Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Snyder hopes Klein plays Saturday

You can’t place your bets in Las Vegas just yet, but it appears Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein just might play this Saturday at TCU after all.

Three days after apparently suffering a concussion, at least on some level, K-State coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday that he hopes his prized quarterback would play when the undefeated and second-ranked Wildcats travel to Fort Worth, Texas, for a 6 p.m. kickoff on FOX.

It’s not a definite answer, of course, but it does look somewhat better than it did last Saturday night when Klein exited the 44-30 win over Oklahoma State in the third quarter and did not return.

“Would I expect him to play? I certainly hopes that’s the case and I would expect that to take place,” Snyder said.

But that’s not all the coach had to say Tuesday, either. Snyder tried to address his longtime policy to not discuss injuries, amidst national interest in the future of the perceived Heisman Trophy frontrunner.

“I understand your position, I truly do understand you have work to carry out and a job to do, but so do I,” Snyder said to the media during the weekly news conference. “My interest in our players is beyond football and I always want to do the right thing for young people in our program… I don’t want to put any young person in any undue jeopardy whatsoever and that’s why I don’t address injuries. I’ve tried not to, probably said more than I should on some occasions.”

Klein, who had 309 yards of total offense and a touchdown against the Cowboys, did not address the media Tuesday, at the direction of Snyder.

“He would have been here and was perfectly comfortable with coming and visiting,” Snyder said. “I didn’t want to put him through that because I know the bombardment that he would have to endure.”

But if Klein can’t go against TCU and Snyder’s public optimism was nothing more than a smokescreen, Saturday’s game could fall into the hands of redshirt-freshman quarterback Daniel Sams.

The Slidell, La., native completed 5-of-6 passes for 45 yards and rushed seven times for another 20 yards on Saturday in his first significant game experience this season after primarily appearing in mop-up duty at the end of blowouts.

On the year, the 6-foot-4, 204-pound Sams is 6-for-8 for 55 yards passing and fourth on the team in rushing with 235 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 7.3 yards per carry.

So is Sams ready to take the reins of an offense that’s been among the best in the country this season?

“He’s become more invested in what’s going on and I think he’s become a better learner,” Snyder said. “He’s worked with Coach (Del) Miller and with Collin, and I think that has helped him immensely, just to be more intense about his preparation week in and week out. He’s made some headway in that respect.”

But at the end of the day, Sams’ future progression at the position will rest on getting more game experience, preferably not at Klein’s expense due to an injury.

“And I think the rest of it — he did a nice job, for the most part, in the ballgame… managed the game well enough, ran OK. And that comes with experience. The more opportunities you have, the better you have a chance to get, if you’re interested in becoming better, and I think he is.”

Senior tight end Travis Tannahill said he’s seen a change, perhaps more maturity, in Sams this season as the true backup preparing to be the starter of the future, even if that’s Saturday.

“He’s definitely put in the time and effort it takes,” he said. “You’re always one snap away… With Daniel, the twos don’t get quite as many snaps as the ones get, so they aren’t going to be quite as ready. But mentally, he’s got to be able to play, especially with the type of offense we run with Collin running the ball so much — the risk for injury is greater than some other programs.”

Senior running back Angelo Pease, who rushed nine times for 71 yards Saturday, has all the faith in what Sams can do if his number is called again this week.

“I have a lot of confidence in Daniel,” he said. “I’ve been around the guy two years now and I’ve seen what he can do and know what he can do. I put my trust in him.

“He can make all the throws Collin makes.”

Tannahill said Sams has all the tools to be great.

“In practice, even (Monday), he was doing great,” he said. “He’s got the physical tools to be great, like some of the other past quarterbacks in this program. He’s a freshman. He’s going to make some mistakes. Collin wasn’t ready as a freshman. There’s no quarterback in big-time college football that’s going to be ready as a freshman.”

“It’s going to take time after Collin graduates this year, and if all goes according to plan, it should be Daniel’s spot. He’ll develop and definitely do good things in this program.”

Chapman honored

K-State senior cornerback Allen Chapman picked up his third honor following the Oklahoma State game Tuesday, as he was named the Bronko Nagurski National Defensive Player of the Week, the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) announced.

With the honor by the FWAA, Chapman has been added to the watch list for the Nagurski Trophy, extending K-State’s school record of award candidates to 18. Earlier in the week, Chapman was named the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week and the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week.

In the Wildcats’ victory over the Cowboys, Chapman hauled in three interceptions, batted away two other passes and tallied five tackles. His three interceptions were tied for the most in a single game in Big 12 history, while they were tied for the second most in school history and were the most in a single game by a Wildcat since 1995.

He returned his first pick 29 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, while he had one later in the quarter that halted an OSU drive in K-State territory. His final interception came in the end zone late in the fourth quarter with K-State clinging to its 14-point lead.


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