The hottest question since last season ended has been who would replace Collin Klein as Kansas State’s quarterback.
K-State coach Bill Snyder had a clever answer for which of the two players competing for the spot — Daniel Sams and Jake Waters — would be the first to take a snap during the Wildcats’ spring game at 1:10 p.m. Saturday.
“It depends on the coin toss, which team is on the field first,”he said.
It’s likely that both quarterbacks will get plenty of time on the field on Saturday, as the Wildcats conclude the spring with their 15th practice and still no solid answers in the quarterback battle.
Sams is the more experienced player in terms of the offense, getting on the field last season as Klein’s backup. But Waters was the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year at Iowa Western, and a player who is bringing instant competition to a position that once looked to be setup for Sams to take without a fight.
As the team goes into its final practice, Snyder said both guys still have much to work on.
“I think nothing has really changed in terms of quarterbacks,” he said. “They have their good moments and not so good moments, both of them. Both of them have done some very fine things, both of them have done some things they’d like to have back.”
For Waters, it’s been sort of like hitting the ground running since he arrived on campus in January. The junior college transfer has been working to pick up the offense, and said he’s had plenty of help along the way, including from the player he’s directly competing with.
“There’s a lot to learn, obviously, in this offense and coach (Del) Miller has been doing a great job of getting me and the other quarterbacks to learn and get comfortable,” he said. “Daniel has been helping me a lot. Every time we’re on the field he’s helping me, and that means a lot to me that he’s doing that in the midst of this competition.”
The information gathering goes beyond that for Waters, whose roommate is wide receiver Curry Sexton. Waters credits Sexton with helping him learn, and being a guy whose brain he can always pick.
But it goes even further than that for Waters and all of the quarterbacks. As he prepares for the NFL Draft, Klein has been in Manhattan to work with Sams and Waters and help prepare both to be the Wildcats’ next starting quarterback.
From the way Waters describes it, if an NFL career doesn’t work out for Klein, he seems to have a future in coaching.
“Collin’s been great,” he said. “Having a guy like Collin around, that’s obviously one of the greats — he’s been more than happy to help me and I’ve just been picking his brain just like anyone else because he knows this offense, he’s almost like a coach out there. He’s been nice enough to spend some fill time with me and help me in any way possible.”
Although no quarterback has distanced themselves from the other, Snyder said they have been happy with the progress that Waters has made as he plays catch up in learning the offense.
“He’s an intelligent guy, he works diligently at it, mechanically he’s sound at what he does, he’s learning the process, he’s learning how to make decisions in an environment and in a schematic reference that’s different that what he’s accustomed to,” he said. “He’s making some mistakes based on just not having enough experience in the system, but I’m pleased with the good things he’s done.”
Waters said he has used every ounce of free time he gathers to study the offense, rather it be through his iPad or talking to Sexton and other teammates. He said Miller tells him he still needs to work on everything as they move from the spring to the summer.
At Iowa Western, Waters was accustomed to running an offense that was fast paced and spread it out more than K-State often does. Waters said the biggest thing he’s working on is picking up an offensive system based on making reads and adjusting to the defense.
But if the season were to start tomorrow, Waters is candidly honest in saying he wouldn’t be ready to talk the reins.
“I’m not ready, right now with the offense,” Waters admitted. “I think I’m making strides, but with how much you’ve got to learn, I’m just trying to get better. I just take it one day at a time, because I’m making my fair share of mistakes. But I think I’m getting better.”