K-State QB Skylar Thompson on new coordinators Andre Coleman, Blake Seiler
The Kansas State football team is bound to look different next season with a pair of first-time coordinators calling plays on both sides of the ball.
Andre Coleman will make changes on offense and Blake Seiler will put his stamp on the defense. Those are givens. How big will their alterations be? That’s the million-dollar question of the offseason.
We won’t get a definitive answer until games begin in September, but K-State players are already seeing subtle differences in spring practice.
“We are going to be a balanced offense, and we are going to try and play fast and have success,” K-State junior quarterback Alex Delton said. “I am confident in Coach Coleman. I know he is confident and Coach (Bill) Snyder is confident in him. I know we are headed on the right path. We have had a great start to spring ball.”
Fast is not a word most used to describe K-State’s offense under former coordinator Dana Dimel, now the coach at Texas-El Paso. The Wildcats are well known for taking such a methodical approach that they often risk delay-of-game penalties.
Perhaps a faster tempo is on the way.
“We are trying to play fast and move fast,” Delton said. “We are trying to be a very efficient offense. That is something Coach Coleman brings to the table.”
Snyder promoted Coleman, a former K-State receiver, to offensive coordinator after spending five years on staff as the receivers coach. Quarterbacks coach Collin Klein and offensive line coach Charlie Dickey will assist him as co-coordinators, but Coleman will call the shots.
That could mean a full departure from Dimel’s offense, which utilized fullbacks and featured a large amount of QB keepers. Or, more likely, it could mean a similar approach with a few twists.
“There will definitely be some changes. That’s for sure. But I don’t think they will be too drastic,” K-State junior running back Alex Barnes said. “We will be a little more detail oriented. Coach Coleman has some stuff drawn up. I don’t want to share too much. There won’t be too much change, but the changes you see will be positive.”
Snyder said experimenting with new plays and formations is what spring practice is all about.
Snyder’s offense has changed quite a bit over the years. Early on, the Wildcats were pass-oriented behind quarterbacks such as Chad May and receivers Kevin Lockett and Coleman.
Later, K-State changed things up to take advantage of Michael Bishop’s dual-threat capabilities and leaned heavily on its quarterbacks to run the ball out of the shotgun. More recently, we’ve seen the Wildcats air it out with Jake Waters and keep it on the ground with Klein.
Snyder says K-State’s playbook never changes, but they emphasize different sections of it each year based on personnel. For now, he isn’t predicting a major switch.
“Not very much in the way of change, but we are looking at some things on both sides of the ball at this point in time,” Snyder said. “It looks like some of it will fit and have some carry over, and some of it obviously will not. That is pretty consistent with past springs.”
Bigger changes could take place on defense.
While the Wildcats return their entire offensive line, running backs corps, two capable quarterbacks and a pair of starting receivers, the defense has some holes to fill.
K-State lost its top two tacklers at linebacker, its best defensive lineman and a standout cornerback.
Seiler, a former K-State defensive end who has coached under Snyder since 2009, will make changes in both personnel and formations. Not only is he different from former defensive coordinator Tom Hayes, he has the help of new secondary coach Brian Norwood.
“They are doing some different schemes and giving us some different looks, which I think is very good for us,” K-State sophomore quarterback Skylar Thompson said. “We are so used to how Coach Hayes orchestrated the defense and their schemes and stuff like that you kind of get photograph memory.”
“On this formation, they are going to do this play. You can kind of look at the nickel safety and say, ‘OK, now I know what coverage I am getting. With Seiler and Norwood, they are doing a lot better job of mixing up different looks and disguising coverage and bluffing in and out of stuff to make it hard on us, which is how it is during a game. It has been great.”
Perhaps the biggest changes of all will take place off the field.
Coleman (45) and Seiler (34) are considerably younger than Dimel (55) and Hayes (69). They can relate to everyone on the team, particularly as former K-State players.
“Coach Coleman, he brings a lot of energy,” Thompson said. “He is a high-vocal guy at practice, and he expects us to be perfect. That is the kind of mindset we have. You are going to make mistakes, but if you make a mistake make it 100 miles an hour. That is kind of the mindset we are going to have, and I am looking forward to it.”
No matter how different K-State looks next season, Snyder likes the vibe of his new-look coaching staff.
“The continuity has been excellent,” Snyder said. “There were no ruffles in the continuity. We went from the season to the out-of-season and to spring football very smoothly. I like the way they work together, that includes not just the new coaches but the returning coaches, as well … They all have an impact.”