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Wildcats’ backup QBs waiting for their chance

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, August 31, 2012, at 5:34 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Sep. 1, 2012, at 8:03 a.m.

Photos

Missouri State at No. 22 Kansas State

When: 6:10 p.m. Saturday

Where: Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan

Radio: KFTI, 1070-AM; KWLS, 107.9-FM

TV: None

Three storylines

1. Justin Tuggle or Jarell Childs: The two linebackers came out of preseason practices even at linebacker. The defender who plays best against Missouri State will likely be the starter against Miami.

2. New kickoff rules: Nobody values special teams more than Bill Snyder, so it will be interesting to see how his strategy changes with the new kickoff rules. Will he tell his kickers to try for touchbacks or to try and pin the opposition near the goal line? And how will K-State returners do against Missouri State?

3. Sellout No. 1: K-State will play in front of a capacity crowd in its fourth straight season opener. It’s the first of four sellouts.

Traveling to the game?

Fans traveling from around the state for Saturday’s game are being advised by law enforcement to plan for road delays because of construction around Manhattan. K-18 west of Manhattan has been reduced to a single lane in each direction.

The Kansas Department of Transportation has reminded fans that the exit for Scenic Drive is not accessible and all traffic must continue to Seth Child Road before turning toward Snyder Family Stadium.

— No offense to Collin Klein, but Kansas State coach Bill Snyder wants to play more than one quarterback this season.

The hope is for three to take snaps against Missouri State on Saturday.

Klein will go first, and, if all goes according to plan, Daniel Sams and Sam Johnson will take turns running the offense in the second half.

The Wildcats will require a large lead for Snyder to put his plan into action, but it might not have to be insurmountable. Klein, a senior, is the only quarterback who has played in a live game. If he takes every snap this season, his risk of injury increases, and K-State will have to turn to a rookie to replace him next year. Snyder wants to start preparing his young quarterbacks for the future.

“That’s true at virtually every position on the board,” Snyder said. “You always like to have that opportunity.”

It isn’t always possible, though.

“I would have loved to have had that opportunity a year ago when we scored with less than two minutes to go to win the ballgame in our opening ballgame,” Snyder said. “All of the No. 2s were over there sucking their thumbs with me. They didn’t have the opportunity to get into the ballgame, and that was painful toward the end of the season, because you lose the opportunity to gain the on-field experience that young people need in order to enhance their capabilities.”

If Sams and Johnson want that to change, they will need to root for Klein. Snyder has said both players are on level footing for the backup spot, and could play in different situations. Still, it’s unlikely Klein will come out of close games.

They appear to be in a tight position battle, but K-State’s quarterback corps isn’t as strong as it was a few months ago. Freshman Tavarius Bender quit the team a few weeks ago and Justin Tuggle has switched to linebacker. Game experience becomes more important without intense practices.

Fans can expect different styles from Sams and Johnson.

Sams is a redshirt freshman who relies on athleticism to make plays. He is a dual-threat player, and was one of the top quarterbacks in Louisiana coming out of high school. His teammates say he can make plays with his feet and his arm.

“He used to return kicks when he was in high school,” senior receiver Chris Harper said. “Sam is a super athlete.”

Johnson is a sophomore from Topeka, known more for his brains. He likes to pass more than run, and knows everything about K-State’s offense.

“The biggest thing as a quarterback is that you’ve got to be smart,” senior running back Angelo Pease said. “You’ve got to know the game. Sam is smart. That’s what he brings.”

Added Harper: “Sam reminds me of some of those guys in the (NFL) that aren’t the most athletic guys, but they know where to go with the ball at all times and get it out of their hands quick, because they know exactly what is going on.”

To harness those skills, and enter next season ready to be fight for a starting spot, playing this season could be vital.

“They are trying to become the very best that they can be,” Klein said. “They are growing up just like all the rest of us.”

FSKC, K-State part ways — A Fox Sports Kansas City spokesman said Friday the network will not air K-State basketball games this season after doing so for the past nine years. The spokesman said FOX Sports could not reach a deal with K-State Sports Properties to continue being its third-tier media rights provider. In past years, Fox Sports has televised 10 men’s basketball games a year – normally home games against lesser opponents – as well as women’s basketball games and volleyball matches.

A source said Cox Cable and Time Warner Cable will likely carry some of those games this season.

Check Kellis Robinett’s K-State blog at blogs.kansas.com/kstated. Reach him at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com.

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