Blog – Hand the Keys to Sams

October 7, 20131 Comment

By Cole Manbeck

For those of you who are still questioning Daniel Sams as a passer following Kansas State’s 33-29 loss at Oklahoma State on Saturday, I have some questions for you:

What were your thoughts on Ell Roberson as a sophomore when he completed 37 percent of his passes to go along with four touchdowns and nine interceptions? Did you come away from that season thinking Roberson would never amount to being much of a passer?

If you take six of Roberson’s games from his sophomore year (at Oklahoma, Colorado, Texas A&M, at Iowa State, at Nebraska and the bowl game vs. Syracuse), Roberson combined to go 33-of-112 passing with three touchdowns and seven interceptions. That’s a completion percentage of 29 percent. What’d you think of Roberson after each of those games?

What’d you think of Michael Bishop when he ranked 102nd out of 103 qualified quarterbacks in completion percentage in the 1997 season? What’d you think of Jonathan Beasley when he completed just 44 percent of his passes as a junior (ranking 103rd out of 106 qualified quarterbacks), and was benched during a road game at Iowa State after going 3-of-10 passing for 24 yards and an interception? Or how about the 2000 season, when Beasley had a four-game stretch where he completed 53-of-136 passes (39 percent) to go along with five touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Bishop, Roberson and Beasley – three of the best quarterbacks in K-State history – and guess what, they struggled at times, particularly in their first season as a starter. And if you’re being honest with yourselves, I’m willing to bet a large number of you had your fair share of doubts about each of them as passers early in their careers (although there was no doubting Bishop’s arm strength, which was phenomenal).

So now I’ll ask you this: What’d you think of Daniel Sams after he completed 71 percent of his passes for two touchdowns and three interceptions while rushing for 118 yards on 27 attempts Saturday? Keep in mind that this was the first time Sams had the opportunity to operate under an open playbook, and it came on the road at the 20th-ranked team in the country without K-State’s top two wide receivers to throw to.

Look, it’s certainly fair to have some doubts about Sams, because he made some very poor decisions in the second half of the game at Oklahoma State. He had significant struggles when it came to throwing the ball downfield, and both interceptions in the game’s final 4 minutes had no business being thrown.

But Sams also displayed worlds of potential. The sophomore was extremely accurate on passes that ranged anywhere from 5 to 15 yards. And we already know how good of a runner he is. And with K-State trailing 23-21, Sams engineered a crucial 11-play, 57-yard touchdown drive that ate up 7:02 on the clock and gave K-State a 29-23 lead with 6 minutes left to play. Sams, along with a strong effort from the defense, had the Wildcats in a position to win late in the contest in Stillwater – a place K-State hadn’t won at since 1999.

I mentioned Roberson’s sophomore stats earlier, and that’s who I believe to be the best comparison for Sams. Both operated under a two-quarterback system as sophomores. The two guys they were competing with for the starting jobs were both junior college transfers who were more known for their passing rather than their running abilities.

The sample size remains very small on Sams and the schedule is cranking up in difficulty, but thus far this season, he has completed 18 of his 25 passes (72 percent) with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He has rushed for 356 yards and four touchdowns on 56 carries (5.8 yards per carry). Again, Roberson completed 56 of his 151 passes as a sophomore (37 percent), had four touchdowns, nine interceptions, and rushed for 643 yards on 142 carries (4.5 yards per carry). And by the time he was a senior, Roberson was a much-improved passer, completing 52 percent of his throws for 2,545 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 13 games.

I don’t have a crystal ball to predict the future for Sams. I don’t know if he will develop like Roberson did during his K-State career. But I do know one thing after watching Saturday’s game: The potential is there. Sams has a high ceiling, and if he can reach it – or even come close to it – K-State could have a dynamic quarterback for the next two seasons after this year.

It’s time to hand the keys to the sophomore full time. From here on out, let Sams drive the car that is the K-State offense. He might ding the door a few times and might get in a small fender bender so to speak, but all of that is fixable. And because of those mistakes, he will become a better conductor of the offense in the future. There will certainly be growing pains. But if the K-State coaches are willing to live through the mistakes this season, I believe there’s a good chance they’ll be rewarded for it next season and the year after. And possibly even this season.

Ell Roberson’s Passing Stats as a Sophomore


Passing Stats


7-16, 26 yards; 0 TDs, 1 interception

New Mexico State

7-10, 181 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions

At Oklahoma

12-32, 257 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception

At Colorado

10-29, 107 yards, 0 TDs, 2 interceptions

Texas A&M

4-13, 31 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception


2-2, 31 yards, 0 TDs, 0 interceptions

At Iowa State

4-12, 72 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions

At Nebraska

1-11, 32 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions

Louisiana Tech

6-8, 107 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception


1-3, 11 yards, 0 TDs, 0 interceptions


2-15, 70 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception

Totals: 11 games

56-151, 925 yards, 4 TDs, 9 interceptions

Ell Roberson’s Passing Stats as a Junior


Passing Stats

Western Kentucky

4-8, 108 yards, 0 TDs, 0 interceptions

Louisiana Monroe

2-2, 27 yards, 0 TDs, 0 interceptions


10-15, 134 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions

At Colorado

5-13, 83 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception

Oklahoma State

9-17, 202 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception


7-18, 102 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions

At Baylor

7-17, 54 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception


9-14, 157 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions

Iowa State

12-17, 162 yards, 0 TDs, 0 interceptions


4-8, 92 yards, 0 TDs, 0 interceptions

At Missouri

11-18, 244 yards, 1 TD, 1 interceptions

Arizona State

11-28, 215 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions

Totals: 12 games

91-175, 1,580 yards, 7 TDs, 4 interceptions

Ell Roberson’s Passing Stats as a Senior


Passing Stats


9-18, 205 yards, 3 TDs, 0 interceptions


9-23, 234 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions

McNeese State

3-6, 63 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions

At Texas

5-18, 89 yards, 0 TDs, 2 interceptions

At Oklahoma State

20-34, 332 yards, 4 TDs, 3 interceptions


20-28, 242 yards, 3 TDs, 0 interceptions


10-19, 138 yards, 1 TD, 0 interceptions


14-24, 242 yards, 3 TDs, 0 interceptions

At Iowa State

10-12, 96 yards, 2 TDs, 0 interceptions

At Nebraska

15-28, 313 yards, 2 TDs, 3 interceptions


7-16, 70 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception


10-17, 227 yards, 4 TDs, 0 interceptions

Ohio State

20-51, 294 yards, 0 TDs, 1 interception

Totals: 13 games

152-294, 2,545 yards, 24 TDs, 12 interceptions

*Big 12 Championship game

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  1. mike bowie says:

    Tremendous analysis. I really enjoy all the research that goes into every thing you write. We miss reading your stuff at the Mercury. Powercat Gameday is fortunate to have you on their team. Keep up the good work

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