Snyder Preaches Not Taking Things for Granted

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Just because it happened in 2011, coach Bill Snyder is preaching that it won't necessarily happen again in 2012. That's been the theme of the spring game as K-State completes its second week of work. KSU's spring game is set for April 28 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Bill Snyder says of Collin Klein, "He exemplifies what our program is all about."

Saying that the growth is not like seeing a grandchild every six months, he said, "When you see Collin every day you don't see the growth, but it's been steady, and there has been growth in terms of leadership."

That's with Klein, that's with Arthur Brown, and that's team-wide.

With the 2012 spring football season just a week old, Snyder says that the universal Wildcat goal this spring is to become a "… tougher, more aggressive football team. We want to be able to maintain a tenacity throughout the course of a given practice, and then develop certain position areas on the team and fill positions where we had graduation."

While 2011 served as Klein's coming out party and K-State's re-emergence into the national spotlight, the headlines from a year ago have been cleared and the start to the new season … the 2012 season … has been put into motion.

"It's a different team. We're not sure what it looks like yet, but we know it will be different," said Klein.

"It's too early to know exactly what we have, but the roots of the cohesiveness from last year are still there. We just need to continue to grow and expand on what we did last year to be successful."

Then, Klein repeats the phrase that he's heard from his head coach: "This is a new team."

Going into the spring and summer, and then into the fall, Snyder says, "I have to caution our players about every team being different. This team is far different than last year. The makeup has changed, the dynamics have changed … just losing a few positions dramatically changes a team."

So just because K-State finished second in the Big 12, won 10 games and played in the Cotton Bowl, as Snyder says, "We have to be careful about not taking things for granted. We can't expect that it will all fall into place like last year."

Klein points out that eight of the 10 wins were by seven points or less a year ago. With that in mind, he says, "We had to come back for several of those wins. There's nothing that says we have an entitlement to anything. We had to fight for everything we accomplished last year, and that mentality still stands. It wasn't free (last year). It was earned. That mentality hasn't changed."

What does excite Klein is the fact that eight starters return on offense, another six on defense and three special team members.

"It's not like we feel like we're starting from scratch," said the 6-foot-5, 226-pound senior. "We have areas where people have already stepped up and made plays before. We have leadership in all of the position groups, and experience in all the position groups. It's just a matter of putting those pieces together."

For certain, Klein's game has come together, but he's far from satisfied with last year's numbers of 1,918 passing yards, 1,141 rushing yards and accounting for 30 touchdowns – 27 rushing and 13 passing.

Surprising numbers as a first year starter and being named first-team All-Big 12 All-Purpose talent?

"No, not at all," said the Wildcat quarterback. "One of our rules here is no self-limitations. The sky is the limit if you work hard."

And this year's personal goal?

"I just want to glorify God with what he has given me," said Klein. "If that's 100 touchdowns or zero touchdowns, it's not going to change my heart or my makeup. I'm going to continue to compete to get better every day, which is coach Snyder's model. He wants you to be better today than yesterday. That part has not changed. If anything, it's gotten stronger."

If there's anything that Klein learned last year as a first-time starting quarterback it was that it does take strength, not to mention toughness.

"If there was anything I didn't expect last year was the physical beating that you take. I wasn't expecting that," said Klein, who didn't practice for several weeks toward the end of the 2011 season.

But everything else Klein said he was prepared for.

"Coach makes sure every T is crossed and every I is dotted," said Klein. "He gives you an understanding what to expect before you go in, so nothing else really blindsided me. It really does come down to just getting better day after day."

As for where Klein has improved the most, he offered, "I'm playing faster mentally, which helps get the ball where it needs to be quicker. It gets the ball into the hands of playmakers sooner. And, my footwork has become more consistent, but it still needs to improve. I still need a lot of fine-tuning."

Of what's been accomplished since the 29-16 loss to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl, Klein said, "It's a time to build yourself up to play the game. The off-season is a necessary component, but getting out of the winter conditioning and putting the pads on is great."

That's where K-State is now preparing for the Spring Game on April 28 at 1:10 p.m. at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, and after that the opening to that new 2012 season on Sept. 1 against Missouri State.

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