Tag Archives: Bill Snyder

Offseason Update: K-State Football

2 Feb

Basketball is in full swing, but the football news keeps coming. Here is a quick recap in case you have been, well, devoting your attention to basketball.

Contract Work

Bill Snyder is not going anywhere. That was the message when the coach and school inked another five-year deal that will pay the Kansas State football program’s venerable leader $14.75 million in the coming years. For the 2013 season, Snyder will earn at least $2.75 million with the possibility to rake in much, much more.

If the coach had been under the same terms for this season, his take would have included a total of $300,000 in bonuses alone: $100,000 for winning the Big 12 Championship, $100,000 for reaching a BCS bowl and $100,000 for finishing in the BCS Top 10.

When will Snyder have time to spend this money? No one knows, but it would be hard to believe he does not have a plan, and if forced to guess, one would have to imagine that many, many descendants of Snyder will not have to worry about college tuition money.

Coaching Carousel

Kansas State lost two of its youngest coaches – and not coincidentally two of its best recruiters – with the departures of defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements and wide receivers coach Michael Smith. Both played for the Wildcats, and both had coached at Kansas State for over a decade.

Clements is now the defensive line coach for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Smith will be the wide receivers coach at Arkansas.

Stepping into the defensive ends coaching position for Kansas State is Blake Seiler, who played for the Wildcats from 2004-2006. As another young assistant coach – quite a bit younger, actually, than Clements or Smith – Seiler should be able to relate to recruits. Before he gets to do any coaching, he may need to win over the hearts of those incoming players whose initial contact with the program was through Clements, who is obviously no longer with Kansas State. It will not be long before everyone sees how well Seiler managed in that regard; National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 6.

 

 

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Another spring of Snyderisms

25 Apr

Looking through the official transcript of the final spring football press conference on Tuesday, I imagined coach Bill Snyder intoning the words as I read them, and it was easy to envision, mainly because he has said exactly the same words an incalculable number of times before – and likely will again. To longtime K-Staters, I believe the following carefully measured phrases will sound exceedingly familiar.

“We have made some improvement. It has been inconsistent, and it has not been ongoing or day after day, which is really what my ultimate goal is.”

“It will not be decided until … ”

“The offense gets plays every once and a while, and the defense makes plays every once in a while. It is balanced out.”

“I think in all those cases, we have not gotten to where we need to be and want to be.”

“We are not there yet, but we are a little deeper than we were at the beginning of the spring.”

1. First of all, I admire Snyder, so my reaction to his repeated speeches for the half-hour Tuesday press conferences is amusement steeped in respect for him as a coach and as an individual. I find Snyder to be a great person, not to mention a much wittier one than is reflected by most of the quotes that make the papers. Obviously he does a great job coaching. I would wager most people have given up any attempts to second-guess him after last year’s unprecedented 10-win run to the Cotton Bowl. He knows what he is doing, quite clearly.

2. Secondly, I recognize that “coach speak” is commonplace. However, I would argue with anyone who tells me someone other than Snyder is the master of media non-communication. The man will talk you in circles until you forget your original question even as he frankly concludes, “I don’t know if that answers your question,” or eventually wraps up the rabbit trail with a final sentence or two that begins with, “To get back to your original question, yes, I think so.”

3. The man has been coaching football since 1966. The central tenets of football – and Snyder’s long-held philosophy of hard work, improvement and consistency – do not change, so I guess one can hardly expect too many surprises from one week to the next. Still, you might say it appears that Snyder works hard to steadily improve the consistency of his responses to the media.

4. I honestly do not know if I fault the coach for keeping what seems like any and all details close to the vest. From a coach’s perspective, putting a winning team on the field is the end goal, and depth or freshness of a story about the team really has no bearing on that measure, so why let more information go than is absolutely necessary?

This is how I will conclude: for all the yawn-inducing press conferences he conducts, the values Snyder endorses – the work ethic, the consistency, the improvement – are perhaps best embodied in him personally. He often jokes about how he rarely sees more of Manhattan than the football complex; he does not change from season to season – or even from decade to decade; and he legitimately is unsatisfied with a certain level of performance when he deems more achievement to be a possibility. Really, what more could you want in a coach?

Shaking Up the Spring Game

25 Apr

On Tuesday coach Bill Snyder indicated a possible change to the typical format of the Kansas State’s Purple and White scrimmage.

Instead of watching the No. 1 offense rack up eight touchdowns on the No. 2 defense over the course of an hour, a reality that last season prompted a reversal of the score at halftime, fans may get to see the first-string players on offense and defense pitted against each other during this season’s pre-season glimpse of the Kansas State team that went 10-3 in 2011.

Snyder said he will not decide until Thursday whether he will stay with the old system of having the first-string offensive and defensive players on the same team or whether he will put the players of highest caliber against each other.

“You want to take advantage of the spring game, and we have always tried to make it as productive as we possibly can,” Snyder said. “Certainly, it is something for the fans to be able to see, and I appreciate that and want to do it for that reason as well. I want us to gain as much as we can, and we have worked hard. Most of our springs has been ones against ones. I am contemplating, if that is in our best interest, to continue that progress. It does not mean that the other way does not make progress, but best against best makes it more productive.”

Thinking back to last year’s spring game, I daydream with great expectations about a game of No. 1s versus No. 1s. The headline summarizing the last publicized scrimmage is misleading: “Purple rallies to post 38-37 win at annual spring game.” That score pertained to the pretend world in which the teams swap scores at the half. In reality, the first string dominated the second string 59-16.

Media, fans and players alike would bask in the substantial gain in validity the spring game would have if the format changed from ones-versus-twos to ones-versus-ones. I sincerely hope that will be the case on Saturday. If not, well, at least we might see another 358-yard, 5-touchdown performance by quarterback Collin Klein.

KSU defeats Texas for 9th win of season

19 Nov

With under 3 minutes to play in the ball game and Texas driving, Kansas State had not gotten a sack. After three consecutive incompletions by Case McCoy, the Wildcats’ Adam Davis picked the best possible time to put the quarterback on the ground. Not long after, Kansas State secured a 17-13 victory, its fourth consecutive win against the Longhorns.

Though the Wildcats amassed only 121 yards of offense compared to the Longhorns’ 310, they came out on top to move to 9-2 on the season.

The game began as a snoozer. In fact, each team only had a field goal until 9 seconds remained in the first half.

Kansas State struck first with a field goal – all it could manage even having just 16 yards to go after an interception by Emmanuel Lamur with 11:06 to go in the first quarter gave the Wildcats a super-short field. A few possessions later, Texas took advantage of its own fairly decent field position by converting on a 38-yard field goal. The game remained tied 3-3 until the final seconds of the half.

On a drive that included an 11-yard catch by Chris Harper and a 24-yard zinger to Sheldon Smith on the sideline, Collin Klein threw a strike to Harper to put the Wildcats up 10-3 going into halftime.

Texas’ first drive of the second half gave way to another interception by the Wildcats, this one by Ty Zimmerman, who picked off the Longhorns twice in last season’s game. The ensuing possession for Kansas State ended – predictably – with a touchdown rush by Klein. This put Kansas State up 17-3 with 6:59 to go in the third quarter.

The Longhorns answered with a long drive that culminated in a 36-yard touchdown pass from McCoy to Blaine Irby. This put Texas within a touchdown of Kansas State with 3:43 to play in the third quarter. Leading 17-10, the Wildcats’ offense stalled. The Longhorns pulled within four points after getting a field goal with 4:27 left in the game.

Leading Texas 17-13, Kansas State went three and out. The Longhorns turned it over on downs, and even though the Wildcats had to punt on their next possession, Texas ran out of time.

Wildcats take painful loss on homecoming weekend

29 Oct

In the first seven minutes of the ball game, it appeared all the critics might be right about Kansas State. At the end, they were … at least about this particular game. The scoreboard read 58-17 Oklahoma. It was a devastating blow to the previously undefeated Wildcats.

“Right now my thoughts are, ‘Just forget about it,’” said wide receiver Tyler Lockett. “We were not ready to play, and we got beat badly, and nobody wants to lose like that.”

On homecoming weekend in Manhattan, the defense that had been so highly regarded took a horrible beating. The Sooners’ offense ran rampant, gaining 690 yards. 520 of those came through the air, the worst aerial attack ever by an opponent at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

While the skill and speed of No. 11 Oklahoma did not shock the Wildcats, they certainly did not expect the outcome they got on Saturday.

“We knew what kind of a team they were coming in,” said quarterback Collin Klein. “It wasn’t a surprise, but frustrating, not being able to execute like we were. We were struggling, and to watch them come right back – it was hard.”

Largely thanks to two interceptions by Nigel Malone in the first half, the No. 10 Wildcats trailed just 23-16 going into the locker room at halftime. As the second half progressed, it became clear who made better halftime adjustments.

In the final 30 minutes, the Wildcats did not score; the Sooners scored five touchdowns. Kansas State recorded just 32 yards of offense in the second half. Oklahoma got more than 10 times that number – 378, to be exact.

While those statistics make the home team defense look pretty awful, coach Bill Snyder said made it clear that it was a team loss.

“We have been able to, through the course of seven ball games, to possess the ball and move the ball well enough to keep people’s offense off the field a substantial amount of time, and we were not able to do that,” Snyder said. “This wasn’t totally a defensive malfunction to the degree that it cost us the ball game. We lost the ball game on both sides of the ball.”

Interestingly enough, it did not start out that way.

To begin the game, Oklahoma marched down the field on consecutive possessions while Kansas State answered with three-and-outs. The Sooners took a 14-0 lead.

A minute later, the Wildcats took advantage of the Sooners kick out of bounds. They got a field. It was 14-3. It was a modest beginning for the Kansas State offense, to be sure.

On the first play of the second quarter, the Wildcats committed a false start, the kind of attention-to-detail penalty that coach Bill Snyder cannot stand. On the second play of that quarter, quarterback Collin Klein weaved through the Oklahoma defense for a 42-yard touchdown rush.

All of a sudden, it was 14-10 Oklahoma.

On the Sooners’ next possession, cornerback Nigel Malone picked off Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, setting the Wildcats up for – wait for it – a 2-yard touchdown plunge by Klein.

Just like that, Kansas State led Oklahoma 17-14.

After giving up 17 consecutive points, the Sooners responded promptly with a touchdown of their own. They only went up by three points, however, as defensive tackle Raphael Guidry blocked the extra point. It was his third such play of the season after blocking two Texas Tech field goals a couple weeks earlier.

With the Sooners leading 20-17, the Wildcats sustained a nice long drive only to miss a 25-yard field goal. On Oklahoma’s ensuing drive, Jones threw another interception. It was Malone again, good for his sixth pick of the season.

Unfortunately for Kansas State, that possession yielded nothing after running back John Hubert fumbled and Oklahoma recovered. Only able to get a field goal from the possession, the Sooners went into the locker room with a six-point advantage.

Though the Wildcats did a decent job containing the Sooners in the first half and moving the ball themselves, they could not do either in the second half.

“We couldn’t move the ball, and we couldn’t stop them; it’s pretty simple,” Snyder said. “Every one of our victories has really been a team victory, it truly has, and this was a team loss. We struggled on both sides of the ball, very much. Take your pick.”

With Oklahoma State next on the dock, though, the Wildcats cannot dwell on this debacle. That sentiment is unanimous.

“We’ve just got to come together on Monday and bounce back,” said cornerback David Garrett.

 

 

 

On the Offensive: Slow and Steady

13 Oct

Photo by J Pat Carter / AP

Kansas State faces a variety of foes with fast attacks. Baylor, Missouri, and – on Saturday – Texas Tech are just a few fellow Big 12 teams who place a high priority on hurrying. Their efficiency in getting to the line of scrimmage, calling the play and snapping the ball can put defenses on their heels. While this style may work for some teams – although apparently not against the Wildcats – Kansas State employs a slightly different modus operandi.

The Wildcats regroup behind the line of scrimmage, strategize, converse, compare notes. Smaller numbers continue to replace larger ones on the play clock. The players break from the huddle and get set. Quarterback Collin Klein and others look at their coaches on the sideline. The crowd begins to count. “Five! Four! Three! Two!” Center B.J. Finney snaps the ball.

That sort of routine is why the Wildcats lead the Big 12 and the nation in time of position, on average holding the ball for nearly 36 minutes per game. Keeping the other team’s offense off the field is certainly a priority, but Kansas State has also been careful to actually make use of that time.

“The time of possession doesn’t mean anything if we’re not getting points,” wide receiver Chris Harper said. “We had opportunities last game where we should have put more points on the board and we didn’t. We’ve got to improve on that.”

As far as the slower-moving strategy, Harper has bought in.

“I think it’s to our benefit because we get that much more time in the huddle, more time to regroup and things like that,” Harper said. “You can go harder on the next play. There’s benefits to it. Obviously you don’t get as many plays, but I think you get more quality plays.”

Besides that, resisting the urge to turn the game into the foot race shows a certain obstinate attitude, and it fits the Wildcats well.

“When we chew up the clock, it means we’re controlling the game, that we’re trying to do what we want to do instead of play at their game pace,” Finney said. “So to be able to do that is a huge advantage in our favor, obviously.”

Those steamy summer two-a-days and weight room sessions pay off when the Kansas State offense is on the field for drives that last five minutes or more. They also give the Wildcats an advantage in the fourth quarter, when the team must stifle the comeback attempts of its opponent or launch a final rally of its own.

“I firmly believe that our conditioning has helped us win the games, especially on offense,” Finney said. “When we have those five minute drives like we had this past game, being conditioned helps you execute a lot better, takes fatigue off of your mind, and helps you get your wind back in between plays. Being in shape is a huge factor going into late quarters.”

At 5-0, the Wildcats are in better shape than most imagined they would be. Pervasive skepticism before wins over Miami, Baylor and Missouri has dwindled some, but Kansas State is still the underdog going into Lubbock this weekend. The players, however, seem a little tired of addressing what they can’t control – like the perception of whether Kansas State is a legitimate threat for the Big 12 title and possibly more.

“That’s in the eyes of the media and the nation,” Finney said. “In our eyes, we are a legitimate team and shouldn’t be taken lightly because we are 5-0. We come in every day and improve, and we just take that work ethic with us and the discipline to do everything right.”

So far, that’s looking like a good strategy.

 

Happy 72nd Birthday to Bill Snyder

7 Oct

Coach Snyder discusses a play with an official during the Baylor game. (Photo by Charlie Riedel / AP)

Since the Kansas State coach only takes time to eat twice a day, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be spending much time celebrating his birthday today, particularly with a game against a deceptively capable 2-2 Missouri team happening tomorrow.

On Tuesday, he acknowledged this. With a wry laugh, he said that Friday would consist of meetings … nothing birthday-related. Still, even if his birthday doesn’t excite him very much, you know other people want to tease him and congratulate him about it. That got me thinking – What would be a good present for Bill Snyder?

I started pondering all the different aspects of the game and life – because most of the principles he endorses are tied to both – that seem to make him happiest: family, constant improvement, discipline, and winning. While he doesn’t talk about that last one in such passionate terms as the others, I noticed that on Tuesday he wore a bright purple tie instead of the demure, pale yellow one he usually sports for press conferences. With a bit of poetic license, I interpret that as his optimism/excitement about the success this season’s team has had.

Anyway … combining all those elements … I think I’ve come up with an acceptable present for Coach Snyder:

A win in which the Wildcats 1) get more yardage than they’ve amassed against comparable opponents this season while giving up less, 2) commit no penalties or turnovers because everyone is in the right place at the right time, and 3) display tremendous morale and support for each other throughout the game.

Grading the Wildcats: Game 2

18 Sep

Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein (7) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the first half. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas State fans everywhere breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Wildcats dismissed Kent State 37-0 on Saturday night. It was a reassuring victory (despite being aided by 136 yards of Kent State penalties) after the team had to scrape up a fourth quarter comeback to vanquish Eastern Kentucky 10-7 two weeks earlier. When you break down this game, however, it certainly was not all good, and the Wildcats have work ahead before they go to Miami for their third and final (and very easily the most difficult) nonconference game of the regular season.

 

Offense: B-

Certainly, having mobile quarterback Collin Klein run the ball 19 times proved to be effective against Kent State, but that is probably not a strategy anyone can expect to be successful long term. If Kansas State has to use him that much on a regular basis, the most likely outcome is that he gets hurt. Now, head coach Bill Snyder said that using Klein’s legs that much is not the plan going forward; he compared last night’s game to last year’s game against Texas, in which running Klein just worked, so they kept doing it.

None of the three running backs (John Hubert, Robert Rose, Angelo Pease) got excessive yardage; not one of them had more than 30 yards. However, the offensive line did look better than it did in the previous game, and the overall blocking seemed improved, as evidenced by how much Klein was able to run.

Klein appeared to be getting more comfortable with the receivers this week, although Snyder said the play calling did not give him as many opportunities to work with. One aspect of Klein’s play that I noticed and appreciated was that after missing an endzone-bound Brodrick Smith on a long pass down the sideline, Klein went right back to him and hit him for a 15-yard strike on the very next play. Klein’s passing numbers weren’t stellar, as he completed 9 of 18 passes for 74 yards, but they were solid.

Sammuel Lamur also saw time at the quarterback spot, and he completed four of six passes for 42 yards. Across the board, many onlookers were impressed by how he threw the ball, and I agree that there seemed to be a certain ease and smoothness to his passing motion.

Last but not least, we can’t overlook the fact the Wildcats only scored a field goal in the second half. Part of that can be attributed to putting some of the No. 2 and No. 3 players on the field to get them game experience, but Snyder still was less than thrilled by that. If you score 34 points against a Big 12 team and none in the second half, you may well lose the game.

 

Defense: A-

There is not much to complain about when a unit gives a team its first shutout in five seasons. Even when Kent State spent what seemed like an eternity in the red zone, the Kansas State defense held in impressive fashion, and Snyder mentioned he was proud of the players for that. Not to put a damper on the shutout, but it did come against an offense ranked 119th out of 120 FBS teams. Next week again Miami will be a much more telling test.

 

Special Teams: B

Tyler Lockett muffed (but then recovered) a punt return, but other than that the team seemed fairly solid. Anthony Cantele hit all his field goals and extra points, and David Garrett and Tramaine Thompson got some decent returns. For this unit, the second impression was much, much better than the first.

Getting the Runaround

31 Aug

Wildcat fans need wait only three more days – including today – before heading back to one of the most beloved places in Manhattan: Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Instead of cheering on Daniel Thomas this season, the object of fans’ attentions will be …. well, one of four people, most likely. Although the team released a depth chart yesterday, head coach Bill Snyder is less than reassuring when it comes to that paper’s validity going forward.

“We’ve had 35 percent of all the practices that we will have for the entire year already, and we still haven’t made that choice,” Snyder said of the starting running back position, “so they may be – and may continue to be – competitive throughout the course of the year.”

As of now, transfer Angelo Pease is listed as the starter, followed by John Hubert, followed by Bryce Brown. And yet, the first running back Snyder described during Tuesday’s press conference was Robert Rose, who was not listed on the depth chart, and he compared the 5’4″ sophomore to legendary Wildcat Darren Sproles.

“I think Robert, even though he’s the smallest of the group, really is kind of a difficult guy to find,” Snyder said. “Remember how Darren was, and we always spoke to the fact that Darren was just a hard guy to find. Now he had ability and talent to go along with it, obviously, and so does Robert, but you put those big six, seven guys in there battling each other and he waddles between their legs. And he’s got good quickness, good movement as well.”

Of course, the coach also sees good aspects of the position from Hubert.

“John is a good movement young guy, changes directions maybe not quite as quick as Robert but still has good quickness, good change of direction,” Snyder said. “Both of them, even though they’re not very large, they do have some explosiveness to them and are not unpowerful runners.”

And then, oh yes, that guy who was ranked as one of the top recruits in the country just a few short years ago (Bryce Brown), and junior college transfer Angelo Pease, who came from Hutchinson Community College and is listed first on the depth chart, as previously mentioned.

“Angelo and Bryce bring a little bit more speed to the position,” Snyder said. “They’re a little bit bigger and just by nature of the structure, perhaps they’re a little bit more physical.”

It is not that Snyder does not want to make a decision; his preference would be to have one specific starter and a backup that would provide a change of pace, he said. That aside, running back may still be a fluid position. However, it will eventually be less fluid than it apparently is now.

“We can’t allow it to be four guys during the course of the season,” Snyder said. “We have to make some definitive selections and kind of go with it. That doesn’t mean that all of them can’t get on the field, and it doesn’t mean that all of them won’t, but it’s not going to be by a four-man committee, that’s for sure.”

Preview to the Position Previews

28 Aug

Kansas State’s football season opener is almost here, and so it’s time to go over who you’ll be likely to see on the field Saturday night against Eastern Kentucky. To keep the conversation going all the way up until game time, here’s a brief overview of what the Wildcats have in each position on the field. In the next few days, we will dig a little deeper and look at who the favorites are for the more competitive positions this season. But for now, here’s the general outlook:

  • QUARTERBACK – I don’t see head coach Bill Snyder setting anything in stone as to who the starter is, but what I’m hearing is that there is not much dispute that Collin Klein will be the one at the helm this season. Justin Tuggle and Sammuel Lamur also competed for the spot, but it seems to be all wrapped up. (For why I think that is wonderful for the Wildcats, check back here on Monday.)
  • RUNNING BACK – Despite the whole missing-summer-practices fiasco, I would guess that Tennessee transfer Bryce Brown will still start here. However, when Snyder is invariably asked the question in the upcoming press conference, I will – hopefully – be able to give a more precise report on whether or not he leads the pack, which also includes John Hubert, Robert Rose, DeMarcus Robinson and Angelo Pease.
  • FULLBACK and TIGHT END – Though it made seem odd to group these positions together, I see these players as the ones who do an awful lot of essential blocking and don’t get to touch the football very often. So, basically I’m separating them from others in this list just to give them a little credit. Anyway, Braden Wilson will be the big man at fullback, and Travis Tannahill is probably the go-to tight end.
  • RECEIVER – Chris Harper is back, and so are Brodrick Smith and Tramaine Thompson, who were developing good on-field chemistry with then-quarterback Carson Coffman until they suffered season-ending injuries around the halfway point of the season. Maybe one player people are most interested to see is one whose name evokes many good memories for longer-tenured Wildcat fans: freshman Tyler Lockett is the son of Kansas State all-time leading receiver Kevin Lockett and nephew of Aaron Lockett, No. 4 on the all-time receiving list.
  • OFFENSIVE LINE – For many, it is going to be a bit strange to have the quarterback protected by guys who don’t have the names “Weibert,” “Mayfield,” and “Kendall” across the backs of their jerseys. Quite frankly, it’s a little nerve-wracking to realize that both the center and the guard spots will be newcomers to the team – but then, turnover of players is the norm in college sports. (For more on the O-line, check back later in the week).
  • LINEBACKER – This might be one of the team’s strongest areas. Of course, that hypothesis is predicated on the success of Tennessee transfer Arthur Brown, who has yet to actually play for the Wildcats in a game. That his teammates elected him a captain, though, and that Snyder has spoken highly of him, are certainly good signs. (More on this promising group on Monday!)
  • SECONDARY – With Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman at the safety spots, the Wildcats should be able to prevent opponents from getting those killer big plays that Snyder so dislikes to give up. David Garrett, who led the team in tackles last season, will return as a cornerback, and junior college transfers are competing for the other cornerback spot. Tom Hayes is the first-year coach for this group. (Again, hopefully I will have an update on this later in the week.)
  • DEFENSIVE LINE – Ray Kibble and Raphael Guidry are the only seasoned veterans in the vicinity, but several junior college players that will be on the ends of the line look like they could make an early impact. Last season the Wildcats’ defense was one of the worst in the country, and these guys are the first line of defense (no pun intended, but since it’s there, I’ll go ahead and leave it) for keeping that from happening again. More on this crew later.