Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said on the Big 12 coaches teleconference that he would release the team's depth chart on Tuesday, but he indicated that the starting running back position, which remains the most competitive spot on the team, could be decided by "a flip of the coin" as the Wildcats prepare for their season opener against Eastern Kentucky on Saturday.
The running back position remained the hot topic for the Wildcats as Snyder spoke with reporters on Monday.
How did Collin Klein finish up camp and what do you look forward to seeing from him in the season opener? SNYDER: "I'd like to think he'd play well. Certainly, his hope is to, too, I'm quite certain. He's made progress throughout virtually the entire portion of camp. I think there was a little plateau that has taken place in the last week or so, but he's a very conscientious young man and always is very cognizant of the good things he's doing and the things not quite so good and that he needs to improve upon, and he really commits himself to trying to improve in those areas. He's making progress and I'm quite certain he'll continue to do that."
You mentioned running back would be a very competitive position. Who has pulled ahead in that regard heading into Saturday? SNYDER: "We still have a logjam at the top. We're going to release a depth chart tomorrow but even at that there's still some uncertainty as to who would be the starter. It would probably be a flip of the coin, I would think. I think virtually each and every one of them will have an opportunity on the field for no other reason than we just haven't really had one of the outperform the other, which is not a bad thing. It just indicates the competitive nature of the position very much remains the same. Nobody's gone backward. Everybody's done the best they can to continue to make improvement and indeed have. It's very, very close, probably the closest competition we have in the program."
If that first game goes the way you'd like and you had the opportunity would you like to get all three quarterbacks as much playing time as possible, or would you like Collin to be in the game as much as possible? SNYDER: "I never project exactly what we'll be able to do with personnel with playing time in any ballgame. The ideal thing is that you have the opportunity for your No. 2s to gain experience in some of the positions that you have. That'll take place because the positions are so very, very competitive. But by the same token, those positions that haven't become as competitive as we would like, you still have to have No. 2s to gain some opportunities on the playing field. We'd hope in any ballgame, not just the first ballgame, we'd have the opportunity for others to gain experience. Now, whether that takes place or not certainly remains to be seen. If we were to take anyone for granted with that in mind and have a plan about exactly when we were going to play them, we'd run ourselves into some serious issues."
You've talked a lot about Arthur Brown. Who else, in your mind, has stood out at linebacker? SNYDER: "Well, I think I've been pleased with Tre Walker and Arthur and Emmanuel Lamur. We have some young guys that really have proven to us that we can have some depth at that position. Alex Hrebec has done a nice job, Blake Slaughter does a nice job as well. I think we're a little deeper. The three that I've mentioned first have really stepped forward in terms of separating themselves a little bit from the No. 2s but we still have reasonably decent depth there."
With all the scandals that have been going on and everything about Texas A&M, you've been around a long time, has this been the most in flux you've seen this league and this sport in general? SNYDER: "I don't know. I haven't thought about it that way, I guess. I can't tell you there's been another time when perhaps there's been more, but I personally don't look at it that way. The new adage, it is what it is. With the social media, everything is out there, whatever it is. It may be in previous years, it might not have been necessarily conference realignment. But you go back when it went from the Big Eight to the Big 12, etc., stuff happens in cycles, perhaps. As far as some of the other things that have taken place in college football, we just didn't have the media exposure, so maybe a few things that have taken place in the past didn't get the media exposure. I can't think of a time when there's been as much public turmoil or turmoil available to the public as there is now."
Has there been a notable difference in camp with this defense and the one that struggled so mightily last year? Is it faster, or something you'll have to wait -- time-will-tell kind of thing? SNYDER: "Probably both. Yes, we are a little bit faster. Yes, we'll have to wait and see how well we'll perform. And I don't know the answer will come from a first ballgame, a second ballgame, etc. Last year, I felt we played well enough on defense in the first four ballgames and it was the middle of the season where we began to have difficulty. It's going to take a while. We'll have to get well into the season in order to make some type of determination with how this unit compares to last year's unit. Again, that's not of significance to me. We've made improvements, I believe that. How much? I'm not altogether certain, but my interest has been us continuing to improve on a very regular basis and game-to-game and have enough consistency to retain a certain level of play throughout the course of the season."
Do you feel like it's deeper at every position? SNYDER: "We're deeper at more positions than we were. Now, that doesn't mean, as I addressed earlier, that it is competitive at every position. As I said, you take the three linebacker positions and I think there's a separation between the ones and the twos. There are some positions on the field where it's very competitive and it'll remain that way, so your ones and twos are somewhat interchangeable in that respect. Overall, a little bit better depth than what we've had in the past."
Depending on how the running back situation shakes out, are you OK with having this deal where none of them really ends up being the No. 1 guy? Are you just going to be prepared to play whoever has the hot hand and see whoever is having the good game, or is that something you prefer not to have? SNYDER: "Well, I think I'd probably prefer not to have it that way. I'd prefer to have a clear-cut No. 1 and someone who offers a good change of pace, but I don't have the answer to have that is right now. I have some thoughts about it. These are all young guys, the one thing they all have in common is lack of experience, and so you kind have to see how they're going to perform. I think they'll distinguish themselves as we go through the early stages of the season and hopefully we can settle on a No. 1 with a good change-of-pace backup."
Is there an importance, maybe if only symbolically, to breaking camp and then starting a game week for the opener? Is there a time off period for your guys? SNYDER: "We've had little breaks as we've gone through this period of time. It's changed a great deal. In the old days, it was back-to-back-to-back two-a-days, so you went right up to school beginning and then the first week of school at the end of the week is your first ballgame. That has changed. Now we start a little bit earlier. We had four days in which we had multiple practices, so that's changed a great deal. We've been in school for a week, so we'll go through two weeks of school before you have your first ballgame, so it's a little bit different than in the past. As far as time off with our players, they haven't had a great deal of time off, but they've had days in which we've had a reduction in practice time. In fact, the last three practices they've had have been far-shorter practices than what we'd normally have. There's a process of 'getting their legs back,' as people would say and getting fresh again going into this week of preparation."