Everything about Bill Snyder is different during Kansas State’s spring football game.
He wears a suit instead of a windbreaker, he observes more than he coaches, he lets his quarterbacks call every play, and he talks into a voice recorder instead of a headset.
For the most part, players say they like the laid-back coach they encounter each April. Still, the sight of Snyder speaking into his voice recorder can be scary.
“When you are younger and you see that, you know that you either did something bad or good,” senior safety Dante Barnett said, “You want to know what he said right then and there, but you just never know.”
Snyder will keep his players guessing at 3 p.m. Saturday when the Wildcats head to Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan., for their spring game while their home stadium undergoes construction.
K-State is expected to stick with its normal spring format of first-string players against backups and a flipped score at halftime, though Snyder said he may experiment with a new approach to special teams. He is also unsure how K-State will use Sporting Kansas City’s soccer locker rooms, which are smaller than typical football dressing spaces. Traveling and staying in a hotel beforehand, like a road game, will also feel different.
Otherwise, Snyder anticipates business as usual.
“Even though it is a different environment, it is still our 15th practice,” Snyder said. “I do not see it as a spring game. I see it as our 15th practice with some other elements involved. We tell our players that every day. They have the opportunity to move up or down our depth chart, keeping it competitive as we possibly can. This is no different.”
In hopes of maintaining that practice feel, Snyder leaves most coaching responsibilities to his assistants. Sure, he will step in and help from time to time. In the past, he has called timeouts to set up plays and speak with quarterbacks.
Other than that, he is there to watch.
“I kind of take it as a practice and record what I think, good bad or indifferent,” Snyder said. “Then we address that at halftime, after the game, and next week in our meetings and so on.”
With loads of young players and backups that would not otherwise see game action, he takes the task seriously. He gets countless thoughts on record, claiming that he once burned through eight batteries during a spring game.
“By now, I think we just take it as something he is always going to do,” linebacker Will Davis said. “You don’t know whether what you did was good or bad, but if he is looking at you with a scowl on his face and talking into the microphone at the same time, you better fix what you just did because it probably wasn’t too good.”
Added left tackle Cody Whitehair: “He can get his point across even if he is over there on the sideline talking to himself.”
He will be back at it again Saturday. This is his time to observe.
“It’s his way of making sure everyone is out there playing hard,” Barnett said. “He wants to watch the younger players and see how much they have improved. He always keeps a tally in his little recorder so he remembers what happened. He is really observant.”
K-State spring game
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sporting Park, Kansas City, Kan.
Radio: 1480-AM, 107.9-FM