Another spring game is on the books! Here's your official recap: K-State 35, K-State 21.
As with most spring games, it is difficult to predict much about the upcoming season from this one glorified scrimmage. But it is equally difficult not to feel a bit more hopeful than we were just a few days ago. We now have reasons to be enthusiastic!
Reason for enthusiasm #1
On the surface, the spring game did little to establish a single player at quarterback, and Jesse Ertz and Alex Delton appear set at #1 and #2, as they were last spring (Kellis Robinett, Wichita Eagle). But a deeper look reveals that every player in this QB battle has improved leaps and bounds since last spring, even the much-maligned Joe Hubener (Ken Corbitt, Topeka Capital-Journal). Ertz (12/18; 124 yds) showed no signs of the ACL injury that ended his season last year, and Delton (13/21; 129 yds) did well running the passing and running games. Hubener (21/25; 319 yds) had the best game of the trio, but admitted that he was inconsistent and that the receivers made great plays on the ball in several instances.
Reason for Enthusiasm #2
We have wide receivers who can actually make plays. In 2015, Hubener's passing game was significantly hampered by the lack of reliable and effective receiving targets, and the fact that Kody Cook was frequently lined up under center made a thin crew even more so. But Cook has since graduated and the wide receiver corps is stepping up big time (Kevin Haskin, Capital-Journal). Butler CC transfer Byron Pringle had an eye-popping day, tallying 163 yards including a 73-yard touchdown. He demonstrated both speed and size and should turn into the go-to receiver this year. Fellow newbie Corey Sutton arrived on campus early and intends to be a big contributor in the receiving game as well. Denzel Goolsby, Isaiah Zuber and Dominique Heath should also figure in the rotation.
Reason for Enthusiasm #3
The defense has plenty of fight. The defense was lost to injury and inexperience last year, but players who filled in last year gained valuable experience, and it really showed in the spring game. The Purple and White defenses combined for eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss despite conservative play (Grant Guggisberg, Manhattan Mercury). Dante Barnett is back! Duke Shelley led the No. 1s on the Purple team with six solo tackles and also broke up a pass, while new defensive back Jonathan Durham showed off his skills, netting four tackles and three pass breakups. The linebacker corps will have plenty of experiencing, since starters Will Davis, Elijah Lee, and Charmeachelle Moore all return, but they should get plenty of help from Sam Sizelove and Brogan Barry, who led the White team with 11 total tackles.
There should be some cause for concern as well to temper some of that enthusiasm. The offensive line was adequate, but not impressive. Team captain and unit veteran Dalton Risner did not play. In the running game, it looks like the ball will be run by committee. Justin Silmon impressed and appears to have a better handle on the playbook, while Charles Jones ultimately found his game and ran well. Dalvin Warmack had a couple of nice catches out of the backfield and Tyler Burns (Morgan's younger brother) had two touchdowns.
All in all, it was a decent spring game that highlighted several parts missing from Kansas State's 2015 campaign. As always, hope springs eternal.
Kansas State had an impressive showing in Arkansas at the John McDonnell Invitational, winning nine events and setting a new school record.For the women's team, Janeé Kassanavoid took victory in the hammer throw event, while Dani Winters was first in shot put. Joining them on the winner's podium from the field were Shardia Lawrence who won the triple jump event and Ally Zerbe who took first in the pole value. On the track, Akela Jones set a new school record in the 100m hurdles event, finishing second with a time of 12.94s. That is the best mark in the Big 12 this season, and third-best in the country. A'Keyla Mitchell won the 400m dash with a time of 52.34s, good for a new personal best and third all-time at Kansas State. Teammate Sonia Gaskin won the 800m event. The women also won the 4x400 relay, just beating out host school Arkansas.
On the men's side, Tyler Merkely won the hammer throw event with teammate Kyle Smith taking second place. Brett Neelly won the shot put contest, while Zack Supple took second in the pole vault. Terrell Smith had the best outing of the day on track, finishing second in the 200m dash.p>Up next, the Wildcats return to the state of Kansas, traveling to Lawrence for the Rock Chalk Classic.