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Roundtable: How sick is K-State football?

How damning has the 2-2 start been? Is it fixable?

Ronald Martinez

Let's cut to the chase: The 2-2 start to the 2013 Kansas State football season has left many in some state of bewilderment. On a bye week, we dig through just how damning the start has been, if it's fixable and who might  be driving the boat at season's end... literally.

Your reaction to the following exchange between a reporter and Bill Snyder during this past Monday's Big 12 Coaches teleconference:

Reporter: "Obviously, there was a QB battle coming into the year, and you played both of them. Have you guys struggled at all in terms of trying to find out exactly how you want to play offense at this point with having a guy who can throw the ball — you ran Jake [Waters] 18 times the other night — has it been a struggle to find exactly what your identity is this year?"

Bill Snyder: "Well, I don't ... to answer the question forthrightly is probably yes. We haven't totally made a dramatic distinction in regards to exactly how we do it. I think we have an idea of how we want to do it. Game conditions sometimes alter that — I say sometimes, virtually all the time they alter that. As I've said so many times, both of [the quarterbacks] are very capable young guys. Both of them really have the capacity to guide our football team. Both of them deserve to be on the field. It's being able to define, exactly, how to do it without being too, uh, tendency prone as it relates to how the defense defines what we're doing."

Derek: All I can say is there needs to be a distinction made between what is "deserved" and what is needed. K-State needs wins. If both of these players are needed to win, then that's fine. If not, what they deserve shouldn't matter.

Jon: Seems to me he can answer his own question. Using Sams as something other than a quarterback while Waters is on the field? That negates all tendencies, because the defense is going to be terrified of loading for the wrong call. Letting (or, if the problem is Sams himself, telling him to freakin' do it) would go a long way toward that end as well.

TB: As a general rule, I don't try to read too much into what Bill Snyder says, because I think he tends to talk a lot without really saying anything. It's a great way to get a press conference over without giving up anything substantive.

But based on this and other comments, it's clear there's either a schism between the offensive coaches about what to do, or they haven't figured out what they want to do. Same net result, really. If it doesn't get settled, we're going to have an inconsistent offense the rest of the season, and that's not going to work with the defense we're putting out there.

Kitchen: I agree with TB for the most part in terms of a lot of wasted words done on purpose. Vintage Snyder. However, it bothers me that the product on the field is living up to those words. For a few weeks, I really thought it was blatant indecision on the coaches' part. That, perhaps incorrectly, assumed coaches were trying to achieve the same things. I don't get that feeling now. Not when Daniel Sams isn't allowed to even attempt one lousy controlled pass to the flat, let alone down the field. That's after, as Snyder put it, "game conditions" screamed that Texas was gearing up to stop Sams on the run, which he torched them with until it was obvious no pass calls were coming from upstairs.

Blatant stupidity, and I hope whatever caused that left those responsible happy because they wasted one out of only 12 chances they get this year to prove why they should continue to be paid as coaches.

And, get off my lawn.

Based on what you've seen, read and heard, does K-State, and its bio-listed 235 years of coaching experience, have the sort of grasp regarding its issues that makes you think a good fix is on its way?

Derek: I'm done hoping there's a fix. I'm just gonna go with no until I actually see something new.

Jon: I think they're just too immobile to change it. Bill Snyder's older than my mother, and she still refuses to accept that it's 2013 and she can't just do things like give me her card to take her car in to be worked on because I'm not her. She knows perfectly well it doesn't work that way anymore, she understands it, and yet she still does it. I think the staff knows what's going on; they're just frozen and can't change it.

TB: There's still a chance. When Bill Snyder came back, you could see changes in his offense. Run-pass options, play action off zone read, things like that. And it's not like we have to revolutionize the playbook for either Jake Waters or Daniel Sams. But we do have to decide which one we're going with, and then design game plans to their particular strength.

Kitchen: I mean, the plays (and correct time to call them) have to be in that (bleeping) book somewhere, right? Anyways... Back to the inexplicable reasons for certain plays called at certain times with certain players, if what we're watching is a whizzing contest between coaches, then ... whatever. Just whatever. None of the rest of this conversation matters. I don't want to believe that could even be a possibility, but I've been in sports too long to completely dismiss the notion.

Is K-State's current situation something that could have been avoided, in your mind? As it is now, would you describe KSU's ailment as a "24-hour bug" or chronic?

Derek: We all can be Sunday morning quarterbacks and assume we know what this team needs better than the people who get paid to know, but when it comes down to it, we don't. I'd like to think it could have been avoided, but I really don't know. And until some symptoms go away, I'm going to say this is probably chronic.

Jon: Anything's avoidable, but in this case I do think it would have required hindsight. There's a reason Jake Waters is the starting quarterback. There's a reason the experienced guys are playing on defense despite the newbies being faster and stronger. I don't think any of this would have changed absent a crystal ball.

TB: No, it wasn't avoidable. There was no reason to think it needed avoiding. We absolutely needed some depth and competition at quarterback, and Waters was the junior college national player of the year. As long as you think you can tweak your offense to that, you take him. Maybe I'm hopelessly optimistic, but I still think this is a temporary bug. The answers seem so blindingly obvious. Choose which one of your talented quarterbacks to use, then let them do what they do best. If it doesn't work, at least you went with your best.

Kitchen: Nothing short- or long-term can be fixed if those involved don't admit there's a problem. Refusing to let a guy throw a pass in a game is a problem. Running a largely non-running guy nearly 20 times in a game is a problem. Most of all, the decisions to try and force those types of things, for whatever reason, is the problem. Stop that, first, and then we can better diagnose just how deep the (if any) real afflictions run.

The next time Mack Brown and Bill Snyder go on vacation together, who wears boarder shorts, who wears the awkward old guy speedo, and in what color? And, who gets to captain the boat?

Derek: I still think Bill is the Captain. He leads the overall series. Mack seems like he might be the old guy speedo type. Probably in burnt orange. And I'm gonna guess that Bill would probably wear one of those awkward old dude onesies like Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School. Not sure on the color. Maybe purple. Or yellow like that tie he always wears.

Jon: Mack in a pumpkin speedo, Bill in purple Zubas board shorts, and they let DeLoss captain the boat while cackling over their diabolical plan to ruin Texas by somehow managing to keep Mack there another year.

TB: This is just disturbing.

Kitchen: Pants? Amateurs. Just stand back when they start doing half-gainers. That's when it's a party.