Coach Snyder Discusses Approaching Season
Coach Snyder Discusses Approaching Season
Purple Pride Staff Writer
KANSAS CITY, Mo. --As the Kansas State Wildcats head into the upcoming season, there are still quite a few question marks left unanswered from spring football in regards to starting lineups, replacements for seniors departed and newcomers to the 2004-2005 squad. The Big 12 Champion Wildcats lost many skill position players to graduation this past year but return Heisman hopeful star running back Darren Sproles. Arguably the best running back in the country and already voted the Preseason Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Sproles will be counted on heavily to carry the Cat offense to start the season.
And at Wednesday's Big 12 Conference Media Days session, with so many questions yet to be asked it became readily apparent that some questions had already been answered and the direction of this year's Wildcat Football team has been charted.
A throng of reporters crowded the room to hear the Wildcats all time winningest Head Coach Bill Snyder discuss the immediate future of Kansas State football and a possible run for the Heisman by his star running back Darren Sproles.
"I haven't changed my approach to promoting players. What people fail to understand is that, that had nothing to do with exposure to Michael (Bishop) with the media. That was a completely different issue. When Michael wasn't available to the media it was for other reasons. It was for the same reasons that there could be the same restrictions placed on any player in our program. The same thing could happen to Darren, but Darren hasn't put himself in a position to do that. I don't want you to read into that. Michael Bishop is a whale of a young guy."
Clearly the heart and soul of this year's team, Sproles will be looked to in the huddle as well as on the field for leadership and offensive production. Forever humble, Darren has his own ideas on the Heisman and on a day where he could have easily trumpeted his own horn, this senior lead from the front preaching team unit and of greater importance----winning.
"It's doesn't mean that much to me. I don't really care about the Heisman, but it would be good for the program. As long as my team wins games, I'm fine."
Heisman talk aside, Sproles is the straw that stirs this Wildcat offense and as his fortunes rise and fall- so do the Wildcats. With the graduation of Ell Roberson, two sophomores will battle it out in fall practices to earn the right as starting signal caller. With no proven experience at the quarterback position and a re-tooled Offensive line that took some hits with the departures of guys like Nick Leckey, Ryan Lilja and to an extent Thomas Hill, the offense will be built squarely around Darren Sproles. No one understands that better then Head Wildcat Bill Snyder.
"It means that 10 other guys need to give him some help. I don't think anyone would be excluded to that. The bottom line is that he can do some things, and he's got a whole bunch of clips that show you that he can make guys miss. We've got a lot of talent at other positions and to make that kind of commitment can be somewhat risky."
Knowing the responsibility that having the offense built around him would create, Sproles has been nothing if not diligent in preparing for the upcoming season and run at the Heisman. Without doubt, Sproles has that rare combination of speed and power on the field that makes him a star. But it is not just his eye popping stats that will have Wildcat fans everywhere cheering for Darren. It is leadership and staunch dedication to the team and the program. Having the faith of your Head Coach is always a good thing, but make no mistake- Coach Snyder believes in his star running back and his work ethic and hard work have not gone unnoticed.
"I think youngsters get better by being conscientious about it, being focused about it and working extremely hard about it. And Darren is that type of young guy. That's what makes him such a great guy. Darren is a great person/player and he'll do those things. When we open practice, and we finish the first practice that we have, Darren Sproles will find something in his game over the course of that practice and decide that he needs to be a little bit better at it, and he'll be out there by himself working on it. And if there is anyone on the team that doesn't really have to do that it would be Darren Sproles."
There is far too much talent and returning firepower in the cupboard these days for anyone not to take Kansas State seriously. Returning a top notch defense that has been ranked nationally as one of the top 5 defenses in the country, The Lynch Mob remains a solid reason the Cats are never out of a game and should again be able to contend for another Big 12 title. Although once again the Cats took losses along the defensive front in starters Josh Buhl and Rashad Washington, the Wildcat defense will again be predicated on re-load not re-build. With the dismantlement of the Sooners in the Big 12 Conference Championship 35-7, Coach Snyder again will turn to fundamentally sound defense and look to newcomers to fill vacant positions. Nothing earth shattering, the Cats will again play a hard nosed style of defense that has become their calling card and lead them to Conference Championships.
"I don't think that we did anything that was unique to college football. I don't think that we did anything that people may not have seen us do before. What really happened is that we played extremely sound. Our youngsters played highly motivated and extremely hard. We made very few mistakes. We made some, but we made a limited number of mistakes, and Oklahoma just probably didn't play as well. White was injured and we knew that. Oklahoma wouldn't make excuses about that, and I know that."
In Manhattan these days the Lynch Mob is thriving and well. Bill Snyder's blue collar and workman like approach has produced nationally ranked defenses and established a level of achievement that Wildcat fans and players have come to expect. It is of no surprise then when Kansas State Junior Defensive End Scott Edmonds says he thinks this year's squad will continue the tradition.
"I'm very confident about our defense this year. Summer workouts have gone real well. We have to fill some holes, but that's the case with every college football team. We have a lot of guys stepping into roles -- Ted Simms, myself; we have two cornerbacks coming back. I think our defensive line will be improved. Overall I think we are going to have a better defense."
With a new look on offense and the Heisman race sure to attract attention; Coach Snyder has his players all on the same page and pulling in one direction. The Cats have been to the mountain and know what it takes to win. Team and unity have been stressed and this year's Wildcat squad realizes what it will take to repeat as champions.
"The Big 12 is tough, especially the Big 12 North. We have to go to Colorado and Missouri, which will be two big games for us. Nebraska is always a big game for us." said Edmonds. "I know a lot of people are picking Missouri to beat us, but that's fine. That game against Missouri is going to be a heck of a game."
There is much work left to be done for this year's squad and to the man the goal remains winning and that means repeating. And repeating means once again defying the pundits who have picked everyone but the Cats to win it all this year.
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