Texas’ porous run defense has Kansas State’s attention

09/17/2013 4:58 PM

09/17/2013 4:58 PM

Daniel Sams began preparing for Kansas State’s upcoming football game against Texas by studying box scores. The sophomore quarterback has since watched the Longhorns on video and learned their tendencies with the help of coaches, but he hasn’t forgotten about those statistics.

They will stay in his mind all week.

One stat, in particular, will linger: 259 rushing yards and three touchdowns. That’s what BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, a gifted runner and unproven passer with talents similar to Sams, was able to produce on 17 carries two weeks ago in a 40-21 victory over Texas.

“When I first saw that, I kind of smiled about it,” Sams said. “But things are going to be a little different when Kansas State and Texas play. It’s a Big 12 matchup. I don’t think they are going to lay down for us. We aren’t going to lay down for them. I’m not going to predict anything, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing ball.”

Sams has only been used as a change-of-pace quarterback in relief of starter Jake Waters in K-State’s first three games, but that could change Saturday.

Texas is allowing 353 rushing yards per game, and has looked clueless against running quarterbacks. First, Hill carved up its defense and BYU rushed for an astounding 550 yards. Then Mississippi quarterback Bo Wallace ran for 57 yards and a touchdown with zone-read plays that also got running back Jeff Scott involved for 164 yards and a score. In all, Ole Miss totaled 272 rushing yards.

If ever there was a time for K-State coach Bill Snyder to increase Sams’ workload, or promote him to starter, this is it.

“I think anybody right now will try to run the ball against us,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “We haven’t stopped it yet. We feel like we will see a very similar game plan to what we have seen the last two weeks. We will see option, we will see power, we will see quarterback runs.

“That is what Bill Snyder has been so good at. We are not stopping it well at this point.”

On Tuesday, Sams said he would welcome the opportunity to start his first college game, but also said he will accept whatever role Snyder assigns him. So far, Sams has rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. He hasn’t been utilized much in the passing game, completing 3 of 4 passes for 27 yards. By comparison, Waters has thrown for 673 yards and four touchdowns.

Snyder admits the idea of emulating BYU and Ole Miss is tempting, so Sams could be the main contributor in K-State’s two-quarterback system. But Snyder also worries that strategy may be too predictable.

“You look at that and say OK, we’ve got quarterbacks who run the football, so you think that is what we should do,” Snyder said. “I can assure you they are smart enough at the University of Texas to understand they have had some difficulty there. I would expect to see some changes there in approaching the quarterback run game. They will defend that part of it well.

“… Daniel will certainly play. That is quite obvious. As I’ve said, it hasn’t changed week in and week out. There are certain things that you would like to be able to do. You have kind of a plan in place, but that will be dictated by the University of Texas as much as anything. Any opponent has the ability to take away what they want to take away and make you do some other things. How we utilize each of our quarterbacks is dependent upon what the University of Texas does.”

The Wildcats are preparing for every scenario.

Still, it’s hard to imagine Snyder standing pat with his two quarterbacks. Remember, he surprising gave former quarterback Collin Klein his first start against Texas in 2010. The plan worked so well that K-State ran the ball on all but four plays. The Longhorns couldn’t stop Klein, and the Wildcats ran for 261 yards in an easy win.

Will Snyder unleash another first-time starter this weekend? Or will he stick with the quarterback rotation that led K-State to 329 rushing yards last week against Massachusetts? We will have to wait and see.

In the meantime, Sams is trying to stay even-keel. He has never played in front of 100,000 fans before. Keeping his emotions in check will be crucial, regardless of how much he plays.

“We’ve got to prove ourselves no matter who the opponent is or what the situation is,” Sams said. “We have a lot of confidence and we are going to keep trying to improve on last week. We had 300-plus yards. Let’s see if we can get more this week. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is.

“Whenever I get in there I just want to make positive things happen. At the end of the game, whatever happens statistically happens. We are all just trying to go for the win.”

Facing Robinson’s defense — Texas didn’t make many obvious defensive adjustments against Mississippi, even with the return of Greg Robinson as the team’s new defensive coordinator. Robinson took over for Manny Diaz, who was reassigned after Texas lost to BYU.

Snyder expects to see more significant changes and improvement this week.

“Greg is a very fine football coach,” Snyder said. “He had a maybe not-so-good experience at Michgan, but he wasn’t running his defense at Michigan. He was running somebody else’s ... I think it was tough this past week for Greg, because he wasn’t totally invested in the terminology that goes with it. That made it difficult for him to call the game like he likes to. Now that he has had this period of time to invest in himself and understand all the terminology, I think you will see improvent just because of that.”

Interceptions a problem — Waters threw four interceptions as a sophomore at Iowa Western Community College. He has thrown five after three games with the Wildcats.

When asked about those mistakes, Snyder said Waters has occassionaly made mistakes in his pre-snap reads. He expects that to improve.

“I think he has played well with the exception of five interceptions,” Snyder said.

Madness returns — Kansas State basketball is bringing back its “Madness in Manhattan” event to celebrate the start of the season. It will be held at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 25 at Bramlage Coliseum.

The event will feature scrimmages, a dunk contest, skill competitions and the unveiling of new banners that will celebrate the history of K-State basketball.

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