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Jellison: It’s time to see if Sams can throw the ball

By Joel Jellison

Four games into the season, everyone is still asking the same question.

Can Daniel Sams throw?

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder says he can. Several of his teammates claim to have seen it done, even Sams touts his own ability to hurl the football around.

But on Saturday at Texas, Sams somehow escaped the gameplan. He didn’t even see the field in the second half. And Snyder didn’t seem to know why they never had him throw it.

It’s only fueled the debate this season. It’s one that seems to split some K-State fans in a Jake Waters vs. Sams feud. Others just seem confused by the lack of support for the team, all over the quarterback position.

The thing is, no one really understands just how good or bad Sams might be throwing the football. The sample size is so small with him — 3-of-4 passing for 39 yards — that it’s tough to judge without being inside the practices or the Vanier Complex.

We all heard Waters was an accomplished passer at the junior college ranks, and the K-State coaches said he could run it too.

Well, he can run it, sometimes — but not really. Not with the dynamic ability Sams can. Waters doesn’t possess the type of playmaking ability Sams does with his feet, or at least he hasn’t shown it.

Against the Longhorns, he showed a difficulty with running the option plays that were called for him. On read plays, especially, Waters seems to be struggling to make the correct read, or at least a timely read.

Not that Sams was any better against Texas, but his opportunities were so limited, it was as if he wasn’t on the field at all.

It seemed obvious what the plan should be going into the game against the Longhorns — run it, no, ram it, down their throats with a relentless rushing attack, led by Sams.

It was easy to assume Snyder would pull a page from the 2010 season and try to replicate the success Collin Klein had running the football. The Longhorns hadn’t stopped anybody on the ground this season.

But instead, Sams was limited, and they didn’t even attempt to keep the Longhorns honest by having him look at a pass. K-State’s offensive performance made Texas defensive coordinator Greg Robinson look like the missing link to all the Longhorns issues this season.

That can’t be though. The last time Robinson was the defensive coordinator there, he left for the Syracuse head coaching job and Texas won a national championship without him.

As the defensive coordinator at Michigan, his defenses ranked among the worst in the country, consistently.

The fact is, the K-State offense needs to be balanced to be successful. Waters can pass it well, but he doesn’t seem to be able to run well enough. At least not yet.

K-State took a guy who led a Texas Tech-like offense in the junior college ranks, and tried to turn him into something he simply might not be.

Sams, meanwhile, posseses what must be a mythical ability to throw the football. There is either something mentally or physically holding him back from more playing time, or the K-State coaches are seeing something from Waters, and not from Sams, that leads them to believe he can’t throw, and can’t lead this football team.

That doesn’t matter to anyone at this point though. The leagues of Sams fans are saying let him throw, and so are the Waters fans. Better yet, so are most Wildcat fans, period.

At least when that happens, everything can finally be put to rest. Everyone will know if Sams is truly a dual-threat, or more of a one-trick pony, that just happens to run like a deer.

Until then, the debates of Sams vs. Waters, and can Sams throw will live on. Until everyone really knows, we will all just be left to wonder — can he, or can’t he?

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