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2018 K-State Football Position Preview: Alex Delton - Room to Improve

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What does Alex Delton need to do to take the next step?

Kansas State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

All-in-all, Alex Delton performed about as well you could expect for a first year starter in 2017. He was a dynamic runner, limited turnovers, and came on strong at the end of the season. I covered the positive aspects of his game in a prior article, and now it’s time to look at areas in his game where improvement is needed. Delton has the potential to be a great quarterback for the Wildcats, but he’s got a some things he needs to work on before he can transition from “potentially great quarterback” to “great quarterback.”

These are the areas of his game I’m looking to see improve in 2018:

Self Preservation

Alex Delton is a tough dude. He has no qualms with dropping his shoulder and finishing runs, but that comes with price. He suffered head injuries that knocked him out of both the Kansas and Texas Tech games. Even if you discount those two hits as freak occurrences, Delton still absorbs too much punishment during the course of the game.

Yes, some of it just comes with Delton’s skill set. He’s a run first quarterback, and he’s asked to things in the running game that most quarterbacks avoid like the plague. He’s asked to run hard between the tackles in the K-State offense, and when you do that, you’re going to absorb some punishment, but Delton has to get better at picking his battles.

Sometimes an extra yard isn’t worth getting blasted by a safety.

This run against Oklahoma is an example of Delton taking an unnecessary hit:

Delton does everything right on this play until he decides to try and take on the Oklahoma safety. I get it, things are going 100 miles an hour and he’s a competitor, but if he’s going to be the starting quarterback, he needs to learn how to slide.

Here is a closeup of the hit:

From this view, it looks like Delton’s upper and lower body aren’t on the same page. His legs look like they want to slide, but his upper body is leaning forward like he’s attempting to finish the run.

This is a Tom Brady slide:

Notice how Brady gets down with his upper body as well as his lower body? There is no question he’s sliding.

I actually think we can all help Alex with this. If you’re in the stadium and you see him lining up a safety, just scream out “get down!” If we can get most of the stadium involved, maybe he’ll get the message.

Decision Making In the Pocket

Delton actually did a pretty good job with decision making last year. He attempted 85 passes and only threw 2 interceptions. However, the play calling protects him somewhat. Most of the time he’s throwing on the run or off a play fake. He can focus on his primary receiver, see the coverage, and throw the ball. He’s usually only looking at one option.

He’s not nearly as good in the pocket. I’ve seen him throw into double coverage several times on film.

Here is an example from the TCU game:

It looks to me like he’s trying to go through his progressions, but once he gets off his primary receiver, he doesn’t see the linebacker standing in the zone waiting. TCU is running a mixed coverage here, with the linebacker picking up the back man to man and the rest of the defense in zone. Delton throws the ball like they are playing straight man.

He had time and a clean pocket but he either didn’t understand the coverage or didn’t see the field.

Here is another example vs Oklahoma:

First off, this was a terrible play call in my opinion, or more likely, a terrible audible. K-State had all of the momentum and the only way for Oklahoma to jump back into the game was a mistake. I don’t understand taking a shot here. Even though I don’t like the play call, Delton can’t throw this pass.

The defender is playing off and at no point was the receiver open. He has to eat this ball, take the sack, and try and get it back on the next play. Instead, he throws a heave and pray while getting blasted and flutters an easy interception to the waiting defender, allowing OU to cut the lead to a touchdown before half.

Arm Strength and Deep Ball Accuracy

This is going to be a little strange, because I’m going to use a clip from the positive article to show what Delton can improve upon.

This is from the OU game:

This should be a touchdown 10/10 times. Delton has a clean pocket, has his feet set, and is throwing the ball straight down the field. This is one of the easier deep balls you can throw.

Instead of putting the ball in front of the receiver, Delton floats the deep ball to ensure the completion, allowing both OU defenders back into the play. Schoen walks into the endzone untouched with a better throw.

This is how you throw a deep ball when you’re not confident that you can throw the deep ball. The receiver can come back for the under throw, but can’t catch up to the over throw. It shows a lack of confidence.

Or.....Delton is simply physically incapable of throwing the ball that far.

Another example from the OU game:

Look, all’s well that ends well, but that was a wounded duck that just happened to land in the receivers hands. I remember watching this play live in the stadium and wondering if the receiver was going to call a fair catch.

If that’s a back shoulder throw, it needs to be on the back shoulder and not 4 yards behind the receiver. I honestly have no idea why the OU defender let himself be driven off the ball by the receiver. I think you’ll see defensive backs play underneath receivers this year looking for the under throw until Delton proves he can throw the deep ball.

Overall

Delton’s biggest issue is his ability to throw from the pocket. If his passing improves, his game will jump to the next level. Last year, he was a running back that threw the ball. This year I would love to see him become a true dual threat quarterback. The best thing about his performance last year is that he has two more seasons to improve. I expect to see a more polished product this year.

Finally, Alex, buddy, if you’re reading this, please, please, please, get down early and avoid those big hits. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but on occasion, discretion is the better part of valor. We won’t think less of you if you slide.

Note: Guys, I’ve had a terrible week and am behind on my previews. I haven’t forgotten Skylar Thompson. I’ll have a full preview for Skylar up next week.

Enjoy the game tomorrow.