Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Skylar Thompson, Isaiah Zuber, Duke Shelley and Mississippi State

K-State QB Skylar Thompson breaks down his TD pass

Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson breaks down his fourth quarter touchdown pass to Isaiah Zuber against South Dakota on Sept. 1, 2018.
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Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson breaks down his fourth quarter touchdown pass to Isaiah Zuber against South Dakota on Sept. 1, 2018.

Before we dive into your questions, here are some quick thoughts on Kansas State’s new $230 million plan for facility upgrades:

  • Not sure which project takes priority, but it seems like the Bramlage Coliseum renovations, the new volleyball arena and the indoor football practice facility will be at the top of the list.
  • Ahearn Fieldhouse (where K-State volleyball currently plays home matches) lacks air conditioning and parking, but it seems like some fans aren’t ready to stop using the old barn for athletic purposes. My guess is it will live on in some form. Maybe as a recreational space like the old football stadium next door or an academic area. How cool would it be to play pickup basketball in there?
  • Wish K-State could install new video boards on the south end of the stadium now. The current one is starting to look small.
  • Eliminating 400 parking spots for a practice facility is less than ideal, and that seems to be the only real gripe about these plans. Not sure what the alternative is, though. Coach Bill Snyder dislikes the current indoor facility because it is too far away (opposite side of Bramlage). You have to build the new one closer.

Now. let’s get to your questions. Thanks, as always, for providing them. It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">For some reason I feel a bounce back performance coming Saturday. Maybe I got too much sugar? Your thoughts?</p>&mdash; Bradley Beach (@BeachBradley) <a href="https://twitter.com/BeachBradley/status/1037722471422681088?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I agree with you. The point spread for this game (up to nine in some places) is too high.

K-State is a notoriously slow starting team with a history of FCS struggles in openers. But that rarely stops the Wildcats from improving and having strong seasons.

Exhibit A: K-State needed a late touchdown pass from Collin Klein to Chris Harper to beat Eastern Kentucky 10-7 in 2011 and went on to win 10 games.

Exhibit B: North Dakota State defeated K-State 24-21 in 2013 and the Wildcats went on to win eight games.

In a few years, we may look back at this season as Exhibit C. I think Week 1 shaped up perfectly for Bill Snyder’s team. The Wildcats used a vanilla strategy, played poorly and still won. Thirteen penalties, a dropped touchdown pass, two lost fumbles ... No way all that happens again.

Meanwhile, Mississippi State cruised in its opener and comes to Manhattan with nothing to worry about as a big favorite. K-State won’t lack for motivation this weekend.

If the Wildcats can figure out their QB rotation (cough, play Skylar Thompson more, cough) then I think they will bounce back and have a good showing against the Bulldogs. Good enough to win? Maybe, maybe not. Mississippi State is the more talented team, and K-State hasn’t beaten a ranked nonconference team at home since 2002. But I expect the Cats to play a much better, cleaner game.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Since the two QB system is off to such an amazing start, will K-State consider switching the QB after each play, as opposed to every other series?</p>&mdash; Matt Schmidt (@Schmidtburgh) <a href="https://twitter.com/Schmidtburgh/status/1037723722935922688?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

K-State handled the QB rotation about as poorly as it could have in the opener.

Skylar Thompson didn’t make a mistake in his first three series, yet was replaced by Alex Delton for the majority of the next two quarters. And that was while Delton was making big mistakes, including throwing a pick six.

I went back and charted every offensive play from the South Dakota game and came to the conclusion that Thompson had a much better game than Delton. I know Snyder wants to play both quarterbacks again this week, but I think there will be a change in how the snaps are shared.

My guess: Thompson gets 75 percent of the plays, and Delton gets the rest. Things could obviously change if one player gets hot. But I’ve already fallen out of favor with the two-quarterback system. K-State coaches watch film much more closely than I do. They will probably see the same thing and favor Thompson.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Should Skylar Thompson’s stat line really say 3 TD, 0 INT instead of 1 TD, 1 INT? Lenners dropped an easy one and Schoen played hot potato on a play that could have been 6.</p>&mdash; Jordan Smith (@Jordan_ICT) <a href="https://twitter.com/Jordan_ICT/status/1037741621813624832?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

At the least, it should really say: 2 TD, 0 INT.

I’m not sure Dalton Schoen would have taken that to the house. But it would have been close. If Lenners and Schoen don’t make those gaffes, Thompson finishes 10 of 13 for about 130 yards and two or three TDs. That’s another reason why I think he plays more this week.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What percentage of the playbook will be available against Miss St? Also after KState wins, (goal #13) will a QB finally be solidified as the starter?</p>&mdash; Curtis Dawson (@lunchbox_77) <a href="https://twitter.com/lunchbox_77/status/1037728385294721025?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Unlike last week, the entire playbook should be available. I’m looking forward to much more creativity from the new coaching staff.

And, yes, if K-State wins this game and one of the quarterbacks leads the Cats to victory, that’s your long-term starter at QB.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I asked <a href="https://twitter.com/jlkurtz?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jlkurtz</a> this very poorly worded question back in June to NO RESPONSE, but after S Dakota maybe it&#39;s more relevant. I&#39;m not buying the &quot;we&#39;ll see&quot; narrative around Zuber - he&#39;s been our guy.<br><br>Lockett first 2 years: 62 receptions (933yds, 7td)<br>Zuber: 75 catches (702, 6td) <a href="https://t.co/tw1MxAZr9G">pic.twitter.com/tw1MxAZr9G</a></p>&mdash; dan youngman (@danyoungman) <a href="https://twitter.com/danyoungman/status/1037773739490869249?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

The way Isaiah Zuber played against South Dakota was encouraging. Very encouraging. It might be a turning point for his college football career, the moment he seriously starts marching toward all-conference honors.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. He didn’t burn anyone deep. His longest catch went for 20 yards.

Zuber is a playmaker, and he has a knack for finding open space in the end zone. If he keeps improving, he will have a very nice K-State career. I’m just not ready to compare him to Lockett, who topped 1,200 yards as a junior and 1,500 yards as a senior.

I am definitely beyond the “we’ll see” stage. He’s definitely taken a step forward. Once he becomes a deep threat we’ll talk about more.

I figured out how to embed your Twitter questions even with all those emojis attached to your handle. Before I answer your question, I must pause for an evil laugh.

Yes, I saw improvement from the defense against South Dakota. Liked what I saw from Reggie Walker and Kyle Ball at defensive. They did an excellent job putting pressure on the quarterback. It was fun to see Walker’s sack dance again. New coordinator Blake Seiler blitzed from new areas and tried to disguise formations a little more than Tom Hayes. That’s a step in the right direction.

I was also impressed by Kevion McGee and the way he came off the bench to break up four passes.

The secondary, as a whole, could use some work, though. Did you see what South Dakota receiver Levi Falck (11 catches for 140 yards) accomplished? K-State’s defensive backs made him look untouchable. Not sure what exactly to blame that on. An off night from Duke Shelley? Kendall Adams surprisingly splitting reps with Eli Walker?

Mississippi State hurts you on the ground more than through the air. Still, K-State will need to improve against the pass.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Does Duke Shelley turn it around this week or does he continue to get picked on?</p>&mdash; Mike Smith (@mik35mith) <a href="https://twitter.com/mik35mith/status/1037725629817516032?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

He can’t do much worse, right? Falck destroyed him.

To his credit, Duke Shelley didn’t give up any deep passes against South Dakota. Falck’s longest catch of the day went for 34 yards. He mostly a terror on short stuff, like Julian Edelman. Mississippi State spread the ball around to 12 different receivers in its opener. So maybe the Bulldogs won’t throw that many passes Shelley’s way.

South Dakota was also the first game for new secondary coach Brian Norwood. Here’s guessing some things get smoothed out this week. For now, I’m willing to write it off as one bad game.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Please rank these games from least to most embarrassing for the Big 12 conference<br>TTU losing by 20 to Ole Miss<br>Texas falling to Maryland<br>KU losing to Nicholls<br>K-State winning by 3</p>&mdash; Real MVP of K-State Q&amp;A (@C_nrad) <a href="https://twitter.com/C_nrad/status/1037722011072643074?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Kansas State beat South Dakota, so that’s the obvious choice for least embarrassing. In the words of legendary street racer turned super hero Dominic Toretto, “It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning.”

KU losing to a FCS team is probably next. That was a toss-up game. Everyone knows the Jayhawks are bad.

Give me Ole Miss over Texas Tech next. That’s a win the Red Raiders and Kliff Kingsbury really needed. But the Rebels (or Landsharks, whatever they are) looked good. That might not turn out to be such a black eye, just a missed opportunity.

Maryland over Texas is the clear winner. Another year, another pathetic start for the Longhorns. Maryland beat Texas last year and only went 4-8. I doubt the Terrapins win that many games this year. It truly is a bad look for the Big 12 when one of its premier football programs is getting swept by one of the worst football programs in the Big Ten. I’m not ready to write off the Longhorns this year (don’t be surprised if they beat Southern California in Week 3) but Tom Herman’s team is in a hole after Week 1.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">When is Sean Snyder going to get credit for being one of the Best Special Teams Coaches not just in his era, but in the history of College Football? Look at the Prince years. We were still good. If his last name was not Snyder he would get more credit.</p>&mdash; Matthew Leo Birzer (@PowercatEng) <a href="https://twitter.com/PowercatEng/status/1037725860932059136?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

He’s won awards for being the nation’s best special teams coordinator, and he is nominated for the honor pretty much every year.

I think he gets adequate credit.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Uglier season opening win? South Dakota 18&#39; or Eastern Kentucky 11&#39;</p>&mdash; Patrick Hines (@patemaw7) <a href="https://twitter.com/patemaw7/status/1037750808912244737?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Eastern Kentucky. That was one of the ugliest games I’ve ever covered.

K-State trailed 7-3 late in the fourth quarter with an offense that featured Collin Klein, Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett and Bryce Brown (Yeah, he played that night). How?

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-cards="hidden" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">We used to be a spot that Big Monday visited often, why aren&#39;t we getting any Big Monday games at home this year? I understand attendance was disheartening last year, but I expect many more 12,528 attendance numbers this year...</p>&mdash; Zach Etzel (@KsZach14) <a href="https://twitter.com/KsZach14/status/1037722726214053888?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 6, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I understand the disappointment of not getting a single home Big Monday game this year, but this doesn’t seem like anything worth getting overly upset about.

You can honestly spin it as a compliment. ESPN usually designates K-State’s home game against KU for Big Monday. Why? Because that’s usually a much closer game than when K-State travels to KU. But now that K-State has taken KU to the wire in back-to-back years at Allen Fieldhouse, ESPN thinks that game is the better TV draw.

If ESPN is putting your road games against Kansas and West Virginia on Big Monday, it’s a sign you have a good team.

Would it be better if one of those Monday games, or TCU, was at home instead of on the road? Yes. But K-State gets five Saturday home games instead. And Saturday is when K-State gets its biggest crowds.

Let’s remember K-State’s home game against KU will still be televised nationally in prime time. Does it really matter that the game will be played on a Tuesday instead of a Monday? The crowd will still be electric. The viewing audience will be about the same. Why not call it Bigger Tuesday?

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