Snyder: Spring game is for the fans

By Joshua Kinder

While some schools have opted to ditch their annual spring game, it should come as no surprise that Kansas State’s Bill Snyder like things just the way they are.

“It’s for our fan base,” he said Tuesday. “I prefer to have another practice, but our fans enjoy seeing our players and seeing the environment and all those types of things. So, we will always do it in that respect for our fan base.”

Oklahoma State scrapped its scrimmage, choosing to cap its spring workouts with a simplified, 90-minute open practice. Other programs have done the same thing.

For the most part, Saturday’s spring game — beginning at 1 p.m. — is really a chance for fans to get a look at some of the new faces competing for a starting job and maybe an early glimpse of a few position changes — like Daniel Sams at receiver — but offers very little substance to write home about.

“The true spring game was last Saturday with the real scrimmage of guys,” senior defensive end Ryan Mueller said. “This Saturday is definitely for the fans. It’s a fan event. I’m excited to see all the fans and some of my friends coming to the game. Coach Snyder isn’t going to show anything. We aren’t going to reveal our whole playbook.

“It’s just a show thing, something to play with. It’s just another opportunity to work on fundamental footwork, have a feel of what it is like out there with people in the stands cheering for you with a little bit more added pressure.”

Snyder normally allows his quarterbacks to call their own plays, often resulting in inflated passing numbers you’ll probably never see once the season really gets underway in August. Defenses aren’t allowed to touch the quarterback, some guys wind up playing for both teams and Snyder typically switches the score at halftime, making the entire day even more confusing at times.

And if Snyder has his way, it’ll be that way again Saturday and many more years to come — for the fans.

“I really do think about the fan base when I go onto the field (for the spring game),” Snyder said. “How could you not — as a player and as a coach — you want to do the very best that you could possibly do for the people who care so much? You think about the little children that line the walkway going out of the locker room and you see those youngsters and you see how emphatic they are and their appreciation for the players when they come out.

“To me, that has to be inspiring for a young guy. I think about those things, but I also think about if we are ready to play or not, that is part of it.”

Of course, that’s part of it for Snyder as well. Watered down or not, the scrimmage does still serve a purpose. It’s the final practice of the spring, so Snyder is still grading and assessing what happens on the field.

“Collectively, we want to be disciplined enough not to make the foolish mistakes, whether it is assignment errors, turning the ball over, getting penalized — those types of things,” Snyder said. “It takes discipline and a conscious effort to do those things right. I think that would be No. 1. The rest of it is to stay healthy and play really hard.”

Saturday will also present newcomers with the first game-like atmosphere of their careers with fans in the seats.

“You have a lot of young guys or a few young guys who are in the program right now who have never experienced that, at least not here,” Snyder said. “With the larger groups you have that opportunity. Part of the day is to develop an understanding about gameday.

“Everything we do on Saturday will be a replica of what we will do any Saturday next fall, trying to duplicate the meetings and the pregame meals and all that goes along with it, the mental preparation and the focus.”

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