More than midway through the second half of Kansas State’s 38-17 win over Louisiana-Lafayette, the Wildcats offense was sputtering. KSU had gained just 23 yards in the first 19 minutes of the half.
Enter Daniel Sams.
The Wildcats’ No. 2 quarterback entered the game and immediately sparked the offense, leading KSU on a six-play, 65-yard drive to cement the 21-point victory.
“We put [Sams] in at that time because we needed him in the ball game,” Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said of the move. “I cannot tell you that it was planned for such and such drive or such and such time; that was not the case. But, he needed to be there.”
Sams was needed because Snyder knew he might be able to provide the spark KSU was searching for on offense.
“I really just wanted to finish,” Sams said of his mindset upon entering the game in the fourth quarter. “I felt we left some points on the board on some previous drives, and we had to get in the end zone no matter how we had to do it, and we did that.”
It’s a role that Sams seems comfortable with. He has scored two touchdowns in 10 carries this season rushing for 80 yards and eight yards per carry. The sophomore is like a running back in the backfield, which is going to force defenses to game plan to stop him. And even when they do, they won’t want their defenders in one-on-one situations in the open field against Sams.
It’s an option the Wildcats will have moving forward and a potential nightmare for Big 12 defenses this fall. Starting quarterback Jake Waters has been solid, though somewhat mistake prone, during the first two games, completing 43 of 60 attempts for 558 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. He has used his arm to make receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson more than game-changing special teams threats.
It’s a two-quarterback system with the potential to bring defenses to their knees. Both quarterbacks can be productive in KSU’s offense, yet each has unique strengths. Waters is the better passer and Sams the better runner, but both are balanced enough to keep defenses honest.
"I think it's great,” tight end Zach Trujillo said. “It really opens up our offense. Whoever coach thinks can get the job done on certain plays, they will put in there. Whoever is in, we are going to block for them and do what we can. It doesn't really matter who we have in.”
And it works, because both quarterbacks have expressed their desire to help the team and do what’s best for the program, even if that means watching the other quarterback excel.
“I think it can work,” Waters said after the ULL victory. “You just have to use us right, and they (the coaches) are and they did tonight. With Daniel [Sams] coming with that change of pace, it really gave us that spark that we needed.”
The Wildcats have the ability to force opposing defensive coordinators to devote time preparing for each quarterback, which is a tough test with the limited practice time Big 12 teams will have to prepare for the duo. And both quarterbacks have proven their ability to take the Wildcats offense on scoring drives in 2013.
“I think it is good,” Sams said after eight carries for 63 yards and one touchdown last Saturday. “It kept the defense off balance, because they really did not know what to expect.”
Just how the Wildcats want it.