Kansas State Spring Game 2006: The Offense

True - Defense does win championships. However, it is the Offense that brings brings people to the stadium to watch the fireworks. The K-State Purple and White game demonstrated some fireworks of its own with some new faces making waves and introducing themselves to the Wildcat Nation. There was something to see for Everyone and we break down the Offenses for both the Purple and White Squads.

Linebackers Maurice Mack and Zach Diles doused defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, coach of the White team, with Gatorade after they defeated the Purple team led by offensive coordinator James Franklin 21-14 Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Both teams joined together on the field after the game and addressed the Spring Game record audience. Coach Ron Prince and a few players thanked the 31,875 fans for coming out and supporting the Wildcats.

After the speech, players stayed on the field for an hour to sign autographs for fans, as they were allowed to come on the field.

Prince sat in the press box for the first half of the game and was color commentary for the radio broadcast with Wyatt Thompson. He called it a "rookie effort" on his part, and jokingly apologized to the other radio announcers for not doing the best job.

Prince also addressed the media after the game, and one thing he talked about was how happy he was about the support K-State Football has received during this month of practice.

"Our fans did their part, and I continue to say that these are the best fans in college football," Prince said. "If you look at the bowl travel record and what happened here today, it's really overwhelming from our standpoint. You have to take your hats off to everybody, and I appreciate the support from the fans here today.

"This was a great game not only for the guys who are trying to move up the depth chart, but also for our organization because we really want to have the best organization in college football."

Offense

Here is a statistical breakdown of how each player performed, and quotes from a few of them. Quarterbacks

For the quarterbacks, it was experience and age vs. inexperience and youth. Experience prevailed, as the two quarterbacks for the White team, seniors Dylan Meier and Allen Webb led the white to the victory. The three quarterbacks for the Purple team were sophomore Allan Evridge and freshmen Kevin Lopina and Josh Freeman.

Dylan Meier, White team
– Meier threw for 53 yards on 7-for-10 passing. He had one touchdown pass, one interception and one rush for 21 yards. Meier methodically picked apart the purple defense on the first series, going 4-for-4 on the drive for 31 yards. He took the White team on a nine-play, 68-yard drive for the first score of the game, which was an eight-yard Meier touchdown pass to tight end Donald Raymer.

"It was so exciting for just a spring game," Meier said. "The fans made it a game-like atmosphere, and in turn we wanted to perform for everybody.

"It felt good to get back on the field after having not been out there for like two years. I was so ready to just come out and play, and I think I played well." Coach Prince would not say who was the front-runner for the starting quarterback position after the game, but Meier was the first one he talked about.

"Nobody came away as the clear-cut starter, but I will say that Dylan Meier did everything that he was supposed to do early in the game," Prince said. "I was happy with how he moved the ball on the first drive and during the rest of the game."

Wide receiver Jordy Nelson said it means a lot to this team having Meier back at full strength.

"Dylan came out and showed the poise and experience that he has," Nelson said. "Nobody on this team doubted him, and we all knew that once he came back after what happened to him a couple years ago that he would be rolling, and he came out today and proved that he's got a great arm and he knows what he is doing."

Allen Webb, White team –
Webb threw for 79 yards on 5-of-6 passing, and had two rushes for seven yards. His one touchdown pass was the highlight of the game, and put the White team ahead 21-14, which was a lead they would not relinquish.

"I felt pretty comfortable out there today, and most of all I just wanted to go out there and have fun," Webb said. "I wanted to show the crowd what I could do, and let everybody know that I am still in the competition. Hopefully people saw that today.

"As for the rest of the team, everybody is playing well together, and everybody is working on being great leaders and pushing each other. Everybody is competing hard in practice to make each other better."

On the first play of the fourth quarterback, Webb hooked up with Yamon Figurs for a 47-yard touchdown pass.

"It was a play action play that was open all day, and we were just saving it for the right time so we could get a touchdown and end the game with it," Figurs said. "We had it planned from the beginning and he was just going to throw it up there for me, and luckily I was wide open and scored the winning touchdown."

Webb was also on the field at the end of the game when the White team was trying to seal the victory, and Prince was happy with how he was able to handle the situation.

"Allen did a nice job controlling the clock at the end of the game," Prince said. "He had a really nice four-minute at the end of the game where the White team had a chance to end the game in their possession, and he was able to secure the victory by using good clock-management techniques."

Allan Evridge, Purple team –
Evridge was 6-for-12 for 72 yards and one touchdown. The highlight of his day was at the end of the second quarter. The purple team was down 14-0, and he took them on a eight-play, 85-yard drive that ended with a two-yard touchdown pass from Evridge to tight end Rashaad Norwood with 23 seconds left in the first half.

Prince said he was pleased with how Evridge handled the offense in that series, and Evridge talked about his steady progression during this last month.

"I feel like I have progressed pretty well this spring," Evridge said. "I have gotten a nice grasp of the offense, and we have set a nice foundation to build on.

"I am not worried about the quarterback situation, I just have to go out there and worry about the secondary and what the defense is doing and everything else will take care of itself. The fans did an excellent job showing up today. They made it a fun environment to be in and I am proud to be a Wildcat today.

Josh Freeman, Purple team –
Freeman went 5-for-7 for 57 yards and one touchdown. He danced around in the backfield with happy feet for a while, but calmed down after getting a few snaps under his belt.

"At first I was a little uncomfortable, but Jordy and my other teammates kept encouraging me and after awhile I started to settle down a little bit and get into a little bit of a rhythm," Freeman said. "I wouldn't call this "game experience" because the defense was not allowed to blitz, but it feels good to go out in front of the fans in a little bit of an exhibition, and get in the atmosphere of college football. I kept hearing about how great these fans were, and it was everything that I expected it to be."

Prince said he got what he was looking for from Freeman, and said he was impressed with Freeman's ability to step up the plate in such a huge atmosphere.

"Freeman took on the challenge of coming to a big university instead of staying for the rest of his high school career," Prince said. "Everything he is giving us right now is a bonus and we are really thankful that he is here. He has some pretty good skills and now he has to just refine them in the system."

Kevin Lopina, Purple team –
Lopina threw for 24 yards passing on only 2-of-3 attempts. He also had one pass intercepted by linebacker Greg Gaskins. Lopina seemed like the odd-man out today. He did not play very much, and he did not play very well. His lone highlight came towards the end of the third quarter. He had two consecutive plays in which he hooked up with wide receiver Jermaine Moreira for 19 yards and then had a 17-yard scamper. Unfortunately, he followed that up with a nine-yard sack on the next play, and then his interception on the play after that. He also lost a fumble in the second quarter.

Wide Receivers

Yamon Figurs, White team –
three receptions for 60 yards and one touchdown. His score came on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Allen Webb, and he appears to have not lost his breakaway speed from a year ago. He went up against cornerback Bryan Baldwin a lot during the game, and showed his ability to stay with his routes and lose a defender with a good initial jab step at the start of the play.

Figurs said he enjoyed having the fans come out and watch the team play, and he used the crowd support as an opportunity to perform at a level higher than regular practice.

"I think the game itself was good with the purple team coming back like they did and scaring us a little bit," Figurs said. "It was nice to go out there and show the fans how much we have progressed over the spring."

Jordy Nelson, Purple team –
Nelson, who was named as one of two offensive captains for the 2006 season along with offensive lineman Greg Wafford, had four receptions for 36 yards and a score. His touchdown came in the third quarter off a pass from Josh Freeman, which capped an eight-play, 62-yard drive for the purple. Nelson said he is nowhere near ready for the season to begin, but he and his teammates have made huge strides learning this new offense in just a short period of time.

"We have done a lot of great things in the spring, and we have been progressing at a nice pace," Nelson said. "Right now we are right where we want to be, and we all know there is still a lot of room to improve. Now we have to keep working hard in the offseason to try and get better."

Jermaine Moreira, Purple team –
There were numerous times when Moreira had to go up and get the ball, and he showed his tremendous leaping ability. He also showed that he is not afraid to run crossing routes and post routes into the heart of the defense, even though he paid for it a couple of times when he got hit by his roommate Kyle Williams.

Val Taylor, Purple team –
one reception for 22 yards

Daniel Gonzalez, White team –
two receptions for 18 yards

Andrew Richards, White team –
one reception for 10 yards

These guys are all role players trying to find a spot in the depth chart, and they showed they know how to run their routes and that they can make plays if they are called upon.

Prince said he is trying to get more depth at a lot of positions, and especially at wide receiver. These guys had the opportunity to take a few snaps in a game situation and try to show the coaches what they can do, and Prince said he was pleased with how they have all progressed in this young season.

Tight Ends
Rashaad Norwood, Purple team –
Norwood had four receptions for 24 and a touchdown.

Donald Raymer, White team –
Raymer had three receptions for 23 yards and also scored a touchdown.

The 47 combined yards does not do these two guys justice. They were all over the place in terms of finding open holes in the defense and creating nice blocking lanes for the running backs.

The void left by Brian Casey two years ago is starting to be filled by these guys. The new west coast offense is heavily dependant upon playmaking tight ends who can block, catch, break tackles and be physical at the line of scrimmage, and these guys, along with Brett Alstatt, showed their ability to do exactly that today.

Running Backs
Thomas Clayton, Purple team –
19 yards on four carries

Clayton did not play much, but he still looked like he has what it takes to be the leading rusher again this season for the Wildcats.

He said he was happy with how everybody played, and hopes the fans enjoyed the show.

"The offense is doing an awesome job, and I am very impressed with the progress that everybody has made and I think that we are going to continue to get better," Clayton said. "It was real competitive out there today, which was nice for the fans to get a chance to see, and everybody stood up to the occasion.

"This being my last year I am trying to attack everything and get it all at once, and I think I am having success with that."

Donnie Anders, White team –
67 yards on 14 carries and one touchdown.

Anders played extremely well in the absence of Fisher and Alsup. He used his experience to his advantage. There were numerous times when if he would have followed his blockers, then he would have gotten tackled, but he used his ability to find the lane and he cut back across the defense for a few extra yards.

Terry Petrie, Purple team –
38 yards on six carries.

John McCardle, White team
– no yards on one carry.

Parrish Fisher, Carlos Alsup
Both did not play due to injuries.

Petrie played a lot more with Clayton not getting very many carries, and showed flashes of his ability. He had a 24-yard gain late in the second quarter and almost scored before being knocked out of bounds at the two-yard line. Prince said he saw some of the things he was hoping to see from all of the running backs, and the coaches will review the tape to reveal exactly how everyone performed.

"When we have a chance to look at the tape we will find guys like Donnie Anders and Terry Petrie who did a really good job tonight," Prince said. "These were some of the guys who I was hoping to see take a step forward. Donald Raymer was another guy, and I'm sure there will be others that we will find once we see the tape."

Offensive Line

White starters (from left tackle to right tackle) – Brad Rooker, Greg Wafford, John Hafferty, Caleb Handy and Gerard Spexarth.


Purple starters (from left tackle to right tackle) – Derek Meyer, Ryan Schmidt, Jordan Bedore, Brock Unruh and Logan Robinson.

Purple reserve –
Schmidt moved to center when Bedore went down in the third quarter, and Matt Boss came in and played left guard.

It's hard to judge the level of improvement by offensive linemen because their game is not credited with statistics. One good thing is that they did not have any of those false start penalties that they were so famous for last season. For the rest of the assessment, I'll let Coach Prince fill you in.

"I watched them very closely, and I was really looking for guys like Greg Wafford to step up and perform at a high level," Prince said. "Brad Rooker and Jed Henson are two guys that played better than I expected. I wasn't displeased with how any of the offensive linemen played, but we still have got a lot of work to do before we will be ready for the season.

"We are on schedule; no more, no less."

Top 10 Things to remember about the Spring Game

10.
Linebacker Brandon Bortz catches a squib kick at the end of the first half and returns it for 11 yards – We'll start off with this one because I had to block for Bortz in high school, and it was nice to see him get some playing time on special teams and at the linebacking position. I enjoyed seeing him bounce off a couple defenders and make a nice gain. His return reminded me a little bit of when he was running the ball back in the day.

9.
Donnie Ander's run – Anders had a few nice runs, and took advantage of the injuries to Parrish Fisher and Carlos Alsup. He was able to get more playing time, and ended the game with 67 yards on 14 carries. Anders had a 19-yard gain toward the end of the fourth quarter, where he juked two defenders and scampered along the sideline. It was a third down and five, the White team was trying to run out the clock and he made sure that his team would not have to punt the ball back to the Purple team and give them a chance to tie.

8.
Jermaine Moreira's catch – Moreira caught a pass from Josh Freeman over the middle of the field, and had to abruptly hit the turf to avoid getting leveled by safety Kyle Williams. Freeman was struggling early and needed something positive to happen in order to help his confidence, and he slightly overthrew Moreira. Moreira went up and caught the ball, and Freeman went on to throw an eight-yard touchdown pass later on in the drive to Jordy Nelson.

7.
Dylan Meier and Kevin Lopina's long runs – Meier's run was a 21-yarder and Lopina's was a 17 yarder. Both of these plays showed the mobility of the quarterbacks, which is necessary when trying to flee from defenders who are looking to get a sack.

6.
Allan Evridge two-minute drill at the end of the first half – Evridge took his team down the field, down 14-0, to score a crucial touchdown to give the Purple team some momentum with less than a minute left in the first half. He connected with Rashaad Norwood for a two-yard touchdown pass capping an eight-play, 85-yard drive, which took up only 1:19.

5.
47-yard touchdown pass from Allen Webb to Yamon Figurs – They both talked after the game about how they had been setting up this play from the beginning of the game, and Figurs was mad because they had run it a couple times before it worked but Webb took off running instead of throwing to Figurs. Webb finally found Yamon after Figurs burned the safety, and it made for a really nice play to watch.

4.
Dylan Meier's opening drive – Meier took the White team down the field on a nine-play, 68-yard scoring drive capped off by a pass from him to Donald Raymer. I distinctly remember K-State struggling to find points in the first quarter of games last year, so this was refreshing knowing that we have a quarterback who can lead a team down the field to start off games.

3.
Autographs after the game – Fans were able to rush the field after Prince and company addressed the audience to get autographs for some of their favorite players. This is just another way for fans to become more involved with the team, which makes football that much more exciting.

2.
Ron Prince in the radio booth – I don't ever remember Bill Snyder doing something like that. No disrespect to the legendary Snyder, but I like how Prince is actively trying to get the fans more and more involved with the team. I'll be surprised if the attendance record for an entire K-State football season isn't broken next year.

1.
31,875, enough said – This number set the record attendance by more than 12,000 people for a K-State Spring Game, which has been around for over 20 years. This number also ranks seventh among all Bowl Championship Series programs that have already held their respective Spring Games. This just goes to show how much excitement Ron Prince is bringing to this team and the K-State program, which should translate into high attendance numbers next season. .


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