Many schools already have had their spring football games, those glorified scrimmages that are usually just for show. Kansas State is just getting into the meat of its practice schedule.
In other words, there is little time to waste.
Wildcats coach Bill Snyder met with reporters Tuesday for the first time since workouts began last week, and in typical fashion, revealed very little. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a whole lot of gears cranking behind the scenes as Snyder seeks to answer a slew of questions before the annual spring game on April 26:
— Has rising senior Jake Waters won the starting quarterback job for good?
The throw-first QB split time last season with run-first backup Daniel Sams, though he appeared to take control of the job late in the season. Waters was especially good in a victory over Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, slicing up the Wolverines’ defense.
— Speaking of Sams, will he still be a quarterback next season?
The soon-to-be junior is simply too athletic to keep off the field, but he’s not an especially strong passer. He floated last December the possibility of switching to wide receiver, even though Snyder had been adamant that he recruited Sams to play quarterback.
“Well, right now I told Daniel that if he wants to try his hand at wide receiver, then I would certainly give him the opportunity,” Snyder said. “He is working at the wide receiver position, and he is growing. From a learning standpoint, he understood all the schemes, so he knew assignments for wide receivers. What he did not understand was the execution and how to go about doing it.”
There is precedent at Kansas State for such moves. Chris Harper began his college career as a quarterback at Oregon but switched to wide receiver before transferring closer to home.
—Who will carry the football now that running back John Hubert has graduated?
Hubert ran for 1,048 yards and 10 touchdowns last season, giving the Wildcats a balanced offense. But their next two leading rushers were Waters and Sams, and after that was Robert Rose, who also has been lost to graduation. That means there’s a considerable void at running back.
The leading candidate for the job heading into spring ball is senior DeMarcus Robinson, who had five carries for 20 yards in three games last season. Charles Jones and Jarvis Leverett Jr., a pair of sophomores who have mostly played on the scout squad, also will get a look.
— How will Kansas State fill glaring holes in the offensive line?
Tavon Rooks, Cornelius Lucas and Keenan Taylor are all gone, which means the Wildcats will have to retool up front. Junior college transfers Luke Hayes and Aaron Bennett should help.
“It is not an easy task for them. They have had their ups and downs,” Snyder said.
“I was pleased in the short scrimmage time that we had on Monday that they probably performed better than any time in the previous three and a half practices. I think it is just a repetition.”
— Can the Wildcats carry their momentum from last season into this season?
After getting off to a miserable start that included a loss to North Dakota State, Kansas State bounced back to win six of its final seven games last season. The Wildcats finished with eight wins, and that should give them some optimism heading into the upcoming season.
Good thing, too. After opening the season Aug. 30 against Stephen F. Austin, the Wildcats head straight into the grind: They open Big 12 play the following week against Iowa State, and then welcome Auburn to Manhattan for the return game of their home-and-home series.
“This year, there is more of an emphasis on picking up where we left off,” kicker Jack Cantele said, “and that has really been coach Snyder’s main focus since we came back after the bowl game.”