Quarterback Preview

29 Aug

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein (7) avoids defensive end Brandon Harold (91) during the first half of their spring NCAA college football game Saturday, April 30, 2011, in Manhattan, Kan. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

By all accounts, Collin Klein will be the starting quarterback for Kansas State this season. Though he threw only 18 passes in 2010, chances are that most Wildcat fans remember his first career start: he trampled Texas for 127 yards – including 2 touchdowns – over the course of 25 carries.

Originally from Loveland, Colo., Klein redshirted with the Wildcats out of high school in 2008, so this is his third year of eligibility but his fourth year being in the program. In 2009, he did some work as a receiver and a special teams player, and last season, he made his aforementioned debut as a starting quarterback. Standing 6’5″ and weighing in at 226 pounds, he has size that should enable him to see the field well and still hold up well against (hopefully) occasional contact from defenders.

Here’s what head coach Bill Snyder had to say during Monday’s Big 12 teleconference (see the transcript of the conversation in its entirety here, via GoPowercat.com) regarding Klein and his season-opener expectations for the player :

“I’d like to think he’d play well. Certainly, his hope is to, too, I’m quite certain. He’s made progress throughout virtually the entire portion of camp. I think there was a little plateau that has taken place in the last week or so, but he’s a very conscientious young man and always is very cognizant of the good things he’s doing and the things not quite so good and that he needs to improve upon, and he really commits himself to trying to improve in those areas. He’s making progress and I’m quite certain he’ll continue to do that.”

Of course, Snyder wants the other quarterbacks, including junior Justin Tuggle and senior Sammuel Lamur, both of whom have mainly junior college experience, to get some game repetitions when there is an opportunity to do so. By my estimation, that opportunity could exist in the first two games (Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 3 and Kent State on Sept. 17), but the time for experimenting will be limited past that point, as the team travels to the University of Miami for its final nonconference game and then goes right into its Big 12 schedule.

Klein has the support of his teammates and coaches, and many fans are optimistic about him as the starter, but no one outside the program knows for sure what to expect from him on a week-in, week-out basis simply because he has had limited game opportunities to demonstrate his arm strength, accuracy, decision-making and other elements of running a team. Of course, we know he can be a mobile quarterback, if all else fails.

While the offensive line isn’t as experienced as it was last season, Klein will have more targets to hit as receivers Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson come back from injury.

Personally, I think it’s great that the Wildcats seem to have a solid starting quarterback going into the 2011 season. I would think that when a team has multiple quarterbacks taking equal practice reps, their teammates develop chemistry with both, and some may prefer the style of one player to that of the other. Then, when a decision finally comes as to who gets to start, or when it’s one quarterback playing in one half and one the next half, it has the potential to be somewhat of an uncomfortable transition. Obviously, Snyder knows what he is doing: he’s been a head coach at this school for 20 years now. However, I really like this year’s decision (more than last year’s) to determine earlier on who the main quarterback will be.

Overall, I’m optimistic. Is it Saturday yet?

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