Who knew the hot hand of a quarterback could be determined by how he tucked a football?
Actually everyone should know that as it pertains to Kansas State and the quarterback run game it relies on so heavily.
Yet the Wildcats’ Alex Delton entered as a backup and ran at will Tuesday night in a Cactus Bowl comeback victory over UCLA.
K-State’s seemingly predictable offense exerted enough second-half dominance to not only keep the Bruins off-balance, but keep the football out of their hands.
A 98-yard touchdown drive to seal the 35-17 victory capped a second-half shutout that included four touchdowns by the Cats. UCLA executed just 17 plays, for 100 yards, after establishing a 17-7 halftime lead.
Granted, it helped K-State that Josh Rosen sat out for UCLA … in case you hadn’t heard or missed one of the thousand ESPN cutaways that showed the projected NFL Draft darling more times than you have seen a Cleveland Browns highlight this millennium.
If the cameras weren’t trained on Rosen, they were aimed at Chip Kelly, who now takes over officially as UCLA coach after many insightful shots of him checking his smart phone during the bowl game.
At least at the end viewers were treated to a longer look at Bill Snyder, first as he huddled players together on the sideline just before the final horn and later during a postgame interview.
Asked by ESPN about his decision whether to return next season as Kansas State coach, he said, “I have no idea. We’ll talk about it later on.’’
Although Gene Taylor is hopeful that decision by Snyder will come quickly, the K-State athletic director said before the bowl game that Snyder “wants to think through it quite a bit. Nothing specific, though,’’ in regard to any timetable.
“I’m kind of prepared for all scenarios, and have been,’’ Taylor added. “Not when I first got here, but over the summer I’d kind of run through all options through my head. You need to be prepared. Give him the time he needs and I think I’ll get an answer fairly quickly. I really do.’’
The second-half adjustments made by the Wildcats in the Cactus Bowl were proof Snyder, and his staff, can coach up a team.
Nothing new. Such proof has been overwhelming over the course of Snyder’s career. Especially when compared with anyone else who guided Kansas State in football.
If Snyder, 78, wants to return next season, and I truly think he does, then good for him. Lord willing, he could even feel a bit stronger after battling cancer last offseason.
Keep in mind, there are recruits who signed letters of intent the same day last week that Snyder disclosed the possibility of re-retirement. Those recruits were probably left wondering what kind of sideshow they joined.
Uncertainty over Snyder’s future will only lead to more speculation down the line. Upcoming discussions with Kansas State administrators must be substantive.
The conversation needs to touch on Sean Snyder and for that matter, include Sean Snyder. The administration needs to take a stance on whether it wants the K-State special teams coach to succeed his father, something Bill Snyder has endorsed.
Both Taylor and university president Richard Myers have been around long enough to evaluate and resolve that alternative, which has never seemed altogether plausible, in part because of Sean Snyder’s exclusive background as a special teams coach.
Clarity also needs to be reached on how much longer Bill Snyder senses he will coach.
At this point he is doing it differently than anyone else (at least in the Big 12) in terms of scheme, and also recruiting, but he gets players to appreciate the importance of proper technique and fundamentals.
The outlook for next year is bright, beginning with two capable quarterbacks, Delton and Cactus Bowl starter Skylar Thompson, to lead an experienced offense.
Expectations should be high again, though that makes it necessary to address a disappointing stretch in 2017, which included four losses over a five-game stretch that contributed to a 1-3 start in conference play before the Cats finished 5-4 as part of an 8-5 overall mark.
“I would just as soon won all those ballgames in the middle of the season that we lost,’’ said Snyder, “but by the same token there’s some great value in that as well, for life, for the young people in our program. … They realize the value in life and I think it helps add to their value system, so to speak, and makes them better people.’’
Vast experience as a successful coach leads Snyder to think big picture.
Yet the big picture for K-State football involves him and his intentions.
If he decides he just coached his last game, the authoritative Cactus Bowl comeback would be a pretty sweet ending.
If he decides to return, K-State is in caring, consistent and capable hands next season, though it would be advantageous to clarify how long Snyder wants to keep coaching.