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April 24, 2010

Wildcats ready for annual spring game

Bill Snyder himself once likened the event to "watching paint dry," but thrilling or not, Kansas State's annual spring football game will be played inside the stadium that bears the head coach's name on Saturday at 6:10 p.m.

Fans will cheer, snaps will be taken and scores will be swapped. Few things are uncertain, but among them is the format. As of Monday afternoon, the division for the Intrasquad scrimmage was uncertain as Snyder tagged his splitting of the teams with a yet-to-be-determined title, adding a drop of drama to a movie Wildcat fans have seen dozens of times.

Starters vs. starters? First string vs. second? Fans will have to show up to find out, and if history serves as an indication, it will be the most intriguing question answered on the pitch.

"They haven't disclosed any of that information to us at this point," sophomore quarterback Collin Klein said of the spring game format. "We have three practices yet and that's a large percentage of spring practice as a whole. We have to stay after it and see what happens this week. Ultimately, K-State is going to win on Saturday and that's the best thing about it."

Regardless of format, the veteran head coach will stick true to form by showing only a handful of plays from scrimmage an base defensive look. Things don't figure to be exciting or project to be revealing. Saturday evening will be unmistakably Snyder-esque.

Shocking? Hardly. For all the talk about a 70-year-old head coach adapting to this and that, some philosophies remain un-tinkered with, making pontificating on how Saturday's game will play out not unlike tossing out a hypothesis on tomorrow's sunrise.

It will take place. It will be bright.

"There are no blitzes defensively, so there's a disadvantage in that respect," Snyder said. "Offensively, there's a lot of your offense that comes off the table for that game. It's just very basic offense and defense."

So aside from a loop of up-the-gut run plays mixed in with the occasional slant route, what exactly can the K-State faithful in attendance expect from the 2010 version of the scrimmage?

"It's a good practice for us," offensive lineman Zach Kendall said. "We want to get as much practice as we can. It's always fun playing in front of fans and hopefully giving them a show, but we hope to get something out of it as well and improve our team."

Of course it will also allow those in attendance to form there own opinions on certain situations, not the least of which will be K-State's quarterback competition, a race for the starting job between Klein and senior Carson Coffman. A scrimmage that will allot each limited snaps and come with skin-tight restraints isn't likely to decide anything, but, if nothing else, the duo's performance under center will show K-State fans about the talent-level with which the squad is working.

"It's obviously a huge opportunity," Klein said. "I've gotten better and our team has gotten better. it's an opportunity and you want to take advantage of those opportunities."

Also being provided an opportunity are those that suit up on the defensive side of things. Snyder has tabbed his linebackers, cornerbacks and defensive linemen as "inconsistent" at varying points during spring workouts, leaving one or more starting spot in each group hanging in the balance.

So while the head coach says the public scrimmage is "another practice", and a limited one at that, how players react to spotlight, however dim, will play at least some part in how he views not just his defense, but the roster as a whole.

"You're looking at how well your youngsters can retain their focus, how long they can stay into a ballgame, how much attention they're paying when they're not on the field, how well they execute their fundamentals, techniques and assignments and that you don't get penalized and that you have enough discipline not to turn the ball over."

In the end, Saturday's event is one Snyder bills as "for the fans." The players on the roster, on the other hand, are equipped with a different view. Sure blitzes and in-depth schemes will be absent, but, If nothing else, for one practice in late April, everyone will be allowed to view the fruits of their labor.

Apparently, the excitement in watching drying paint is vantage-point dependent.

"We've been working," defensive end Josh Berard said. "We never stop. It feels like we're on football 24/7. We're really excited for the spring game."



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