball and can throw it around," said Snyder. "He is just going through a learning process right now with a new system."

Early in the week Snyder said he wasn't sure how the scrimmage would take shape, but in past years it's been the No. 1 offense versus the No. 1 defense. Without identifying names, the Wildcat coach also said 8 to 10 players would likely be held out of the scrimmage due to injuries.

One thing Snyder did promise is that "vanilla" would be the flavor of the day.

"Our focus will be on execution and fundamentals," said the K-State coach. "There won't be any tricks or blitzes, and a lot of the offense will come off the table. We will be very basic with the approach to the players being it's you against him. We'll be looking at the very, very basic things."

SPRING GAME INFORMATION:

  • Tickets cost $5 (children 2 and under will be admitted free).
  • Parking is free with the parking lots opening at 3 p.m.
  • Gates to Bill Snyder Family Stadium will open at 4:30 p.m.
  • Members of the men's basketball team will be signing autographs starting at 4:30 on the south concourse of the stadium.
  • Kickoff for the game is 6:10 p.m. The evening kickoff was set to not interfere with the KSU Open House festivities throughout the day.
  • There will not be an opportunity for autographs after the game.
  • Fans will be treated to a concert in the East parking lot after the game headlining Nick Motil and Quietdrive.