The Kansas State football team enters its annual Sunflower Showdown rivalry game against Kansas with new levels of uncertainty at quarterback.
Bill Snyder was unable to definitively name a starter, backup or third-string option when asked about the position at his weekly news conference on Tuesday.
Usual starter Skylar Thompson is questionable to play against the Jayhawks after suffering an apparent head injury last week against TCU. That makes Alex Delton the probable QB1 this week, but he is also dealing with nagging injuries. Snyder said “I would like to think he will” play, but stopped short of guaranteeing anything.
If both quarterbacks are unable to go, or one is forced out of the game, the Wildcats would have to choose between seldom-used junior Hunter Hall and freshman John Holcombe. Neither have played this season.
“We are not to that point yet,” Snyder said. “When we get to the end of the week we will have a better idea. Both of them are taking repetition.”
For now, the Wildcats are hopeful they won’t have to look that far down the depth chart.
Because they are confident in both Thompson and Delton. Many on the team still look to Delton as a starter, despite the fact he didn’t see the field in three straight games before taking over for Thompson during a 14-13 loss to the Horned Frogs.
Delton played admirably in his return to the huddle, completing 15 of 25 passes for 155 yards and finding Malik Knowles in the back of the end zone for a highlight touchdown. He also ran for 36 yards and a score.
Not bad considering he missed the entire month of October.
“He did a tremendous job to be thrust in there cold like that after not playing for at least four weeks,” right tackle Dalton Risner said. “If I was thrown in there I don’t know that I would have done as good a job as Alex. He did a great job of reading the defense, knowing the checks we were going to go into. He didn’t have a perfect game, just like no one on the team had a perfect game, but I think he did a lot of good things for us and I appreciated him a lot.”
Delton will be motivated to do even more against the Jayhawks.
Growing up in Hays, he knows all about this rivalry and would cherish the opportunity to lead the Wildcats to a victory. Not only would that end K-State’s current losing streak and keep its bowl hopes alive, that would mean the Governor’s Cup stays in Manhattan for another season.
He seems ready for the challenge. Though he admits it was frustrating to initially lose the starting job and then bide his time behind Thompson, he stayed ready.
Snyder never doubted him.
“I like Alex’s toughness,” Snyder said. “He is a competitive young guy and he brings some spirit to our players. They know he is going to compete. Not that other guys don’t, not that Skylar doesn’t, it’s just that he gets banged up pretty good, which is obvious, and he takes some hits because he’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he competes every snap.”
The Wildcats hope he is healthy enough to continue doing exactly that against the Jayhawks. If not, their quarterback plan will remain uncertain.