Whenever K-State sophomore quarterback Daniel Sams enters the game, he said he wants to send a strong message that he’s in there to provide a spark and make a difference.
“I like to think of it that way as far as sending a message, I would say don’t forget about me,” Sams said. “It’s my job to make plays and make positive things happen for this offense.”
So far this season, Sams’ impact in head coach Bill Snyder’s two-quarterback system has been nothing but positive.
Snyder uses junior quarterback Jake Waters as the primary passer at quarterback, while Sams comes in more times than not to run the ball. Entering the Wildcats Saturday night matchup against the Texas Longhorns, Sams is second in the Big 12 in yards per carry with 7.5, trailing only Baylor junior running back Lache Seastrunk.
“I like the way it is going right now,” Sams said of the two-quarterback system. “We both get more time in there. We get to find our confidence and just let the game come to us.”
Waters said he concurs with Sams and believes that Snyder has a great grasp of when to plug in either himself or Sams into the game.
“He has been pushing all of the right buttons so far with us,” Waters said. “We are ready every play whether he is calling my number or Daniel’s number. Coach Snyder knows what it takes to win and we are all for it.”
It was announced on the Monday prior to the Wildcats season opener that Waters had won the quarterback battle in fall camp. However, Sams said he figured it out much earlier.
“I actually knew probably a week into camp,” Sams said.
Despite losing the starting job, Sams was told by Snyder that he would still see the field, so the Louisiana native kept his drive up during training camp.
“I still never lost focus because Coach Snyder stated that we both would play, even though he’s the starter,” Sams said.
In K-State’s Week 1 loss to FCS champion North Dakota State, Sams saw the field for just one play. However, that one snap in the third quarter turned into a 17 yard touchdown which gave the Wildcats a 14-point lead.
Sams said that he was the one who went up to Snyder and suggested he be plugged into the game.
“I actually told Coach Snyder before that play with the touchdown, I told him, ‘Coach, I can get this first down, I can make it happen,’ and he trusted me, and that’s when I scored,” Sams said.
Despite scoring on his only play of the game, Sams said that he didn’t ask Snyder to be put back in the rest of the game.
“I didn’t approach him again because I didn’t want to seem like a selfish player,” Sams said.
Since that Week 1 loss though, Sams has seen the field exponentially more. In Week 2 against Louisiana, he carried the ball eight times and threw it twice for 90 total yards. Then last week against UMass, Sams racked up 11 carries and two more passes for 89 total yards.
Where Sams could really make an impact though is this week against Texas. The Longhorns rank 121 out of 123 FBS teams in rush defense this season. In Week 2 against BYU, Texas gave up 550 yards on the ground including 259 yards to sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill.
Sams could have a similar impact in Austin as the Wildcats open up Big 12 play, although he aware that the Longhorns could be expecting Sams to play more as well.
“I get excited, but at the same time, Texas knows what we do as a team,” Sams said. “They know we are running the quarterback run game, so I don’t really get too excited. Not saying what BYU did was a fluke, but I am sure they are prepared more against what we do than what happened against BYU.”
Snyder said that while Sams is sure to see the field against Texas, how the Longhorns come out defensively will determine how much he uses either Waters or Sams.
“Daniel will play this week. I think that is quite obvious,” Snyder said. “It hasn’t changed week in and week out. There are certain things that you would like to be able to do, and you have a plan in place, but that will be dictated by the University of Texas as much as anything. Any opponent has the ability to take away what they want to take away and force you to do some other things.”
Regardless, Sams said he is just excited to see the field under the bright lights of Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, which holds over 100,000 people, on Saturday night.
“I tweeted about playing in front of 100,000 plus and that is the situation I thrive for, to be in that type of environment,” Sams said. “This is what we worked for ever since camp and running those sprints. It is opening conference, so what gets better than that?”