With our preview of Kansas State’s defensive line out of the way, we can turn our attention to the Wildcat offense. After an impressive offensive year in 2012, K-State will return eight offensive starters from last year’s squad, but have a few important replacements to make.
First amongst those to be replaced is quarterback Collin Klein. Klein compiled a laundry list of awards and achievements in 2012, winning the Kellen Moore Award for top quarterback, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award for top senior quarterback, Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, and finished third in Heisman trophy voting. Needless to say he leaves behind a big pair of shoes to be filled.
Right now there are two quarterbacks battling it out to step into those shoes: the 6-foot-2, 207-pound sophomore, Daniel Sams, and 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior, Jake Waters. Both certainly have the qualifications for the job, it’s a matter of who coach Bill Snyder decides on—a decision that likely won’t be known until Kansas State’s opening drive against North Dakota State University.
Sams appeared 8 times last season in impressive fashion, setting the Kansas State freshman record for quarterback rushing yards with 235, picking up three touchdowns on his 32 c
His arm, for example, is relatively untested. He threw only eight times as a freshman, completing six of those passes for 55 yards. Sams impressed in Kansas State’s spring game, connecting on 18 of 28 passes for 391 yards and four touchdowns, but that’s to be taken with a grain of salt given the defense he was facing.
His lack of big-game experience is fair criticism, with most of Sams’ experience coming in late game situations against lesser opponents when games were all but decided. Despite his lack of game experience, Sams is the quarterback with the most knowledge of Bill Snyder’s offense as he enters into his third season as a Wildcat.
Coming into the season playing catch-up on learning that system is the junior college transfer, Jake Waters. While he’s less familiar with the offense, what he lacks in knowledge of the system he can make up for in talent. Waters joins the Wildcats as the reigning National Junior College Offensive Player of the Year, coming off an incredible season at Iowa Western Community College. His junior college stats are impressive—Waters set a junior college national record for completion percentage, completing 73.3% of his 333 passes. Aside from his accuracy, Waters threw for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions during his time in community college.
He impressed during K-State’s spring game as well, his accuracy on display as he completed 14 of his 18 passes for 249 yards, including a 76-yard completion to Tyler Lockett. As is the case with Sams, however, Waters is untested against FBS opponents.
Whoever wins out for the starting position will be tested early on, as the Wildcats open Big 12 play against Big 12 frontrunners Texas in Austin and Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Snyder will no doubt choose the player who is less likely to hurt the Wildcats with turnovers and who can turn in consistent performances with good decision making. We’ll find out which player that is in just under a week.
Next we’ll take a look at the running back position for the Wildcats, as the 2013 season is nearly upon us.