K-Stated

Three K-State Thoughts: Joe Hubener delivers, defense shines, more Justin Silmon love

K-State running back Justin Silmon dives over the goal line for a touchdown Saturday against UTSA Roadrunners.(September 12, 2015)
K-State running back Justin Silmon dives over the goal line for a touchdown Saturday against UTSA Roadrunners.(September 12, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

Three thoughts from Kansas State’s 30-3 victory over Texas-San Antonio:

1. Joe Hubener was solid, if not spectacular, in his first start

The wild 15-yard scramble for a first down Hubener pulled off on K-State’s first drive summed up Hubener’s day against the Roadrunners. He started slow and looked shaky trying to change plays at the line of scrimmage inside the Alamodome, and things didn’t look promising when he dropped back to pass on third-and-11. He appeared on his way to a sack. But Hubener slipped away, almost fell down, regained his balance and then sprinted past defenders and the first-down marker.

By no means was it a beautiful play, but it got the job done.

Hubener completed 12 of 23 passes for 243 yards and ran for 58 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Solid. Best of all, he avoided turnovers. Whenever a coach says his quarterback "managed a good game" it usually means he has nothing truly positive to say about his quarterback, but on Saturday it was a true compliment for Hubener. He took care of business and guided K-State to a road victory.

He looked good throwing the ball deep and he showed poise making something out of nothing with his legs. His stat line could have been better with help from his receivers (drops). Then again, he also bounced several short passes that would have boosted his completion rate.

Can’t say I’ve seen many quarterbacks who look better chucking the ball 40 yards down field than five yards to the side. Even Bill Snyder seemed puzzled by that one.

Still, it was a solid start for Hubener.

Coach Bill Snyder talks after Kansas State defeats UTSA 30-3 on Saturday.

2. K-State is as good as expected on defense

The Wildcats are eight quarters into this young season, and they have only allowed three points. They are stingy against the run and the pass, and they toughen up on third down. They haven’t surrendered a touchdown.

K-State’s offense may need some fine tuning before it is ready for Big 12 competition, but its defense looks ready to roll.

First, they shutout South Dakota. Then they held UTSA to a field goal. Granted, neither of those teams are juggernauts, but the Roadrunners lit up No. 22 Arizona for 525 yards and 32 points last week.

Will Davis led the way Saturday with a game-high nine tackles and a pivotal pass breakup at the goal line. It appears he has taken a big step forward from a year ago, when he was known more for the tackles he missed than the ones he made.

Travis Britz was also a beast up front. Along with Will Geary, he makes running through the middle of K-State’s defense seem like a lost cause.

"We gave up three points," a no-nonsense Britz said Saturday, "and we don’t want to do that."

Crazy thing is, the Wildcats have not been at full strength during their first two games. Snyder held Danzel McDaniel out of the first game for unspecified reasons, and top safety Dante Barnett watched the UTSA game from the sideline with an injured shoulder.

They can get better.

Kellis Robinett and Blair Kerkhoff break down the Wildcats' victory (9-12-15).

3. Justin Silmon should start at running back

I will beat this drum until it happens.

Silmon, a redshirt freshman, once again stole the show in K-State’s backfield by running for 40 yards and a touchdown on six carries. His touchdown was the best play I’ve seen from a K-State running back since John Hubert, maybe even Daniel Thomas. Silmon showed both speed and power on the score, shedding tacklers on his way to the end zone.

He should be the starting running back instead of Charles Jones. At the least, he should play more than he currently does. Six touches? Come on.

Silmon averaged 6.7 yards on Saturday. Jones averaged 1.6, rushing for 11 yards on seven carries. Even Dalvin Warmack came in late and looked more explosive, running for 40 yards on five carries.

I understand Jones has the most experience. He is certainly the best blocker of the group. I’m sure there are valid reasons Snyder starts him instead of Silmon.

Snyder suggested Saturday that Silmon was hurt by a "technical issue in regards of getting plays." He was seen running out of place at least once in San Antonio. He needs to straighten that out.

But Snyder also said this: "We like Justin. By and large, he runs the ball well and is good downhill. He has got a little bit of deceptiveness to him. He can make you miss, but he doesn’t dally around with that too much. He gets north and south and that is what we need back there, guys who can do that."

Silmon is K-State’s best running back. He deserves more carries.

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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