Here is everything you need to know about the Wildcats’ season opener in our Kansas State vs. South Dakota preview.
6:10 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS
TV: ESPN3 (Brian Smoller, Travis Tannahill)
Radio: K-State Sports Network (39 stations), Sirius 126, XM 201
Fun Fact: Although Bill Snyder is back for a 27th year, he is flanked by two new coordinators in Andre Coleman (offense) and Blake Seiler (defense), two of the seven assistants on staff that played and graduated from Kansas State.
QB Austin Simmons
WR Shamar Jackson
Jackson is the leader of a very deep group of wide receivers. How deep? Heading into its round of 16 playoff game last season, USD was the only team in the nation that had eight players with at least 20 catches. Jackson is a senior and is the leading returning player with 53 catches for 766 yards and four touchdowns last season.
Who’s at QB?
This is what everyone in Manhattan wants to know. Is it Alex Delton or Skylar Thompson? My guess is that it will be both on Saturday evening, but it will be interesting to find out who gets the start and how Bill Snyder and offensive coordinator Andre Coleman decide to utilize the two players in different packages.
DE Reggie Walker
Walker is now the focus of the K-State defensive line and will get a solid FCS test going up against a South Dakota offensive line that returns all five starters and a couple of freshman All-American picks from last season in Tyler Ciurej and Mason Scheidegger.
South Dakota likes to sling it around, as the Coyotes had the fourth-best scoring offense and sixth-best passing offense in the FCS last season. USD is working in a new quarterback in Simmons, but if he can pick up where USD left off last season, maybe they can put an early scare into a K-State team that has questions on the back seven and gave up the most passing yards per game in the Big 12 Conference last season. Last season, USD’s up-tempo was part of their success, averaging 82 plays per game and having an average touchdown drive span 2 minutes and 21 seconds. Of course, playing in the Big 12, the Wildcats should be used to this, but that’s South Dakota’s best bet to be making some noise in this game.
I hate to say all eyes are on the quarterback again, but they are. I’m guessing Snyder and Coleman won’t show much of their hand ahead of a big showdown against Mississippi State next week. But regardless, it’ll be fascinating to see how each QB is used. I’d also like to see Alex Barnes get off to a hot start, show he’s healthy again, and tear up an FCS defense (at least for a half), that ranked 93rd in the country last season, at the FCS level, in total defense. Also, the meshing of the linebackers of Da’Quan Patton, Elijah Sullivan and Sam Sizelove will be important to keep an eye on.
Prediction: K-State 35, South Dakota 17. Bill Snyder is typically not one to go out and really show his hand in these types of games, especially when there is a massive SEC opponent on deck. K-State will do what it needs to do to pick up a ho-hum Week 1 victory, but it won’t be overly flashy or exciting, because there is no need for it to be. I expect to see plenty of Delton and Thompson at QB to keep Mississippi State guessing as to what the Wildcats will do in Week 2.