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November 9, 2010Don't ask Bill Snyder. He won't say. The players honestly don't know the answer, either, but they find it hard to hide their opinions. Nine games into the 2010 season, a once-seemingly inevitable storyline is finally news for the Kansas State Wildcats.
Who will be the starting quarterback? So far this season, the answer has stayed Carson Coffman, but following K-State's 39-14 victory over Texas, suddenly the name Collin Klein is in the conversation. And for good reason.
With Coffman mending an injured ankle Saturday night, Klein became the surprise starter for the Wildcats and left the field as one of the game's stars.
So, when the Wildcats take on the Missouri Tigers on Saturday, will it be Klein or Coffman under center for the Wildcats?
Snyder, the consummate strategist, has done little to quell the guessing game. "Who do you want?" he asked from behind a podium during his Tuesday press conference.
The veteran coach may want to ask his players as most seem to have an opinion on the matter, even if they don't voice it concisely. Nobody on the roster came out and threw a vote of confidence behind Klein or Coffman, but at times on Tuesday, it wasn't hard to read between lines.
Everyone worded it differently, but the consensus was clear. The feeling in the locker room following last week's bowl-clinching victory was one of satisfaction. Days later, praise is still being heaped on the offense at every turn. So, of course, it was asked:
Is it possible that last week's offensive performance, an effort that saw K-State gain just nine yards through the air, was the Wildcats' best of the season? Fullback Braden Wilson fielded it cleanly and responded without batting an eye.
"Yeah, it was," he said. "If felt like everything was just clicking and going for us."
As things got more quarterback-specific, however, quotes became a little bit subtler. They came in Snyder-speak and other forms of code, but all seemed to point in the same direction.
"Collin opens it up for me and everybody else because he's a threat to run the ball," tailback Daniel Thomas said before reiterating the fact that he had no idea who would line up under center this Saturday against the Tigers. Just questions later, though, he seemed to tip his hand.
This time the response came to a vague inquiry about the effectiveness of K-State's offense going forward, and nobody so much as mentioned a quarterback until the start ball-carrier spoke.
"Collin gave us a boost and a sense of confidence," he said. "I think we're ready to go now."
Not exactly the sounds of indifference. And as the admittedly not-in-the-loop Thomas went on, he seemed to grow more confident in his assumptions. If last week's signal-caller surprise was the best-executed coverup in Snyder history, this one will either top it or serve as its foil.
"I don't think we'll be able to get away with nine passing yards every game because I think they will be keyed on the run with Collin more," Thomas said. 'We'll have to open it up more (against Missouri)."
Somehow Klein, who rushed for 127 yards and completed two of just four passes he attempted in his first career start, seems to be one of few players 100-percent confused by what may take place during the week ahead. Will he start again? He doesn't expect to know until Saturday morning. Does he feel like the starter? To that one, there was no clear response, just an effort to dance around the toes of both his teammates and his coach.
"I feel like it in the fact that I'm still a little sore and stuff," Klein said with a quick smile. "The most important things is the kind of team victory that we had on Saturday. That's a great feeling. We're just going to see what happens.
"I'm going to prepare hard regardless if I am going to start or not."
Apathy was the theme when the sophomore spoke. Praise deflection and open-ended responses were the norm as the Colorado product fell directly in line with Snyder's wait-and-see outlook. Still, his shoulder-shrugging routine has a long way to go before it catches up to the one put on display by Snyder, the master of the move.
Coffman, who Snyder indicated is fully recovered from a minor ankle injury, was not made available to the media this week, but it didn't stop the steady line of riddle-like responses from flowing. "Flip a coin," Snyder said before laying down a seemingly tongue-in-cheek suggestion about playing a mix Klein, Coffman and third option Sammuel Lamur come this weekend.
"I'm not all together certain yet," he added. "I'm truly not."