It was hard for Kansas State running backs to watch replays of their first game.
Charles Jones, Justin Silmon and Dalvin Warmack combined for 76 yards on 16 carries, their longest run went for 14 yards and they failed to deliver a touchdown. There were no highlights.
It was frustrating, and reliving it made things worse. But those negative emotions started to disappear when the team quit watching itself and began studying its next opponent, Florida Atlantic.
One look at the Owls’ defense, which allowed Miami to rush for 279 yards last week, will make any opposing running back smile.
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“I have confidence in my offensive line and in our running backs. I feel like (our success) is past due,” Silmon said. “It’s about time we show up and do some big things for our offense. Whenever we get on the field we can make those plays. We haven’t proven it yet, but I think we are capable.”
K-State’s running game should be more than capable of reeling off big plays against Florida Atlantic, which ranks 104th nationally against the run after letting a pair of Miami runners eclipse 120 yards. If not, a long season of plodding awaits.
Silmon, the only offensive player to speak with media this week, is too polite to publicly admit he expects a day of explosive runs against Florida Atlantic. The last thing he wants to do is provide the Owls with bulletin-board material.
To that end, K-State coach Bill Snyder credited Miami’s fullback for springing the majority of the Hurricanes’ big running plays against a solid defense. That might not be so easy for the Wildcats to replicate.
“The challenges for our running backs are the same all the time, but they’re just a part of being able to advance the ball in the running game,” Snyder said. “Our offensive linemen have a lot to do with that, our receivers play a big role in the big-play facet of the running game, as well as our tight ends and fullback. If you watch that Miami game, their fullback is bigger than four of you put together. He is a sizable young guy and he was very, very effective in that ballgame. He created some running lanes for their running backs.”
Still, Silmon rushed for 119 yards the last time K-State played a Conference USA opponent, Louisiana Tech, at home. He hasn’t eclipsed 50 yards since. Jones topped 100 yards against Texas last season, but he hasn’t topped 50 yards in his past three games. Warmack has never topped 40 yards.
Now is the time for them to escape those doldrums.
“We just got to keep pushing,” Silmon said. “I feel like we are going to have some breakthroughs. I feel like we have the guys to do it. We just have to keep working and it will come along. We have seen some things we are going to try and do. I feel like if we execute and run hard we can break big runs against anybody we play. It is up to us to make the most of our opportunities.”
The Wildcats should have room to run against the Owls.
If they don’t, running backs will have another depressing week of replays to watch.
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett
Florida Atlantic at Kansas State
- When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
- Where: Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan
- Radio: KQAM, 1480-AM; KWLS, 107.9-FM
- TV: FSKC
Three things about Florida Atlantic
1. Kalib Woods is capable of making big plays against K-State’s defense. The junior receiver had 121 yards against Miami last week.
2. The Owls can punt the ball a long way. Dalton Schomp led the nation in yards per punt last season, averaging 48 yards.
3. Florida Atlantic quarterback Jason Driskel, who is averaging 227 passing yards, might sound and look familiar to K-State fans. His brother, Jeff, played quarterback at Louisiana Tech last season. K-State beat the Bulldogs in triple overtime.
K-State’s backfield vs. Florida Atlantic’s front seven. The Wildcats haven’t had a big day on the ground in ages. They need to change that against one of the softest run defenses they will see this season.
Kellis Robinett’s pick: K-State, 45-14
The Wildcats should have no problem in this one. Expect the offense to look much improved from the Stanford loss. With the defense also flexing its muscles, K-State should win handily.