A few minutes with … Sean Snyder

Sean Snyder is coming off his first season as Kansas State’s special teams coordinator, and he can’t wait for year No. 2 to start. The son of Wildcats football coach Bill Snyder has been associated with the program for years, and he likes the direction it is going.

He thinks highly of both kicker Anthony Cantele and punter Ryan Doerr. With both coming back as veterans, he thinks K-State’s special teams unit is capable of big things.

While participating in Big 12 Media Days alongside his father, he discussed those topics and more on Monday. Here is the conversation:

How did you enjoy your first year as special teams coordinator?

I enjoyed it a great deal. The transitional part was interesting, because I had to just get my hands on a lot of different things. That was probably the most difficult part. But being able to get on the field and coach the kids and watch them develop was great.

One of the things that made it a lot easier is all our coaches are instrumental in special teams. We didn’t really have a major hiccup in the transition, because all of our coaches are involved in special teams and they have been for years. We all worked together and made the transition smooth. The players handled it very well.

K-State special teams appear to be in good shape with Anthony Cantele returning at kicker and Ryan Doerr coming back as punter. How much of an advantage is it to have two experienced guys at those positions?

It helps a lot. The more returners you have back the more comfort you have. What I like about those guys is they have the drive to get better. They want to get better and know how to get better. I think they have gotten better and I expect a strong year for them. That part of it is good. There is some stability and continuity there. The new guys who are coming on the unit can learn it fast.

What does Doerr need to do to become a better punter?

The biggest thing with Ryan is going to be consistency, being able to have a little bit more control, whether it be with directional punting, hang time, whether it’s pooch punting … Just continuing improvement in those areas. He is always getting better. They are important to him.

What does Cantele need to do to become a better kicker?

Now that the kickoff rule has changed, getting touchbacks is going to be important. Hanging the ball up high is going to be important. Field goal wise it’s continuing to do what he does best. He’s a real good field goal kicker. He needs to kind of eliminate some of the misses he has had here and there, though. He gets the ball off good, he gets it up in the air good, it’s just a matter of consistency.

Does he have the leg to consistently provide touchbacks?

He should be able to, yeah. Now that they have moved it up five yards, there isn’t a kicker in the conference who can’t kick it out. To be honest with you, the five yard difference is an unbelievable mind game with kids. You move up to the 35 and all of a sudden they are kicking it out of the end zone. You move it back to the 30 and it’s landing on the goal line. It’s kind of interesting how that works out. I expect a lot of things out of those guys.

You mentioned changes to the kickoff rules. How do you see kicking from the 35 and taking touchbacks to the 25 impacting the game?

It will make some changes. What do you do? Kick it deep and put the ball on the 25? Or do you kick it up high and try to pin teams and force them to return it? Some teams will just turn around and kick it out every time. But I’m sure there will be teams that try to pin you deep. It will vary team to team.

Now that you have been an assistant coach for a year, do you have any new career goals?

I enjoy what I do. I like coaching and my current position. Wherever it takes me, it takes me.

How is your son, Tate Snyder (a sophomore linebacker) doing?

He’s coming along. Hopefully he can come out and go full speed before long. He’s just plugging along.

He got injured and had to undergo surgery almost one year ago. How much longer will his rehab take?

That’s a good question. He’s still got a little bit left of his rehab. If he gets himself in good shape, hopefully he can get in position to get on the field. He’s been at it a long time. He had his surgery last year and had a little mishap during his rehab and extended it out. He had some cartilage behind his kneecap that needed removed. It’s a long rehab.

Let’s go the other way. How is your father, Bill Snyder doing?

He’s doing well. He’s doing really well. He is in as good of shape as he has been ever in. He is energetic. I can’t keep up with him. I try and I can’t. He’s still a burner.

Do you think he is energized about the possibility of a strong season?

Every year, he looks at it as a new challenge. Depending on how good the team is or how bad the team is coming in, being successful is tough and being successful each year is tough. Each year presents a new challenge with a new team. One thing he is, he’s really steady in not taking things for granted. He is always pushing to make sure the coaches aren’t and the players aren’t. A lot of things can go wrong when you assume you’re good. The thing we try to do is determine whether we’re good at the end of the season instead of the start.

What was your reaction to K-State being picked to finish sixth in the Big 12’s preseason media poll?

It’s been like that ever since I’ve been here. Nothing changes. I can remember years when we finished in the top 10 and we still always seemed to end up in the middle of the conference. It is what it is.

How does the team handle that?

We deal with it. We have our own way of doing it with all that stuff. The external expectations, the polls are going to be what they are, but internally we have to manage that the best way we can. Some of it becomes motivation, some of it becomes disappointment, some of it becomes happiness, there are all sorts of emotions evolved in it. It’s just a matter of cornering it and moving it in the right direction.