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Roundtable: Let go, and let LIFE

It is time for Kansas State's coaches to get their stuff together and figure out how to better use Jake Waters and Daniel Sams. Our panel discusses this, linebacker experience versus talent and how hurtful Big 12 offenses might be later this year.

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Let's start with the two-headed elephant in the room. Bill Snyder said during Monday's Big 12 Coaches teleconference that both Jake Waters and Daniel Sams have played well enough to be Kansas State's quarterback. So, what's a legendary coach to do?

Jon: Easy. Play them both. The problem's going to be managing it without falling into preset patterns which effectively dictate the offense based on who's on the field. The Cats are going to have to be a threat to run with Waters on the field, and Sams is going to have to establish himself as a passer. One big key, though: at this juncture, I think Snyder's going to have to recognize that if Waters makes a mistake, Sams has to play the next series and give Jake time to shake off the miscue. This can be handled properly in order to maintain Waters' confidence; if it's not, Sams is going to end up with the job.

Derek: I'm with Jon that they need to be on the field at the same time. I think we'll see that in Austin. I think Waters can run and Sams can pass well enough to pull it off without becoming too predictable. I still say we're going to see things from this offense that we've never seen before at K-State.

Anon:  Sams inside the 20 and Waters anywhere else?  I'm not sure there is a good solution.  Somebody will be upset regardless of how he handles it.  If they actually are coaching the players then as Jon mentioned, extra coaching after a mistake can help both players.

TB: In an open field that can be stretched vertically, Waters is the call. He has the arm to stretch a defense sideline-to-sideline and vertically, and with Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson, he has the weapons to do it, too. But when the vertical field shrinks and ability to make one-on-one plays becomes more important, bring Sams in. Design a package of pass plays with relatively simple reads for those situations to keep defenses honest. Profit.

AA: Full disclosure: Aesthetically, I prefer dual-threat QBs. Blame video games, Bishop, Klein, whatever. But last week seemed fairly close to what we should see. Waters as the starter, and Daniel Sams as a unique and valuable weapon. But I still would love to see Sams in for a whole series or two and maybe trying some tough passes this Saturday. He should certainly be used more in games against teams that can't stop the run (*cough* Texas *cough*).

Kitchen: What I'm hearing from you all is that this "easy" fix really isn't easy at all. Isn't that lovely? It's easy to say that both need to be on the field. It's easy — I'm comfortable saying this now, I think — to see that both guys clearly are playmakers. What's not easy, however, is that the game still only allows one football on the field at a time. Also, if I had the power to do so, I'd squash all talk, like forever, about using Sams as a running back. He's far too valuable (and talented) to have K-State to get him killed in some stretched out effort to get him on the field. Don't think so? I'd rather watch Miley Cyrus twerk on loop than consider KSU's third-string QB situation.

All that said, I love me some Waters. I think he's all-conference caliber. But, I also think Sams, and his almost 10 yards per play average, has proven his worth. Waters should remain the starter for now, but the coaches need to let go and let LIFE.

What's your reaction to the seemingly large-scale indecision by KSU coaches with regard to having a plan for best using Waters and Sams at different times in a game?

Jon: Bafflement? Irritation? Resignation? I mean, I know Bill Snyder's adaptable. I know he's got to be working on making this situation flow properly. To an extent, I have faith that he's working through this in his way and will come to a solution to a hard problem, and I know he's trying not to be blindly predictable... but at the same time it's frustrating as hell to see him use the wrong guy in clearly the wrong situation.

Derek: The decisions have been frustrating, but they didn't change last week. Sams played more but mostly out of the same package. Better defense and special teams won against the Cajuns. I think there's a method to the madness. Opposing coaches are just as confused as we are.

Anon:  I've wondered about the decisions by the coaching staff more than once, so this is no different.  I still am not sure why the molasses sweep is in the playbook.  I say make a decision and stick with it.  Maybe they have internally and this is just gamesmanship for those external to the program.

TB: It's pretty complicated stuff. Based on the comments before the season, I think the coaches expected Waters would be a more effective runner than he has been. But while we can't win with literally no running game, Mike Leach certainly tried his best. And did it with approximately the same caliber talent K-State has. We can beat defenses without much of a running game if we commit to it. I'm not sure we can beat defenses, especially defenses with Big 12 athletes, with Sams just trying to out-juke everyone.

AA: This does seem a little surprising. I mean, we've had these guys for a while now, right? These coaches are paid to look ahead and make tough decisions. Sure, some things can't be known until games, but come on, they should have at least had some sort of plan. I haven't seen much evidence they did.

Kitchen: I said as much above, but in detail, there is no reason why Sams can't be an every third series type at the bare minimum. This random, specific play thing a couple of times a game that we've seen is garbage, and I think the coaches realize this by now. I mean, I hope they do anyways.

Again, coaches: Let go, and let LIFE.

Quarterback isn't the only position that seems to have its log-jam problems. We've seen the starting, more-experienced linebackers, and we've seen the faster, play-making backups. Knowing how sophisticated Big 12 offenses are, how would you approach KSU's personnel on the second level?

Jon: Let's be clear about two things: one, Blake Slaughter and Tre Walker are liabilities against speed. Two, Blake Slaughter and Tre Walker are leaders. Those two statements inherently conflict. But there's a solution. Get them rotating in and out. We can't afford them both out there against speed, but we need at least one of them out there to at least try and be the leader of the corps. Play the younger, faster guys alongside them. Side benefit, it keeps both Slaughter and Walker fresh.

Derek: I hate to speak ill of Tre, but I'm not sold on the idea that his leadership is enough. He was nearly invisible last week and has only four tackles through two games. I say replace him with speed. Truman hasn't been especially impressive either. Slaughter has been everywhere. He's slow but he knows how to get to the ball.

Anon:  Play who ever is successful.  Not a fan of the play folks because they've been in the program.

TB: This is the definition of a bad problem to have. Play the younger, faster, more athletic guys who are going to run themselves out of plays more often than we'd like. Or play the older, more assignment-sound guys who aren't as athletically gifted? There isn't a good solution here, and the fans will be calling for whoever is not playing, simply because they're not the ones currently making the mistakes.

AA: You mention how sophisticated Big 12 offenses are, but they're also very athletic. Plus, other than Tre Walker, the experience out there isn't exactly great, and he's not the same Tre Walker from two years ago. No matter who you put out there, this defense is going to allow some yards. Let's go with the guys most likely to make drive-stopping plays.

Kitchen: If the starting unit was a golfing foursome playing ahead of me, I'd already have hit into them. That's how irritating it is, and an indictment of how spoiled I got watching the fastest linebacker I've ever seen in person (in terms of closing speed, Arthur Brown was a freaking velociraptor) the past few years. I don't think there is a solution here other than to pray to the 3-in-1 spirit of Simoneau, Brown & Buhl that the young guys get it figured out sooner than later.

On the assumption that the secondary guys we've seen are the guys we're going to get, who is smiling more this week: Art Briles, Mike Gundy or Kliff Kingsbury?

Jon: Briles. I think, to an extent, we can handle an air game. But Baylor's set up to just gash us left and right and run crazy through the secondary and excuse me my lunch suddenly isn't agreeing with me brb

Derek: Briles without a doubt. Dudebro has exceeded expectation to be sure, but Briles is a proven commodity with an experienced offense and a killer instinct. I fear Bears.

Anon:  Kingsbury, he probably has Leaches' TXT playbooks for games against K-State memorized.

TB: Briles. Baylor hasn't played good competition, but we know the Bears can expose any flaw. We're going to end up chasing our tails, and Lache Seastrunk, all day on October 12th.

AA: Kingsbury. Briles probably believes (with good reason) his offense can destroy anyone, and TT will really need to beat K-State after back-to-back losses to the Oklahoma schools.

Kitchen: 780. 650. 461. Passing yards, through two weeks, for Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State starting QBs, respectively. Combined completions:  138/184 (.750). 15 TD. 0 INT. My head hurts. Frankly, I don't think it matters among the three this year. All of them are fan-freaking-tastic at what they do, and I'm not sure what KSU can do other than go on repeated 10-minute drives, to fight those air raids.

It's been a few weeks, but thoughts on the news that, on the same day all of the brand new bells and whistles were unveiled at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the classic scoreboards in the south endzone didn't work because cables were cut during construction; the boards are so old that replacement parts aren't available; and the original designer (now retired) had to be tracked down and consulted on a hopeful temporary fix? Long story short, part of the stadium malfunctioned on opening week.

Jon: Well, at least the camera risers were right where they were supposed to be. It's clear that parts of the job were rushed to get done on time, and obviously there are going to be bugs. Let's hope they're all ironed out by the time the Cats get back from their little road trip.

Derek: As a campus employee, I know K-State has its share of duct tape just like anything else. Sometimes it seems like nothing ever goes as planned. If it were a JumboTron I'd be concerned, but I haven't even noticed those things weren't working.

Anon:  They tend to ignore my suggestions, but we have a department of Electrical Engineering that could probably figure out a solution.  Athletics is good at the shiny stuff, but they are not always good at the stuff underneath the shiny stuff.  Maybe it is because of the size of the org, but more likely they don't have someone with the right skill set to manage that sort of thing.

TB: It kind of sucks, but these boards aren't a huge priority, and they still worked just fine before this season, so they didn't get replaced. Stuff happens on a big construction project. If that's the worst problem we have on this big of a project that was under significant time pressure, then we got pretty lucky.

AA: Sounds like a sign maybe those scoreboards should be upgraded, right? Should be chump change compared to the rest of the project, and they can use the money they're saving by not fielding a soccer team. Yeah, I will always bring that up whenever possible. This is karma.

Kitchen: I admit it, from time to time, when K-State rolls out something massively cool, the perfectionist in me catches myself wondering how they are going to "KSU" the thing and find a way to slide a little bit of "yeah, we almost got it right" into the mix. I agree that the scoreboards aren't really a huge deal moving forward, but, for me, it still had that tinge of "almost" to it. But, hey, the stadium looks fantastic overall, and it's not like Millie's daddy is gonna come take those improvements away.*

*Oh yes, I totally figured out a way to make a Bull Durham reference in a college football discussion. I win.