more on ksu football

i know you've been waiting for it... my analysis of the ksu game to open the 2009 season.  yes, i have a few opinions.  first of all, let me say, i'm not disappointed.  i feel like there's a lot to improve upon, but, as i mentioned in my previous ksu football post, that is a mark of a bill snyder team.  so, we can pretty much guarantee that our boys in purple spandex will improve.  simple thing to ask for, yet somehow so elusive in the prince years.  
so, special teams:  good at times.  i felt like our tackling, getting downfield to cover the return game, was good.  we made tackles on first contact.  also an elusive skill last year.  however, on kickoffs, the kicker has some decisions to make:  as a kicker you have one of two jobs:  either put the ball through the back of the end zone or hang it in the air for a significant enough hang time that the really fast guys can get downfield and tackle the guy with the ball as soon as he touches it.  well, we did neither on saturday.  our boy couldn't reach the end zone once. and when he tried to get it to the end zone by line driving the ball all he did was prevent the special teams from making a tackle below the 20 yard line.  

i thought our offense did ok.  yeah we made some mistakes, yeah we turned it over a couple of times, yeah we had almost no passing game.  here's why i'm not worried about those things yet.  one, coffman was nervous.  that'll work itself out.  two, we have some insurance in our back up QB, he's fast, he's a runner, and he's a bill snyder type of QB.  three, we ran the option!  i know, i know.  but i love the option.  and we ran it pretty well.  i think coffman has a good feel for the option and i think we have the players to pull it off.  four, we WILL have a passing game... it just wasn't there last saturday.  we will have tight end options and brandon banks will not always have a bad game, like he did last week.  he was rough last week, no doubt.  that will not always be the case.  fifth, our running game was good.  and we pretty much ONLY ran it up the middle, but we still dropped over 200 yards on UMass.  we had a good team of backs and we really didn't even use our fullback option.  snyder is notorious for not showing all of his cards up front.  we ran a limited number of plays and we will add to our repertoire as the season progresses.  the turnovers will clean up as the season progresses.  i feel ok about offense.  

defense, to be honest, didn't stand out one way or the other.  the times that UMass scored were odd occasions, once on a special teams play and once after a quick turn around.  the only score their offense truly earned was a field goal.  we gave up a few big plays, but we also held them to a field goal in the red zone.  i give us a passing grade. 

as i mentioned in my earlier post, i'm not discouraged because i don't think we are going to peak here.  it's unlike a snyder team to allow these same mistakes to continue to happen.  i think we had a lot to learn from from saturday's game which is all you can ask for in a non-conference game.  


my response to an email from a friend giving me a hard time about ksu football.  he asks me about my opinion of bill snyder returning to coach at kstate and if the hall of fame will not only wait, but never materialize as a result.  i said:

snyder cannot coach himself out of the hall.  brett favre will still be a hall of famer despite the lunacy of his present choices.  bill and brett can't undo the amazing things they have done in the past, no matter how much of a circus they decide to let their careers turn into in the future.  bill snyder took a team that was ranked 113 (out of 112 teams... no lie.  Wichita State University had an accidental higher ranking in football than KSU in the late '80's... accidental because WSU did not have a football team at the time... [is that really true, or is it a tale of legend and lore???  oh well.  it works for making my point]). he led them to 16 successful seasons, a #1 ranking, and BCS bowl games.  that's incredible no matter what happens in the upcoming seasons.  it is still known as one of the best turn arounds in history.  that won't change.

as for how things will go in the new snyder era:  this is why i am not counting him out:  
1.  a mark of a bill snyder team is discipline, fundamentals, and more discipline.  that is what KSU is lacking, so increasing the discipline can only lead to improvement.  
2.  another mark of a bill snyder team is progressive, even if slow, improvement.  one thing you always could count on was improvement from one season to the next, one game to the next, and one quarter to the next.  snyder's teams climbed the rankings each season and with each game.  ron prince's team did the opposite.  ron prince had a game plan that involved a lot of trick plays that surprised teams, even really good teams (UT), in the first half of a game.  but he made no halftime adjustments and his teams became increasingly worse as the 2nd half droned on.  they made more and more mental mistakes, penalties, predictable plays that led to turnovers... these things are rare with a bill snyder team.  i expect that, even if our record does not indicate as such, we will see marked improvement as the season progresses and i'm ok with that for this season and maybe next.
3.  and this is why i think bill will be able to have "success" in upcoming seasons (whether that's bowl eligibility, big 12 north champions, or...), bill does not have to be the best or strongest "link" on the field.  he has brought in some amazing coaches to his staff including the offensive coordinator from last year's successful utah team and jo bo clements from ku.  bill knows that his teams are only as strong as the coaches around him.  he does not try to make himself bigger by keeping everyone around him "small time."  there are a lot of big time coaches that were assistants under snyder before and he's staying with that pattern.  he knows that he's older and up against a lot of odds... again.  he knows what it's like to be in this position.  in fact, he's dug himself out of even deeper holes before and he did it by bringing in strength and talent in the coaches around him.  ron prince was afraid of bigger and better talent on the coaching staff.  this threatened him.  he had to make himself the central element and the strongest link and he did not have a coaching staff to fall back on when his inexperience showed.  
4.  part of ksu's problem has been really poopy (not the word i used originally, but i'm censoring myself) ADs since the previous bill snyder era.  snyder will not go for this.  he will demand excellence on that level as he does with his coaches and he has the clout to make it happen.  for f-s (really did just say f-... not the actual word) sake, he's the reason we have a damn (not really that bad of a word... right?) equestrian team.  in the early '90's before ksu football brought in a profit, bill demanded an indoor practice facility and stadium renovations.  this was before anyone knew what he was capable of doing and everyone thought he was a crazy man for those demands.  but, he knew that is what it would take to build a program that could compete and to bring in recruits... and it worked.  he knows how to get it done.

i can't make any predictions about what bill snyder will do, but there's comfort in knowing that this is how he will build the program.  snyder loves being the underdog.  he really has nowhere to go but up and no one is paying any attention to ksu this year.  this is perfect for him to be able to teach and coach and turn things around gradually.