Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson surveyed the defense and decided to change the play. He turned to Dalton Schoen and made a hand signal. Then he called for the football out of a shotgun snap. He looked confident and comfortable in command of the Wildcats’ offense.
So it came as no surprise when he dropped back seconds later and floated a perfectly thrown pass 42 yards down field to Schoen, who slipped behind his defender for a touchdown.
Thompson went on to complete 13 of 18 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 66 yards and another score, in a 41-17 victory over Texas-San Antonio on Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium. But that was his brightest moment.
It was the type of play that signaled the end of any talk about a quarterback controversy and showed why Snyder has started him over Alex Delton in all three of K-State’s football games this season.
“He has handled everything this year well,” Schoen said. “Obviously, he was put in a tough situation being in a quarterback battle, having to split reps. I like how he really took command today and led our offense. He did a great job spreading the ball around, and we were efficient in the passing game.”
Snyder said earlier in the week he would allow Thompson to play with a longer leash than he did against South Dakota or Mississippi State, when Delton was rotated in before halftime. That decision turned out to be a wise move.
Thompson, a redshirt sophomore, fed off the public vote of confidence and played one of the most complete games of his college career and delivered a major confidence boost to K-State’s struggling offense, which scored one touchdown in each of its first two games and managed just 213 yards last week.
He was at his best in the first half, completing passes to seven receivers and leading the Wildcats to a 27-7 lead. In addition to his bomb to Schoen, he hit Isaiah Zuber for a 23-yard touchdown, Zach Reuter for a gain of 37 and Alex Barnes for a pickup of 30.
“Skylar read the defense perfectly,” Zuber said. “He picked them apart. That’s something he can do every week.”
The offense looked sharp, just in time for the start of Big 12 play next week at West Virginia.
“Skylar’s touchdown passes were excellent throws,” Snyder said, “thread the needle kind of things. He played well.”
Thompson played the entire first half and stayed on the field for the start of the third quarter. That’s when he used a nifty fake handoff and juke near the line of scrimmage to break free for a touchdown run of 27 yards.
The Wildcats led 34-7 with 9:15 remaining in the third quarter, and his day was done … for all the right reasons.
Thompson doesn’t need to look over his shoulder anymore.
Delton came in and heaved a 72-yard touchdown to Zuber on his first series to make it 41-7, but did little otherwise. He enters Big 12 games as a solid backup option.
K-State needed a game like this, a nice easy victory in which backups get on the field and everyone feels good about themselves, and Thompson delivered.
You might not think that means a great deal, considering the drop-off in competition from Mississippi State to UTSA. After all, K-State was favored by 21. Still, this could be a significant outing for a young passer who entered the game trying to prove himself.
It was certainly encouraging to see him get busy from the start and lead K-State on a 10 play, 78 yard touchdown drive on his first series. Thompson has already led the Wildcats to three different fourth-quarter comebacks, and built a reputation as a second-half warrior, but he has rarely started well.
That wasn’t the case here. The Wildcats only punted once in the first half.
“When you think about it, that is the first touchdown we have scored in the first half this season,” Snyder said. “That is important and significant. That I something we need to do. It can’t be a one time thing.”
Snyder was right to put his trust in Thompson.
Now we get to see how far a confident and comfortable Thompson can guide this offense.