Settling on a quarterback wasn't something Kansas State figured on doing in spring practice, yet it might have found one by default.
Developing more consistency and a tougher edge was coach Bill Snyder's stated goal and one the Wildcats were expected to easily handle. However, inconsistency kept the 'Cats from the fast starts and finishes he said were missing during the 2009 season.
The quarterback who separated himself was Carson Coffman, a senior who began last season as the starter before losing the job to sixth-year senior transfer Grant Gregory. With Gregory gone, Coffman shared spring repetitions with Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur. But Klein could not participate in the spring game and Lamur spent almost all his time with the second string.
That left Coffman a chance to flourish, which he did. He threw for 440 yards and seven touchdowns, with no interceptions. Coffman got to call his own plays, a concession Snyder made after offering this modest appraisal: "He was all right. He threw the ball an awful lot."
Remember, Snyder is a veteran who recognizes spring scrimmages aren't always an accurate indicator of the future. He even mentioned that Coffman had a strong spring game a year ago.
The pass-heavy play mix was obviously misleading. The featured weapon in the Kansas State offense is Daniel Thomas, a senior who was named the All-Big 12 running back last season after leading all conference rushers.
Klein, whose injury was not disclosed, was among 13 Wildcats who missed the spring game because of ailments or academic issues. The good thing stemming from that is it enabled other players to receive more reps. One of the most impressive was safety Ty Zimmerman, a freshman who grayshirted last year but eventually settled on that side of the ball and was subbing for regular Tysyn Hartman.
While the identification of any potential help was important considering Kansas State lacks depth, Snyder also wanted to set the right tone for the 2010 season. To that end, he wanted the team to start practices fast and finish practices strong, simulating the kind of tempo needed to endure a tough Big 12 schedule after going 6-6 and missing out on a bowl last season.
The message, however, didn't take root.
"We didn't perform with the consistency we needed," Snyder said.NOTES, QUOTES
--The football team at Kansas State finally has a little competition for attention. The basketball squad drew a long line of admirers seeking autographs before the spring game. In addition, during a benefit auction the night before the spring game, three dinner dates with basketball coach Frank Martin fetched $17,500 apiece. Attendance for the spring game was announced as 13,696.
--Kansas State coach Bill Snyder got a little too close to the action during one spring practice and was rolled by a pair of beefy linemen. The hit resulted in torn knee ligaments for the 70-year-old coach, yet he continued to observe the remainder of practice. Snyder was uncertain whether he'd undergo surgery to repair the ligament damage, which he said would only hurt his golf game. He estimated he played golf roughly three times in the three years he was retired.
QB Carson Coffman -- Made the most of full-time work with the first string in the spring game by throwing for 440 yards and seven touchdowns. An injury to QB Collin Klein allowed for more reps and Snyder acknowledged Coffman was the leader at that spot coming out of spring drills.
S Ty Zimmerman -- Joined the Wildcats as a grayshirt who enrolled last year part-time but could not engage in practices until this spring. Shined at receiver during an early scrimmage, then was moved to safety and picked up quickly on that position.
WR Brodrick Smith -- The Minnesota transfer led all receivers with 12 catches for 167 yards in the spring game. Smith showed the ability to gain separation, though he was going against second-string defenders.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You think back a year ago in the spring game, (QB Carson Coffman) had pretty good numbers as well. You have to look at a lot of things outside the numbers." -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: When Bill Snyder returned to coach Kansas State after a three-year layoff, he wanted to "smooth the waters." Turbulence that developed under overmatched coach Ron Prince was causing the program Snyder built to sink. The Wildcats responded by contending for the Big 12 North title, but a 6-6 finish with two wins over FCS teams prevented a bowl bid. Although it's obvious the Wildcats are better coached, based in part on the overwhelming improvement in their defense last season, many spots must be filled and depth is an issue. Winnable conference games in 2010 will come on the road, where Kansas State must play its final three games of the season. That could make it tough again to reach the postseason.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Identifying a new starter at quarterback is the first priority. The leading candidate coming out of spring was Carson Coffman, though he began the 2009 season as the starter and lost the job. The QB will at least benefit by getting to hand off to RB Daniel Thomas, who led the Big 12 in rushing last season and could be an All-America candidate behind a line that returns four starters. The development of receivers is essential following the loss of Brandon Banks, though transfers Brodrick Smith and Chris Harper upgraded the talent within that position group. A tight end also must emerge following the loss of Jeron Mastrud, though Snyder is often content using that player predominantly as a blocker.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Toughness is needed from the front seven, which could also lack depth. Fielding a solid line and also upgrading the linebacker position is essential, though the loss of coordinator Vic Koenning to Illinois may be the most difficult adjustment after the Wildcats improved immensely on defense in 2009. The highest-rated recruit Kansas State signed, DT Adam Davis, is a juco transfer who did not participate in spring camp. He is expected to offer more line depth. Despite the early NFL entry of Josh Moore (fifth round, Chicago Bears), the Kansas State secondary appears solid with the return of four players with starting experience led by S Tysyn Hartman and S Emmanuel Lamur.
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Losing Banks was most detrimental on special teams after he returned four kicks for touchdowns last season. Tramaine Thompson is a speedster Kansas State is looking to promote as a returner. PK Josh Cherry overcame a rough start to connect on 12 of his last 15 field goal attempts in 2009. P D.J. Fulhage was used mostly for short-yardage punts a year ago and will compete with P George Pierson for that spot, which could be a weakness.
RB DeMarcus Robinson -- An in-state high school recruit from Wichita, Robinson is somewhat similar to former Kansas State great Darren Sproles, a diminutive back with quickness and sharp cuts.
WR Brodrick Smith -- Minnesota transfer will get a second chance at Kansas State and could become a worthwhile receiver if he uses his 6-3 frame to his advantage.
DE Adam Davis -- The highest rated of all the Kansas State signees, Davis recorded 23 sacks over two seasons for Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College. Second-team NJCAA All-America selection.
--QB Collin Klein, who began the spring battling QB Carson Coffman for the open spot, missed the spring game because of a undisclosed injury Snyder indicated was minor. Klein played receiver for the Wildcats last season as a freshman.
--DE Brandon Harold, who missed much of last season with a knee injury after earning Freshman All-America honors the year before, missed the spring game because of academic issues.
--S Tysyn Hartman and OT Clyde Aufner joined Harold as returning starters who missed the spring game.
Previous Report: 04/28/2010