Kansas State University

K-State football dealing with mounting injuries ahead of spring game

K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz huddles with the purple offense at last year’s spring game. He will miss Saturday’s scrimmage while he recovers from shoulder surgery. (April 23, 2016)
K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz huddles with the purple offense at last year’s spring game. He will miss Saturday’s scrimmage while he recovers from shoulder surgery. (April 23, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

Kansas State’s spring football game may finish earlier than usual on Saturday.

Bill Snyder rarely deviates from his traditional scrimmage format in which K-State starters go head-to-head with backups for four full quarters, but he is considering changes such as abbreviated quarters and a running clock.

Why? The Wildcats may not have enough healthy players for a three-hour game.

“We have kind of had a rough spring in regards to injuries,” Snyder said Tuesday. “I don’t talk about those, but it will be evident in the spring game when we hold some guys out.”

K-State is thin at several positions. Starting quarterback Jesse Ertz is still recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder and hasn’t attempted a pass this spring. Top defensive tackle Will Geary has been absent for unspecified reasons. Snyder also said the Wildcats have been without multiple offensive linemen.

In all, Snyder estimates K-State will play its spring game without six starters on offense and three starters on defense.

Who starts? Who plays? Stay tuned.

“We will hold them out,” Snyder said. “There are two or three of them that might go up to game day, but if it does I won’t risk it.”

A healthy roster is his top priority.

“We want to get those guys back quick enough so we can have a productive summer,” Snyder said.

With the bulk of K-State’s 2017 signing class off campus until June, depth has become an issue at spring practices.

It’s been most noticeable on offense. Earlier this month, running back Alex Barnes and quarterback Alex Delton openly bragged about the ease with which they gained yardage. But their defensive counterparts have since gained the upper hand, in part because of injuries.

“It has been hard at times,” Delton said. “But no spring period is going to be perfect. You aren’t going to go in there after a week of practice and think you are ready to go take on the Big 12. You are going to go through the week and gradually get better.

“We have seen that this spring with our youth. Some of the guys get bruises. Some other guys have to step up and take over for them. I feel really comfortable with our guys right now. They have stepped up and made plays.”

The Wildcats are hopeful they will perform at a higher level on offense Saturday.

“It’s nothing major, but when you are off a little bit with how young we are you don’t click the way you would like,” freshman quarterback Skylar Thompson said. “We have had some injuries and people have had to step up. It might not look ideal or be what we want it to look like, but we have progressed and gotten a lot better, which is great to see.”

Many young and unsung K-State players will get the chance to wear purple jerseys, line up as starters and show off their talents in front of a crowd for the first time Saturday.

Though not as ideal as a healthy roster, it could help K-State build depth in the long run.

“It will be nice to have everyone back healthy, because that shows how much better we can still be,” Delton said. “But as far as younger guys coming in and playing, they have done a great job.”

Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett

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