K-State running back battle still strong after blowout home opener

Sophomore running back Dalvin Warmack is tackled during the game between Kansas State and Florida Atlantic University in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sept. 17, 2016. (George Walker | The Collegian)

One of the biggest things to take away in Kansas State’s 63-7 win over Florida Atlantic was the production that the Wildcats got out of its running game.

On the day, the Cats rushed 54 times for 360 yards for an average of 6.2 yards per carry. Though the team accumulated all those yards, no player on the team rushed for more than 100. Sophomore Dalvin Warmack led the way with 90 yards on 8 carries, including a 43-yard scamper.

“I’ve been seeing things around saying that our running backs hadn’t broken a long run in a while so we all took it upon ourselves to keep that in mind coming into this game and just try to be playmakers and difference makers,” Warmack said.

Another young back, freshman Alex Barnes, also saw success on the day gaining 73 yards on 8 carries. Senior Charles Jones had 8 carries for 40 yards and sophomore Justin Silmon rushed 3 times for 18 yards.

Even the quarterbacks saw great success in the rushing department. Junior Jesse Ertz, senior Joe Hubener and sophomore Alex Delton combined for 96 yards and each had a rushing touchdown.

Sophomore fullback Winston Dimel may not have been the leading rusher, only gaining 19 yards on 5 carries, but he did find the end zone 4 times today in goal line situations.

With all the success that each running back had today, it now becomes a question of who is going to get a majority of the carries down the stretch. Sophomore lineman Dalton Risner is very excited about that competition.

“I love it, I absolutely love it as an offensive lineman,” Risner said. “Each running back brings something to the table. I think Charles Jones is a consistent guy; he’s always going to be there to play. Justin Silmon is a little half-and-half, he can do some of that speed stuff and he can be a power back as well. Dalvin Warmack is great on our draws, great on our screens and he ran the ball great in the second half on normal power plays as well. And Alex Barnes got in there and he did amazing job. He’s a guy who puts his head down and run and it’s exciting as an offensive lineman knowing that you have so much depth at the running back position.”

Internally, Warmack says that the competition between the backs won’t be a problem.

“We all just want to see each other do good,” Warmack said. “It’s more a friendly competition. We help each other out if we make a mistake or if I miss a cut or a block in practice, Charles, Justin and Alex will be, “Hey man you should’ve done this or that”.”

Down the stretch, the Wildcats could look to use just one or two backs, but for the time being, it appears it will be running back by committee.