Kansas State Spring Game: WAY too early to panic

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

K-State held their annual Spring Game Saturday. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't flashy. The replay has been submitted for FDA approval as a non-habit forming sleep aid. It's April and it's Bill Snyder, so we really don't know anything. But let's pretend, shall we?

The wind blew, the sun peaked in and out through thin clouds and my ADHD made it difficult for me to pay attention to an overly dull spring game. It’s hard to know what one can glean from a scrimmage four months before the first game, especially when said scrimmage is so full of sweet, carbohydrate infused vanilla that by the third quarter, you’re lucky if you aren’t immersed in the depths of a Mangino-sized sugar crash.

We all had questions. We wanted to know things. We wanted a sense of security about our football team. Security provided by a spring game might amount to nothing more than applying an ADT sticker to the front window of your house without installing the whole system, but it’s something. Instead, this game put the sticker on the window, made sure it stuck well, then tore it off fast and careless, leaving behind that white, streaky paper residue that just doesn’t come off without some industrial strength cleaner.

Not that I expected much more from our wonderful ball coach. After all, if a wizard tries to out-wizard his own wizardry, I’m certain that any fool within a four-foot radius gets turned inside out like Drew Barrymore in the first death scene of Scream.

If one can, in fact, glean some truth from a spring game, then one thing is particularly truthy. The depth chart is about as solid as Charlie Weis’ college waterbed. The folks in the white jerseys, loosely referred to as the second team, performed much better in spots than did the supposed starters in purple. Running back Jarvis Leverett showed no fear, lowering his shoulder and driving through the middle of the purple defensive line. His counterpart Charles Jones appeared more apt to run around the outside and seemed less intense after contact.

Jones finished with more yards on the day and did have several solid touches, but Leverett averaged over a yard more per carry against a more proven defense. Thanks to several nagging injuries, we didn’t get a chance to see the progress of 87th year running back DeMarcus Robinson, so we’re yet to get a full picture of the position. Still, I’d bet there’s a fair chance we’ll see Jarvis Leverett trot out with the first team against Stephen F. Austin.

Next comes the question of Daniel Sams. What are you, Mr. Sams? Are you a quarterback? Are you a wide receiver? Are you an alien with a rubber pelvis sent to tease us all with seductive jukes and high-steps? There’s no way of knowing for sure. Clearly still a work in progress, Sams had two catches for nine yards and had difficulty creating downfield separation. Answers will come in time with regard to where he fits in this offense. To think he’ll have no impact would deny his already proven athletic gifts.

In the absence of Tyler Lockett, other receivers also had a chance to step up. Curry Sexton led the way, looking solid aside from one early drop. Deante Burton finally got a fair amount of exposure and looks like the clear leader for the third slot on the depth chart. Zach Trujillo played a significant role in the passing game as well. Hopefully this means we can expect to see the tight end back as a prominent offensive threat. The white squad moved the ball effectively but aside from a 51 yard pass from Joe Hubener to Judah Jones, the passing game wasn’t all that electrifying for either side.

Jake Waters threw one bad interception but performed well otherwise, completing 68 percent of his passes and getting into something of a rhythm late. Hubener looked like the better of the two backups, seeming more confident with better arm strength than freshman Jesse Ertz. Ertz played well and never looked especially shaken, but Hubener’s comfort level in the offense just seems higher at this point.

The purple offensive line showed rust at times and never exerted any dominance over the white defense. One can hope this is more a product of unfamiliarity with each other at this point that can iron itself out by fall.

Defensively, things seemed to take shape as the game wore on. White were able to convert six of 10 third downs and were never held to a three and out in the first half. After the break though, Purple held White to three straight and only allowed one conversion. No one player seemed to stand out on either side but a few had their moments. Nate Jackson’s interception was promising for the White, and Randall Evans registered eight tackles and delivered some big hits for the Purple. Charmeachealle Moore finished just behind Evans with six take-downs and emerged as the leader of a questionable linebacking corps. Ryan Mueller made his presence known as well, tallying four tackles—all for loss—with three of them called sacks.

But the game ball has to go to eight-year-old Kaiden Schroeder, who scampered for a thirty yard touchdown late in the third frame. Schroeder got his very own Rudy moment, as the entire K-State team hoisted him on their shoulders to a standing ovation from the fans.

While it may have induced more yawns than past spring games, it revealed enough promise to please those who didn’t approach it with too much cynicism. Yes, certain elements did justify my ADT sticker analogy, but Bill Snyder deserves our faith that real football isn’t played in April. I’d rather have the sticky residue on the window than get fooled into thinking we’re safe until the real test comes in August.

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