MORGANTOWN — One of the few starting quarterback battles in the Big 12 may not be much of a battle at all, according to Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder.
The Wildcats rode the wings of both Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton last season, but it appeared Thompson pulled away as the clear-cut starter toward the end of the year. The redshirt freshman pulled out wins over Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Iowa State. KSU’s lone hiccup under Thompson was a five-point loss Nov. 11, to WVU.
But after a rough first half against UCLA in the Cactus Bowl, Thompson was replaced by Delton in the second half, and Delton steam-rolled the Bruins’ defense to the tune of 158 yards on the ground, including three touchdowns rushing and one through the air.
Delton’s impressive bowl performance created a controversy during spring camp: Who will be the starter for Kansas State’s season-opener, Sept. 1, against South Dakota State?
During Big 12 media days Tuesday, at The Star in Frisco, Texas, the question still wasn’t answered as Snyder decided to bring both Delton and Thompson to speak.
In fact, Snyder made it seem like the question will not be answered, even when the Wildcats take the field against the Coyotes. It’s a matter of who fits the situation better.
“The important thing right now is not the schematics, it is their individual consistency and their performance, and trying to define which one is going to step ahead of the other,” the 79-year-old coach said. “I’m convinced the separation, whatever it is, will be minimal.”
Snyder hasn’t been shy in the past about running a two-quarterback system. In 2010, Carson Coffman and Collin Klein were swapped depending on the situation. In 2013, Jake Waters and Daniel Sams shared the QB duties, although Waters took a majority of the snaps. In 2015, Snyder used Kody Cook and Joe Hubener when Hubener struggled to find consistency late in the year.
Jesse Ertz became Hubener in 2016, continuing the trend, and last year, Thompson and Delton came in for an injured Ertz and never looked back.
It’s not surprising Snyder would try to take advantage of each’s skill set. Both are runners who can make plays out of the pocket, a staple of Snyder’s Wildcats teams.
How do his quarterbacks like it, though?
“Skylar is a good kid,” Delton said. “Like I was telling someone earlier, we’re together all the time. I’m always next to him. In runs, we run next to each other. In lifts, we lift next to each other. We’re always together. We really understand that in the maturation process that the best man’s going to win, but that’s football, that’s just one side of it. Outside of that, to be a constructive teammate, you can’t have any bad blood or anything.”
Thompson agrees, noting there are ways both can play and be effective, although there is certainly a desire to win the job.
“There are some ways they can probably incorporate us both,” he said. “Preferably, I want the job outright for myself and [Delton] wants the same for him. But I think there are definitely ways we could incorporate both our skill sets and have fun with it.”