Collin Klein came out of Saturday’s spring football game as the clear front-runner in Kansas State’s three-man quarterback battle, but his competition is nowhere near ready to concede defeat.
Both Sammuel Lamur and Justin Tuggle said they liked the way they played throughout spring practices, and could be in position to challenge for the starting spot with a productive summer and a strong showing during fall camp.
Lamur, a senior who completed 16 of 27 passes for 156 yards while playing with the second-team offense, hopes he can continue playing the way he did during the second half of the spring game.
“I felt comfortable with the first half, but the second half brought improvement,” Lamur said. “I had more completions, and my positive for the game was no turnovers. That’s big for a quarterback. I felt like we were moving the ball more and moving the chains in the second half. I improved as the game went on, and that’s always a positive.”
Lamur’s biggest improvement was seen when he stopped throwing deep on every other play. In the first half, he continually tried to lob difficult passes down field and was unable to connect.
After a while, he realized a change needed to be made. His adjustment paid off.
“As a quarterback you like to chuck it up a little bit,” Lamur said. “But it was coming pretty fast. I realized we weren’t moving the ball very well. I was talking to myself and I had to manage the game. So I started going with runs and short passes and we started moving the chains.
“That was a positive right there. I realized you can open up with things like that and then be more creative, instead of starting right there. It was a learning experience.”
Tuggle learned a lot, too. He’s looking forward to learning more.
“The sooner I pick everything up, the smoother my transition will be,” Tuggle said. “I feel like I made a lot of progress in these 15 practices. I’m just excited for the things to come this summer. I think something really special is going to happen.”
Tuggle, a highly touted junior-college transfer, saw limited action in the spring game. He completed four of six passes for 62 yards and threw an interception. At the moment, he is clearly at the bottom of the pecking order.
More was expected out of Tuggle, but he said he has struggled to adapt to K-State’s offense and is still learning the playbook. His transition back to Division I has only just begun.
“I feel like I’m still at the beginning stages,” Tuggle said. “I understand things, but still there is a lot that needs to be done. I feel like once I get everything done I can get back to playing at the speed I play at and get back to doing the things I do on the field.
“I feel that I had a pretty good day (Saturday) but there is still a lot of room for improvement. I’m just excited for the time I’ll have this summer when I can get everything down and head into the season.”
He has one goal in mind before then.
“Just learn the system,” Tuggle said. “Get the system 100 percent down. Right now I’m thinking a lot. I’m not thinking too much, but I feel like I want to get to the point where I’m comfortable and I can get out there and just react.
“When you get to that point you play fast, everything comes to you and everything is just going slow. I feel like I’m out here playing good now but when I get everything else down I can kick into another gear.”
But it’s not as if he didn’t have a few bright moments over the weekend.
He twice moved K-State’s second-team offense into scoring range, and had a highlight moment in the second quarter when he spun out of trouble, kept a broken play alive with his feet and connected with Arrison Davis for a 36-yard gain.
All things considered, he’s pleased with how things have gone since arriving in Manhattan.
“I’m just excited about the opportunity that I’m in,” Tuggle said, “and the spot that I’m in. All I think I need is more reps to make things happen, because I feel like I can learn more when I’m on the field. I’m just excited about the summer to get those reps.”