MANHATTAN, Kan. – Bill Snyder's record as a head coach is marvelous when he has a returning quarterback with big-game experience, and that should bode especially well for Kansas State this season.
That's because he has two of them.
Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton each started four games last season, and each of them came off the bench in relief. Delton started four games before Thompson came on against Texas Tech and led the Wildcats to a victory. He started the final four games before Delton entered off the bench in the Cactus Bowl and earned offensive MVP honors in leading the Wildcats to a victory.
Thompson, a Fort Osage High School graduate, has the bigger arm. Delton has the faster legs. And while both of them are capable starters it appears the race for the job will come down to the final weeks of training camp.
"We work together all the time. I'm always next to him," Delton said. "In runs, we run next to each other. In lifts, we lift by each other and we're always together. We really understand that the best man is going to win and that's just football."
The fact that Delton and Thompson are never far apart was evident when Kansas State traveled to Dallas for the Big 12's annual media day. Instead of choosing one of his quarterbacks to attend, which is normally the case, coach Bill Snyder brought both of them along.
"I thought it was a great opportunity to apply some preseason pressure," Snyder said. "Secondly, they deserve to be here. They're both very competitive young guys. One is a captain, one is a co-captain. They've both stepped up and provided excellent leadership over the course of the summer workout program, which is extremely important. ... Both of them are just very, very capable young guys."
Snyder has used multiple players at the position before, and his complex offense — with its designed quarterback runs — often means whoever is the starter will get dinged up along the way.
So, having two capable guys at the position is a bonus. It also helps that the Wildcats return every starter along their offensive line, and running back Alex Barnes leads a talented group of skill position players.
"We both represent this football team pretty well as far as how we carry ourselves on and off the field," Thompson said. "We're competing each and every day. Whether it's conditioning or lifting, we're trying to be first in everything. I'm trying to beat him and he's trying to beat me. In the long run, it is going to make me a better football player and a better person. We'll see how it goes."
SNYDER'S NEW DEAL: Anybody who thought Snyder would call it quits anytime soon was surprised to find out that the 78-year-old coach recently signed a five-year contract through the 2022 season. Snyder battled throat cancer last year but was ready for the start of the season. He insisted that he feels energized going into this season and has no intention of calling it quits.
FRESH IDEAS: The Wildcats have new coordinators on both sides of the ball. Andre Coleman will be calling the shots on offense with input from new quarterbacks coach Collin Klein and Charlie Dickey, and Blake Seiler and Brian Norwood will handle the other side of the ball.
"They don't have any egos. I don't have an ego. Our mission is to win the game," Coleman said. "It doesn't matter where the idea comes from, as long as it is the best idea that puts our team in the best position to win, that's all I care about."
SPEAKING OF DEFENSE: Kansas State returns talent on defense, but big holes exist after defensive tackle Will Geary, linebackers Trent Tanking and Jayd Kirby and cornerback D.J. Reed moved on. The linebacker corps could become a strength with Elijah Sullivan, Da'Quan Patton and Justin Hughes in the mix. All of them are upgrades in athleticism, though they are also inexperience. Duke Shelley, Kendall Adams and Denzel Goolsby provide experience in the defensive backfield.
SEARCHING FOR SPECIALISTS: One of the best kickers in school history, Matthew McCrane, has graduated along with punter Nick Walsh, and Reed (punt returns) and Byron Pringle (kick returns) left for the NFL early last season. That means an entire overhaul of the special teams unit.
SCHEDULE OUTLOOK: After opening with South Dakota on Sept. 1, the Wildcats get a big test in Mississippi State at home. UTSA rounds out the non-conference slate while trips to West Virginia, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Iowa State will make for a tough Big 12 slate.