July 22, 2013
This feature appeared in the July 22 edition of the K-State Sports Extra.
By Mark Janssen
It’s sure to be the first question fired at Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder at today’s media session in Dallas, Texas: Who will be your starting quarterback?
Snyder will answer, “It’s absolutely even.”
Pausing, he will eventually add of Daniel Sams and Jake Waters, “Some days one will be at 51 percent, but the next day that youngster will be the one at 49 percent.
“They’re honestly experiencing highs and lows all over the place in different areas, but when you boil all the water out of it, they’re both right there,” said Snyder. “It’s as even as it can be.”
Sams is a 6-foot-2, 211-pound sophomore from Slidell, La. Waters is a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior college transfer from Iowa Western Community College and a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa.
Sams played in eight games last year rushing for a school record for freshmen quarterbacks with 235 yards and three touchdowns. He was also 6-of-8 passing for 55 yards as the No. 2 quarterback behind Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein.
Waters earned NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year honors after leading Iowa Western to a 12-0 record and national championship. Waters set a national community college record by completing 73.3 percent of his passes, while throwing for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns compared to just three interceptions in 333 passing attempts.
In the 2013 spring game each starred.
Waters started for the No. 1 Purple unit and ended up completing 14-of-18 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns, plus rushed for 27 yards and another score. When taking his turn with the Purples, Sams was 18-of-28 for 391 yards and four touchdowns through the air, and rushed for 28 yards and a TD.
Repeating Snyder’s words, “It’s as even as it can be.”
With every position, Snyder said, “You’d like to know your starting quarterback coming out of spring camp, but that’s true at every position and not just quarterback. But I understand that it’s a high-profile position.”
While wishing he had a true No. 1 signal caller at this point five weeks prior to the season opener, the Wildcat coach also sees the plus side of a neck-and-neck competition.
“When any position stops being competitive there are times when the improvement level plateaus for both of them,” said Snyder. “One will say, ‘I’m No. 1 and no one is going to catch me,’ and the other guy will say, ‘I’m No. 2 and there’s nothing I can do to catch the No. 1 guy.’ There’s an attitude of, ‘The decision has been made.’ That can minimize the motivation to become better.”
Snyder added that as a coach, the main thing is being honest with the players on the team.
“If we went out and said that we have a true No. 1 quarterback, the players could see through that,” said Snyder. “At the same time, Ty Zimmerman is the clear No. 1 player at his position (safety) so we need to try to keep him motivated to continue to improve his game.”
NO SIGN OF SLOWING DOWN: It will be on Oct. 7 … a Monday … that Bill Snyder will celebrate his 74th birthday.
To that the Wildcat football coach quips, “It depends on the day,” as to how he feels. Turning serious, he adds, “Nothing has changed. I don’t remember just how I felt 20 years ago, but I don’t think anything has changed. The hours are the same and I can’t think of anything that I can’t do.”
For the record, Snyder enters the 2013 season as the oldest coach in Division I football. Howard Schnellenberger of Florida Atlantic had held the most elderly title at the age of 76 until his retirement following the 2012 season.
Snyder says he “doesn’t think” about retirement, and plans to coach “… as long as I stay in good health. I’ll continue to coach until I don’t think I’m doing the program justice.”
Sure, the Wildcat coach enjoys the 11-win seasons, but he insists that winning games isn’t the primary motivating force to stay in coaching.
“It’s never been about winning,” he said. “I understand the value of winning, but that’s not why I coach, and I share that with young people I talk to that want to go into coaching. If that’s why you want to coach, you could have a miserable existence.
“My motivation comes from watching young people move on in life and become successes in their chosen career, or with their family and personal life,” said Snyder.
SUMMER FLIES BY: Visiting with Snyder last week, he compared the summer days/weeks to “… a roll of toilet paper. The later you get into summer, the faster the days disappear.”
Snyder said he didn’t take time to vacation this summer, but did take on a night at the Country Stampede.
“I enjoy that, plus they make it easy for me to get in and out without fighting the crowds,” said Snyder.
As with any summer of team workouts, Snyder said, “It hasn’t been without its headaches, but I think it has gone okay. You just never know about the makeup of a team until you get into the season. You lose players, the players who return are a year older, but you also have new additions.”
FIVE ‘CATS ON EARLY BIG 12 TEAM: In a poll of the Big 12 media, five Wildcats earned spots on the Preseason All Big 12 team.
Tyler Lockett was a repeat honoree as a kick returner, while running back John Hubert, offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas, defensive back Ty Zimmerman and punt returner Tramaine Thompson were first-time recipients.
In another poll, K-State was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 standings behind Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas and Baylor. Behind the ‘Cats are Texas Tech, West Virginia, Iowa State and Kansas.
UPCOMING DATES: Kansas State’s players will report on Aug. 1 with the first of 29 practices set for Aug. 3, prior to the evening opener against North Dakota State on Aug. 30 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.