Mac Stevenson
Kansas State’s football team is completing their second week of spring practice, although the players may not agree with the “spring” description of the weather. Coach Bill Snyder is leading the Wildcats through these practices for the 27th time during his iconic career. K-State’s spring game will be at 1:10 on April 21 at Snyder Family Stadium.
K-State’s offense appears to be set for a big year; the offensive line returns almost intact and Snyder has two QBs that are experienced and talented. Skylar Thompson took over the starter’s role in the second half of the 2017 season and played superbly in leading the Wildcats to crucial late-season wins against Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State.
And then in the bowl game against UCLA, Thompson had an uncharacteristically poor first half and was relieved by Alex Delton, who played a terrific second half and led the Wildcats to their Cactus Bowl victory. Delton is the better runner of the two and rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns in the second half against UCLA. Thompson was a sophomore who had redshirted last year and he’s a run-pass threat for opposing defenses. It’s essential that college teams have two QBs; K-State is well-set at QB with Thompson and Delton.
As far as which of the two returning QBs will be the starter, that will be one of Snyder’s well-kept secrets until just before kickoff of the opening game. But look for Thompson to be the starting QB.
If K-State has any major issues on offense, it would be the talent and depth of the receiving corps; Byron Pringle and Dominique Heath are gone, leaving Isaiah Zuber and Dalton Schoen as the primary pass catchers. From here, it appears that Schoen has the ability and tenacity to become another in a long line of great K-State receivers.
Kansas State had a significant overhaul of their coaching staff, which hasn’t been well publicized. It’s a critical issue. Offensive coordinator Dana Dimel is gone and Snyder named Andre Coleman as Dimel’s successor. Considering Snyder’s advanced age for a college football coach, Coleman will have more responsibility than normal for a first-year OC. In addition, K-State’s veteran defensive coordinator, Tom Hayes, has retired; Snyder replaced him with Blake Seiler. Hayes and Dimel were established veterans and replacing them with rookie coordinators at these critical coaching positions could create issues.
K-State’s defense has more potential problems than the offense. Gone are the starting linebackers, star NT Will Geary, and exceptional cornerback D.J. Reed. Nevertheless, Snyder’s program always seems to come up with enough talented youngsters to fill the defensive gaps.
Special teams coach Sean Snyder faces the biggest challenge of all the coaches; he lost every key performer on another of his outstanding group of special teams. This could become a debilitating issue for the 2018 team; special teams are greatly underrated in importance and Sean Snyder will be starting from scratch with these vital units.
Kansas State has a chance to be a formidable football team this fall; however, the turnover among the assistant coaching staff and the total inexperience of the special teams could prove to be a notable weaknesses.
KU’s spring football game will be at 1:10 on April 28 at Memorial Stadium. There’s no purpose in trying to elevate the enthusiasm and hope of Jayhawk fans; the football program is at the bottom of the barrel and major improvement is not expected.
About the only important announcement from the Kansas camp is that starting center Mesa Ribordy and defensive end Isaiah Bean are off the team because of concussion problems and DE Dorance Armstrong left for the NFL draft.
Coach David Beaty focused his last recruiting effort on junior college players and that has proved to be a failure in the recent past. It’s going to be another long season for Kansas football.
KU basketball coach Bill Self has an exceptional freshman class coming and some talented transfers who will be eligible this fall, but the losses from last season’s overachieving team are staggering.
All four of the starting guards—Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman, and Lagerald Vick—are gone. Newman and Vick declared for the NBA draft last week; and Newman was KU’s best player during their great run in the NCAA Tournament.
Self has some outstanding freshmen guards coming, but depending on freshmen for the guard positions is a recipe for inconsistency. Kansas will hit some bumps in the road next season because of the inexperienced guards. But KU will have another formidable team if center Udoka Azubuike returns—as he should—for one more season. In any event, the Jayhawks will still have their most-valuable asset—Coach Bill Self.