When the K-State football team squares off against Massachusetts on Saturday, there will be several question marks throughout the Wildcats’ roster. Arguably the biggest question has been answered, however, as head coach Bill Snyder has named Carson Coffman as the team’s starting quarterback.
Coffman was considered the favorite for the starting job after Josh Freeman declared for the NFL Draft in January, but Grant Gregory, a transfer from the University of South Florida, had stiffened the competition for the position since his arrival this year.
“[Naming a starter] really wasn’t the easiest decision in the world, I can assure you of that,” Snyder said at Tuesday’s press conference. “Both of them have the capability to get the ball where it needs to be. I don’t think there’s a great difference at all. That’s why it was such a difficult decision.”
Coffman expressed his approval for Snyder’s decision, saying he thought his previous experience in a Wildcat uniform might have given him an edge.
“I’ve been waiting for a long time and I’m just excited,” said Coffman, a product of Peculiar, Mo. “I think the spring helped me a lot. Just getting that advantage and that experience over Grant helped me a lot.”
Coffman, a junior who served as Freeman’s primary backup in each of the last two seasons, has seen action in 10 games during his K-State career. During that time, he completed 25 passes for 282 yards and a touchdown. He enjoyed a solid performance at the 2009 spring game, where he threw for 334 yards and three scores.
While the starting spot belongs to Coffman for now, Snyder said he wouldn’t hesitate to make a personnel change if he notices a change in Coffman or Gregory’s performance.
“I think Grant will respond appropriately [to the decision] and it will continue to be competitive,” he said. “That’s going to be important to this football team and the growth of this football team.”
The amount of time Coffman has been in Manhattan may have worked to his advantage in Snyder’s decision, but Gregory, a sixth-year senior, possesses more experience as a college quarterback. In the previous two seasons at South Florida, Gregory threw for 384 yards and four touchdowns in a reserve role.
Though Gregory said he was disappointed that he wasn’t named the starter, he said he trusts Coffman – his roommate during camp – to do a good job.
“Carson is a really good guy, a really good teammate,” Gregory said. “If I get my chance, I expect to play well. I expect Carson to play well and I expect me to play well. Coach said it took him a while to decide, which makes me feel decent about it. I know I can lead the offense too, but Carson gets first shot.”
Snyder said though Coffman will begin the game under center, he plans to give both quarterbacks significant playing time throughout the course of the game. Coffman said he knows Snyder wouldn’t hesitate to make the switch, so he wants to continue to improve.
“I think Grant’s an excellent player and he’s just right behind me, right on my tail,” he said. “I think he’s pushing me a lot and I still feel like I have to earn the job a little bit.”
Fans will get their first look at both quarterbacks when the Wildcats take the field against the Minutemen on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 6:10 p.m at Snyder Family Stadium.