The Kansas State Wildcats let the public in to watch one hour of practice on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Here are some observations from the team’s only open scrimmage of the preseason:
1. Dalvin Warmack got a lot of work ... at running back and receiver.
This really does seem like the year K-State follows through on its promise to better utilize Warmack’s versatile set of skills. The senior running back was featured in every aspect of the offense on Saturday. Starting running back Alex Barnes was the only ball-carrier who saw more touches out of the backfield, but Warmack passed him in total workload by also lining up with the receivers. K-State quarterbacks targeted him on many passing plays. Skylar Thompson even launched a bomb his direction in the corner of the end zone, at one point. Warmack beat his man on the play, but dropped the pass. Warmack ran for 252 yards on 48 carries last year. He also caught two passes for 33 yards. It’s a good bet those numbers will increase this season.
2. K-State’s QB derby remains too close to call, but Alex Delton outplayed Skylar Thompson while fans were in attendance.
It’s impossible to say anything absolute about a position battle based on a single hour of observation, especially when the season remains three weeks away, but Delton seemed to have a slight advantage on this day. He completed a nice pass to Isaiah Harris during scrimmage work and hit most of his receivers deep during seven-on-seven drills. Thompson also had some nice throws, but freshman defensive back Lance Robinson jumped one route against him for an interception.
3. Two players were noticeably absent from practice.
Elijah Sullivan, a junior linebacker who is projected to start this season, was not in attendance Saturday. Sam Sizelove, a senior with limited experience, took his place with the first-team defense. Neither was Mike McCoy, a sophomore running back whom many expect to see get touches behind Barnes. Why weren’t they out there? That remains unknown. A team spokesman said he had no information to share on either player.
4. Defensive depth chart coming together.
K-State enters the season with several question marks on defense. Who will take Will Geary’s place on the defensive line? Who will step up at cornerback? And who will start at defensive end? Saturday provided some answers. Kyle Ball and Reggie Walker were the top pass-rushers, while defensive tackle Joe Davies was playing alongside returning starter Trey Dishon. A.J. Parker played opposite Duke Shelley at corner, and Walter Neil saw most of the reps at nickelback.
5. A small switch on the offensive line.
K-State seems poised to start the same five offensive linemen it did a year ago up front — Scott Frantz, Tyler Mitchell, Adam Holtorf, Abdul Beecham and Dalton Risner. But on Saturday the Wildcats were at least experimenting with Beecham at left guard and Mitchell at right guard, a swap from last season. Redshirt freshman Josh Rivas seems ready to challenge for a starting spot, but he spent his time with the backups in practice.
6. Roster departures.
The Wildcats released an updated roster on Saturday. It appears four players have left the team since the start of preseason practice. They are linebacker Rashaan York, defensive back Jordan Noil, and offensive linemen Dylan Couch and Jonathan Olsson.