Spring has Sprung: What to make of the “15th practice”

30 Apr

While a spring game doesn’t usually give a solid idea of whether a team is good in comparison to other teams, it can sometimes yield hints of which players are confident and which players work well together. In my opinion, that is exactly what the “15th spring practice,” as head coach Bill Snyder referred to it, did for the Wildcats.

For my actual story on the game, read this or this or this – that’s the beauty of writing an article for the Associated Press. Here, I’ll just go through a few of my more opinionated observations about the ramifications of the Purple team’s 38-37 win over the White team.

First, I’d be no less than flabbergasted if Collin Klein doesn’t end up with the starting job. Now, Snyder might not – probably won’t – announce it. It’ll more likely than not be a “surprise” just like it was last season with Carson Coffman. Klein has the most game experience and looks the most confident and most comfortable with the receivers. He played great in the spring game, just like Coffman did a year ago. I could be wrong, but I’d guess that Snyder will stick with that modus operandi for choosing the starter. Some may question his methods, but I’m sure it’s true – as the saying goes – that Snyder has forgotten more about football than most people will ever know.

Secondly, the Browns are beastly, in the best way. Linebacker Arthur Brown led the team in stops. 14 tackles is impressive even in a spring game. He lived up to the hype there, to be sure. His brother, Bryce, was the most consistent rusher for the team with 73 yards. When the two, native to Wichita, decided to transfer to Kansas State, Wildcat fans were excited to see what would happen. Now they should be even more excited for the actual season. These two can make major contributions to the team, and I’m sure they will.

Third, I’ve always kind of wondered why these games feature the 1’s versus the 2’s. How about first-string offense versus first-string defense and second-string offense versus second-string defense, and then mix different guys in both of those groups? Granted, the response to that suggestion would probably be, “That’s what we do in practice.” I’ll defer to coaches 9 times out of 10, but it’d be neat to have a legitimately close game instead of a falsely close game due to the old halftime score swap.

Fourth, I love that the spring game allows the crowd to cheer for both teams. One the last-second touchdown drive, the band and cheerleaders were going back and forth with color chants, encouraging both sides. As the band yelled, “Pur-ple! Pur-ple! Pur-ple!” the guys with the megaphones responded, “White! White! White!” How nice to have a game in which your team cannot lose.

Fifth, Snyder’s sense of humor never ceases to amaze me. He takes joy, I’m quite certain, in sabotaging reporters’ attempts to lead him into a certain response to a question. For example, when one man asked if Arthur Brown was the fastest linebacker K-State has had, because he chased a certain player all the way across the field, Snyder responded that he could catch up with that particular guy. Obviously, it was a comment made in jest. But you have to give the coach credit for making it difficult for the media to blow things out of proportion by making their comparisons – especially ones based on performance in a spring game – seem silly.

All in all, it was a beautiful day for a nice, non-stressful game. Here’s hopefully the real season goes as smoothly.

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