MANHATTAN — Stopping short of naming a permanent starter at quarterback, Bill Snyder shed some light on the competition Monday morning with a veiled nod in the direction of sophomore Skylar Thompson.
Though they remain listed as co-starters on the latest depth chart, Thompson started and finished each of Kansas State’s first two games — a 27-24 victory over South Dakota and 31-10 loss to Mississippi State. Junior Alex Delton played just two series last week against the Bulldogs.
“We’re going to put a starter on the field every week, and that starter — and I’m not trying to put undue pressure on them — if they’re performing well, then it’s kind of like any other position,” Snyder said. “They’ll certainly stay on the field for the vast majority of the time.
“It’s not a matter of saying, ‘OK, we’re going to play you for a half and you for a half.’ At least we’re beyond that stage anyway, right now.”
Neither quarterback distinguished himself last week in an offensive performance that again produced just one touchdown. But Delton threw a costly interception that derailed a drive in Mississippi State territory with the Wildcats trailing just 10-3.
One minute, 15 seconds later it was 17-3 as the Bulldogs covered 65 yards in three plays for a decisive score.
Thompson had his own struggles, completing 7 of 17 passes for 86 yards while dealing with relentless pressure from Mississippi State’s defense. But he did throw a 23-yard touchdown strike to Dalton Schoen that made it a two-possession game late in the third quarter.
Schoen, who caught two passes for 34 yards in the game, sympathized with the quarterbacks’ plight afterward.
“I think they’re definitely in a tough spot,” he said. “It’s so hard for them to be able to play and get that rhythm going when they have to do a rotation and stuff like that, because you can rotate in practice and you know when you’re going to be getting your reps.
“It’s hard to get that rhythm going in a game when you’re splitting reps, so I think they’re doing the best they can. It’s something we’ve got to look into — something we’ve got to get ironed out — and they’ve just got to keep fighting, keep battling.”
Through the first two weeks, the Wildcats have completed just 44.9 percent of their passes for an average of 126 yards per game with three interceptions and two touchdowns. Their running game, which ranked second in the Big 12 last year, has produced and average of 184.5 yards and no touchdowns behind a veteran offensive line.
“I feel like we’re just struggling, trying to find our own identity on offense,” Thompson said. “We’re trying to find some continuity, some rhythm.
“I don’t feel like we’ve established that yet. I feel like when that does come it will help us a lot, it’s just going to take some time and we’re going to have to work through it.”
Ideally, that identity will include dominant rushing attack at some point, Thompson added.
“I feel like it’s very important that we established a consistent run game,” he said. “I feel it’s just getting a rhythm with our guys and the quarterback position and stuff like that — the whole offense having trust in one another.
“I feel like that’s been tough with me and Alex rotating in and out, but at the same time I feel like that plays into finding what we’re really good at and right we’re still searching for that.”
Snyder seems to be searching for the same answers, which is why he left the door open a crack.
“If they are having some struggles, having some difficulty, then very likely we would substitute and play the other one,” he said. “We’re just trying to get the best performance that we can on the field.”
The Wildcats play host to Texas-San Antonio (0-2) at 3 p.m. Saturday before opening Big 12 play on the road at 2:30 p.m. against No. 14-ranked West Virginia.