ADAM SUDERMAN, Associated Press
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Bill Snyder isn’t about to make sweeping changes to the depth chart after Kansas State struggled on both sides of the ball in a season-opening loss to North Dakota State.
That doesn’t mean he won’t make some tweaks for Saturday night’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette.
For one thing, Snyder seemed to indicate Tuesday that sophomore quarterback Daniel Sams will see the field more in Week 2. Sams was beaten out for the starting job late in fall camp by junior college transfer Jake Waters, who threw for 280 yards and two touchdowns but was also picked twice.
“He deserves it and he had a great practice last night,” Snyder said. “You also have to look at the fact that Jake proved that he is a very capable quarterback and played well during the course of the ball game. When you’ve got a good athlete like Daniel, you’ve got to find a place for him.”
The Wildcats relied heavily on a running game that involved quarterback Collin Klein last season, and Snyder seemed reluctant to tear those plays out of the book when Waters proved ineffective.
Even when Sams entered the game and ran 17 yards for a touchdown on his first play of the season, Snyder stuck with Waters on the majority of snaps — even the designed quarterback runs.
“You believe in not breaking the continuity of the young guy that’s on the field,” Snyder said, “but by the same token, Daniel’s very athletic young guy, and that was just my feeling that he needed to be on the field. He has the capability of making plays and he did so.”
Just not enough of them. Nobody on the Wildcats made enough of them.
After building a two-touchdown lead, the offense suddenly struggled to move the ball. The Bison countered by marching 80 yards in 18 plays for the go-ahead score in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, the drive so cruelly efficient that it left the Wildcats virtually no time to answer.
The 24-21 defeat was their first season-opening loss under Snyder since 1989, his first year at Kansas State, and the first loss to an FCS opponent since the same season.
It was the kind of performance that would often yield wholesale changes to the depth chart, but Snyder said that it’s premature to tinker too much with the starters.
“A lot of our number two’s didn’t have a chance to be on the field at all,” he explained. “They need that opportunity and if we were to make changes, it’s a little bit of guesswork.”
While known primarily for his running ability, Sams believe he can be an effective passer as well if he’s given the opportunity. He even credited working with Waters — by far the more polished QB when it comes to throwing the ball — to fine-tune his delivery during the offseason.
“I’ve improved as a passer because I really didn’t want to rely on my running ability, because at the end of the day we’re battling to be quarterbacks,” Sams said. “Quarterbacks are supposed to throw the ball, so I focused on my throwing mechanics and myself as a quarterback.”
Center B.J. Finney didn’t sound concerned about running two-quarterback system. In fact, he said they complement each other.
“They’re always working with each other to make each other better,” Finney said. “Watching tape together, going through formations, plays, checks, everything. They’re doing it together which is refreshing to see because it’s not one guy doing one thing in spite of the other guy.”
Waters remains the starter heading into Saturday night’s game, and Snyder wouldn’t divulge how much Sams will play. But he did say that whoever is on the field, whether for a series or a single play, has to be prepared to run the offense more efficiently than it was run last week.
“You have to get invested in the continuity of the game,” Snyder said. “You’d like to be able to put someone at any position, that or any other position, put a youngster on the field so that he gets invested in the continuity of the ball game over a period of time.”
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