Wildcats adapting to life with two quarterbacks

By Joshua Kinder

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder always seems to have a plan for everything. He has Plan A, Plan B and Plan C, and then probably 100 more after that, preparing for every possible scenario that could conceivably take place.

Yet, jokingly, he said this week that he’s still trying to find the box of notes that outlines how to use two quarterbacks in the same game.

That’s where this team is at right now and looks to be going forward, at least in the foreseeable future — armed with a pair of quarterbacks in Jake Waters and Daniel Sams, both of which Snyder says deserve to play and be on the field.

“The bottom line of all of it is that Jake a good, young quarterback and Daniel is a good quarterback,” Snyder said. “You have two guys who deserve and need to be on the field and we have to find ways, or continue to find and cultivate ways to use both of them. I think it’s to our advantage to be able to do so, as long as we do it the right way.

“That’s not always the easiest task.”

There probably is no master plan to using two QBs and K-State certainly isn’t the first to try it. Others have, and many have failed. Sometimes, in certain situations, it’s worked out. Time will tell how this experiment works for the Wildcats, who host Massachusetts on Saturday night at 6 in their final nonconference matchup of the season.

“I think it can work,” Waters said following last Saturday’s win over Louisiana. “You just have to use us right and (the coaches) are and they did (Saturday). With Daniel coming with that change of pace, it really gave us that spark that we needed.”

Sams saw only two plays in the Wildcats’ season opener, one of which went for a 17-yard touchdown run, while Waters lit up the sky with 280 yards and a pair of long touchdown passes. Waters followed that up with another 278 yards against Louisiana, while Sams saw his most significant action of the season, rushing eight times for 63 yards and another touchdown and completing a 27-yard pass.

Snyder has used two quarterbacks before, but the outcome wasn’t always positive. The most recent attempt was the combination of Collin Klein and Carson Coffman in 2011. Going back further, he deployed two QBs during the 2005 season when Allen Webb and Allan Evridge shared the job. Marc Dunn split time with a young Ell Roberson in 2001.

This time, though, Snyder said it is different.

“This would be the first that I have this good a feeling about two of them,” Snyder said, adding that he can’t recall a time he’s had success using a two-quarterback system.

Snyder said the quarterback situation hasn’t been frustrating, yet, but that the key to handling this unique situation is finding the right opportunities for each of them to help this team win.

“It’s not frustrating for me,” he said. “What’s frustrating is performance. If you perform well, everything is fine. If you don’t, it becomes frustrating for the player, the position coach and myself. But it’s not about sitting around being frustrated. It’s about finding solutions to what the issues might be.

“If you have two young guys who couldn’t play, then it would be frustrating. But both of them have the ability to play, which is a positive thing. I feel good about them.”

Waters said both he and Sams want the same thing — it’s not about the starting job — but rather winning and having success as a team, whatever it takes.

“If you have that mindset, it’s easy to handle,” Waters said. “When I’m out there, I’m the guy and it’s my team and when he’s out there, it’s his team and he’s the guy. We know that we both want what is best for the team and that is where we are heading.”

Snyder said Waters and Sams have handled the situation as well as anyone possibly could.

“As a coach and as a person, I have truly appreciated the fact that they root for each other and help each other out because that’s what teammates are really all about,” he said. “We’ve always talked about being a good teammate and they both treat each other with respect and are good guys.”

If the Wildcats’ season opener against North Dakota State was the audition for the two-headed quarterback, then last week was the first act. But this script is still being written and it may not always be as predictable as it has seemed so far with one doing the passing and the other running.

“It kept the defense off balance because they really didn’t know what to expect,” Sams said about last Saturday’s showing. “They expect me to run the ball. There were a couple of times where I could have checked to a pass, but I just felt good on my feet tonight.”

Snyder said people are continuing to underestimate the abilities of his two quarterbacks, that it’s not a system solely based on one guy doing one thing and the other doing something else.

“People underestimate (Sams’) ability to throw the ball, just like people underestimate Jake’s ability to run the football — because you don’t see a whole lot of either one of those things take place,” he said. “I can’t tell you, and wouldn’t, how much we’re going to run it or throw it, or who with, but they have the capability to do both.”

From one receiver’s perspective, it doesn’t matter which QB is on the field — the goals remain the same.

“They’re different types of quarterbacks, but we can’t worry about who is lining up behind center,” junior Curry Sexton said. “We just have to worry about our job and what we have to do. Obviously, you saw them do some good things (Saturday). It’s a good change of pace from one of them to the other and I think you will probably continue to see that.

“But as receivers, we can’t worry about which guy is in, they both do good things for us. We just have to go out there and do our job, regardless of who is on the field.”

Tight end Zach Trujillo agreed.

“I think it’s great — it really opens up our offense,” he said. “Whoever coach thinks can get the job done on certain plays, they’ll put in there. Whoever is in, we’re going to block for them and do what we can. It doesn’t really matter who we have in.”

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