Snyder Talks Offense

Bryce Brown

July 22, 2011

Editor's Note: Kansas State improved from six wins to seven in the first two seasons of the Bill Snyder Era, Part II. But as the Wildcat coach says, "Last year doesn't count. It's all about where we go from here." Heading into the Big 12 Media Days next week in Dallas, Texas, K-State Sports Extra chatted with the Wildcat coach on his summer views of the Wildcats on offense (today) and defense (Monday).

By Mark Janssen - K-State Sports Extra

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Bill Snyder takes on a baseball manager's prospective when looking at Kansas State's offensive football possibilities for 2011. In more years than not, the strength of a team comes with how strong a squad is up the middle - interior line, quarterback and running back.

"We're younger than we might seem in that we are new at the interior line positions (center and both guards), we're relatively young experience-wise at quarterback, and we're young at running back," said the Wildcat coach. "Those are positions of on-going development, but we are pleased with the progress and we are on schedule, as we speak."

RUNNING BACKS
While the majority of the Wildcat Nation assumes that the spotlight will be shining on No. 8, running back Bryce Brown, on September 3, when K-State celebrates Family Reunion Weekend against Eastern Kentucky, Snyder maintains that a competition for the position is in place.

"I think we have a number of young guys who will make it a competitive position right up to the end," said Snyder. "I always try to promote competition, but it has to be realistic, and this is."

Brown, who was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, ran No. 1 in the spring, but just a stride or two behind are the talents of John Hubert, DeMarcus Robinson, Robert Rose, plus newcomer Ryan Smith.

Brown, a 6-0, 216-pound sophomore, is a product of Wichita East and transfer from the University of Tennessee, where he rushed for 460 yards on 101 carries, plus had 10 receptions for 1,137 yards in 2009.

While others see how big, strong and fast Brown is, Snyder first says, "He's a good young person who has good values in place. So much has been heaped upon him in terms of expectations. It would be easy for him to become off-center. He has the capabilities to be a quality running back, and he is a competitive young person. We think that competitive spirit will really become apparent in two-a-days."

In comparing Brown's talents to those of Daniel Thomas, Snyder said, "He's different in that he's faster than Daniel, but the question will be whether he is as durable as Daniel.  He's a pretty fluid back and has deceptive speed. He's not one of those backs that have three or four gears. His increase in speed isn't as apparent because he's so fluid.

"We think he will be able to handle the attention because he's a pretty reserve young guy," Snyder continued. "I don't think he'll get caught off in that too much."

Snyder calls Hubert (5-7, 185, So.), "A physical runner for his size, who can make people miss. He doesn't have the speed (of Brown), but he has some ability."

Scouting Rose (5-4, 173, So.), Snyder says, "He's as tough as a nut and quicker than all of them."

On Robinson (5-6, 191, Fr.), he continues, "DeMarcus doesn't have the speed of Bryce, and he's not as elusive as some of the others, yet he's still a fluid runner who makes good decisions."

Smith (5-6, 178, Sr.) is the cousin of former K-State running back J.J. Smith, and a transfer from Garden City Community College.

Serving as a part-time runner and receiver, but most of the time blocker for his friends in the backfield, is junior Braden Wilson (6-4, 244), who is loaded with versatility for the position he plays.

QUARTERBACKS
If not No. 8, it will be No. 7, Collin Klein, who will find himself under the microscope as he enters the fall season as the Wildcats starting quarterback.

From a year ago, Snyder said, "Whatever the amount you can do in degree of improvement one can make, he has done it. He's that type of young guy. He's constantly watching video tape, he's throwing every day, and he's providing leadership every single day."

The 6-5, 226-pound Klein proved he could run the ball out of the quarterback position last year when he dashed for 432 yards (5.7 per carry) and scored six times. In the spring game, the lanky junior showed off his arm by completing 25-of-37 passes for a whopping 358 yards and five touchdowns.

After playing as a wide receiver in 2009, Klein was one of just two Big 12 quarterbacks in 2010 to rush for at least 100 yards twice. In his debut as a starter against Texas, Klein dashed for 127 yards, which ranks No. 1 for any Wildcat quarterback making his initial start.

While saying that Klein will be the first to get the ball when August drills begin, Snyder added that it would remain competitive with Sammuel Lamur (6-4, 221, Sr.) and Justin Tuggle (6-3, 227, Jr.).

Lamur, who played at both Independence Community College and Joliet (Ill.) Junior College, saw brief action in four games last year, completing all three of his passes for 28 yards.

Out of Blinn College, Tuggle was ranked the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in junior college last year when he passed for 2,015 yards and 17 scores, plus added another 733 ground yards with a dozen more scores.

A product of Alpharetta, Ga., Tuggle started his career at Boston College in 2009 when he passed for 229 yards and four touchdowns in limited play.

RECEIVERS
Decorating the perimeter of the offense is very likely its strength with wide receivers Tramaine Thompson (5-7, 165, So.), Brodrick Smith (6-1, 209, Jr.) and Chris Harper (6-1, 225, Jr.), who all return as starters. Additionally, Sheldon Smith (5-11, 180, Sr.) has been the talk of the summer camp.

Harper caught 25 passes for 330 yards and four scores last year, while playing only partial seasons due to injuries were Brodrick Smith with 14 catches for 191 yards and three touchdowns, and Thompson with 19 catches for 258 yards.

"We have experience, but they're young in games played, which can tend to promote uncertainty," said Snyder of the collective pass catching positions.

K-State does have game-time experience at tight end with the return of Travis Tannahill (6-3, 245, Jr.) and Andre McDonald (6-8, 276, So.), who took all of the snaps at the position a year ago.

OFFENSIVE LINE
The potential strength of the offensive line will be at tackle where Clyde Aufner (6-6, 301, Sr.), Manase Foketi (6-5, 300, Sr.) and Zach Hanson (6-8, 313, Sr.) all return with starting experience and certainly Big 12 size.

Foketi started every game at left tackle, while Aufner started the last nine games of the season on the right side. Hanson logged the other three starts at right tackle. All were key components in K-State rushing for 199 yards per game, which ranked second in the Big 12.

Freshman and Scout Team Player of the Year B.J. Finney (6-4, 297, Fr.) looks to be starting at center, flanked by Colten Freeze (6-4, 301, Sr.), Keenan Taylor (6-4, 278, So.) or Tomasi Mariner (6-3, 317, Fr) at the guards.

"It's pretty important to be strong up the middle, and I think we are developing," said Snyder. "I like the direction we are going."

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