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April 27, 2013

Quarterbacks shine in spring game

Kansas State's spring football game Saturday afternoon probably did not do much to settle who will take the field as starting quarterback this fall. Other than that, it was a pretty smooth day at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Behind a dynamic offensive attack, the first-team Purple squad defeated its second-team White counterparts, 76-3. A halftime score switch meant the official final score was 41-38 White.

"There were some things we did well and some things we didn't," Snyder said. "We managed the ball reasonably well and that's a plus. The consistency factor is not there."

Junior college transfer Jake Waters and sophomore returnee Daniel Sams both took reps for both teams, and each was extremely effective.

"I saw some very positive things with both of them," Snyder said. "I saw some issues that we've been aware of. You can see we have some athletic ability there. What I was pleased with, as much as anything, is that we had both quarterbacks call their own (plays) and didn't have any clock mismanagement."

Waters played for the Purple squad in the first and third quarters, racking up 249 yards on 14 of 18 passing and three touchdowns.

"My job was just to get the ball to the playmakers and not do too much. Our receivers did a heck of a job today," Waters said.

He said his first experience at K-State in front of a crowd, which was announced as 16,383, was a successful one. "Being out there for the first time, it went pretty well. It was cool to just get out there and play with the guys."

Water connected on touchdown passes of 35, 76 and eight yards against a young defense looking to gain experience.

Sams, not to be outdone, threw for 391 yards and four scores to three different receivers. He added 35 yards on four carries as both quarterbacks were ruled down with any contact. In all, the Purples accumulated 855 yards of offense on 76 plays.

"Going into the season, I think it'll be difficult for defenses to prepare for us," Sams said. "I had the easy part. Our receivers do a great job of getting open."

Snyder said the decision on a starter remains fluid and won't be decided until the season nears. K-State opens its schedule Aug. 30 against North Dakota State.

"Jake is a poised young guy and he handled himself pretty well, which is what you want from a young quarterback," Snyder said.

A veteran offensive line, which returns nearly everyone from last season's 11-2 Big 12 Championship team, made the quarterbacks' jobs much easier, regardless of who took the snaps. Wide receivers enjoyed big days as well, with Tyler Lockett's nine catches, 231 yards and two scores leading the way.

"Just being able to catch balls helps us," he said. "It takes some time for us to all get in sync, but we're getting better every day."

Lockett also caught a miraculous bobbled ball in the end zone for the Purple squad in the fourth quarter.

"I was just as shocked as everyone else (when I caught it)," Lockett said. "I'm still trying to figure out how the ball went from in front of me to behind me. It was a crazy catch."

Tight end Andre McDonald added 80 receiving yards on eight catches and fullback Chris Gronkowski grinded out an eight-yard TD reception in the third quarter. Running back Robert Rose paced the rushing attack with 141 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

On the defensive side, Blake Slaughter led the way with eight tackles. He, along with Lockett, B.J. Finney, Tre Walker and Ty Zimmerman, were named 2013 team captains before the game.

The special teams units looked sharp as well. Jack Cantele, younger brother of former K-State kicker Anthony, connected on field goals of 24 and 51 yards while nailing all four of his extra point attempts. His 51-yard blast in the fourth quarter marked the only points of the game for the White squad.

Neither side appeared to suffer any major injuries, capping off what Snyder regarded as a successful scrimmage.

"There are some little things to work on, but by and large, they did not play poorly. They didn't disappoint me," Snyder said.

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