Snyder learns a lot about team in 'boring' spring game

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Bill Snyder has never been the biggest fan of spring games.

In a perfect world, the veteran Kansas State coach likely would have preferred to use his final spring practice in a more controlled atmosphere than at the spring game.

But his first-string offense and defense showed some flashes as it outscored the backups, 45-0. Snyder actually flipped the score at halftime to make it more spectator-friendly after the starters on the Purple team had jumped to a 17-0 edge at the break. They punctuated the game by scoring four touchdowns in the second half.

"Have you ever seen anything as boring as that?" Snyder joked with reporters after the scrimmage concluded.

Five months have passed since Snyder accepted the rebuilding job after his three-season sabbatical. There were some bright spots in the spring game despite some rocky performances earlier in practice.

The first-string offense directed by quarterback Carson Coffman piled up 483 yards. The first-string defense was even better, limiting the KSU backups to nine first downs and 123 total yards.

"This team just needs to practice, practice, practice," Snyder said.

Here are some things that we learned during the course of the spring:

  • Coffman appeared to make some headway late in practice, but the quarterback position still remains open.

Coffman showed flashes by passing for 334 yards and three touchdowns. The four quarterbacks who alternated with the second-stringers were a combined 9-for-26 for 62 yards with two interceptions.

"We're much improved from where we were in the beginning of the spring, but we still have a lot to work on," said Coffman, who appears to have earned the respect of his team after they voted him as an offensive captain.

  • Look for South Florida transfer Grant Gregory to challenge as soon as he arrives on campus after battling Matt Grothe for the job earlier in his career with the Bulls.

And heralded junior college transfer Daniel Thomas of Northwest Mississippi Community College will get a shot, too. If Gregory emerges to challenge Coffman, we might see Thomas moved to running back to capitalize on his athletic skills.

  • One of the other bright spots of the spring was the play of freshman running back Jarell Childs, who narrowed the gap and is challenging Keithen Valentine for the starting job. Valentine finished with 92 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game and still is considered as the No. 1 contender at the position.

  • Attendance for the spring game was 12,850. But the most impressive number might have been 450 -- the number of recruits and parents who attended the game.

  • Freshman punter Ryan Doerr looked solid throughout the spring, capping his efforts by averaging 45.4 yards per punt in the spring game while kicking for both teams. Included in his barrage were long kicks of 60 and 58 yards.

That production is important for the Wildcats, particularly because incumbent D.J. Fulhage averaged only 38.1 yards per kick last season -- good for 93rd nationally.

  • Some questioned the move of Logan Dold to running back to the secondary. While we didn't get a chance to watch him play in the spring game, his athleticism will help in the secondary.

  • New defensive coordinator Vic Koenning's retooled 4-2-5 defense looks like it will be productive, although the big game might be taken with a grain of salt, considering it was against the second-stringers.

The new alignment will employ three safeties and hopefully be more productive than the group last season that was 117th in total defense, 106th in pass defense, 110th in scoring defense and 112th in rush defense.

Former walk-on linebacker Alex Hrbec accounted for a huge game with 19 tackles and Brandon Harold chipped in with nine tackles and three sacks to key the play along the defensive line.

  • Harold looks a lot more comfortable as a rush end than a defensive tackle, as was experimented at times last season.

"He was a good player last year, and I think one thing that's happened with Brandon is he's becoming a little bit more physical," Snyder told the Topeka Capital-Journal. "He's gained some weight and I think he's just about to turn the corner in the weight room. He can handle a lot of weight.

"He's gaining, and I say gaining, he's still an awfully good player. But you have to realize he was a true freshman last year, so it's in his normal progression that he should get better if he's really focused on it. He should be an improved player year in and year out. And he is making those strides and he is concerned about it -- he wants to be a good player."

Harold contributed three sacks in the spring game and appeared to be one of the most productive Wildcats.

  • Wide receiver Brandon Banks clearly looks like the Wildcats' most productive offensive player - as he was most of last season. Banks produced 141 yards on six receptions, including a 64-yard grab from Coffman for a touchdown.

"I'm pretty comfortable but we're going to get to keep working at it as the season comes along, and keep getting better every day," Banks said. "Grade-wise we are probably a C, but there is room for improvement. I think the second-team offense is improving a little bit, but everyone needs to step up and get better, including me. So we're in pretty good shape right now."

  • Snyder made a symbolic gesture during the spring game by wearing the old-school Kansas State uniforms that looked like those worn by the Dallas Cowboys. The Wildcats won't be able to wear those once the season starts because of contract obligations with Nike.

And Snyder had an interesting look himself, wearing a coat and tie as he patrolled the sidelines. His wardrobe, he said, could be attributed to not having time to change after some activities earlier in the morning.