SE: K-State Displays Running Depth in Rout of Florida Atlantic

Before each game, K-State’s running backs exchange a singular message. Its theme? Be opportunistic, because everyone else is hungry for more. 

“Before the game, we always go up to each other and tell each other, ‘Get what you can get. Make the most of your opportunity. And eat,’” said K-State sophomore running back Dalvin Warmack, who led the Wildcats with 90 yards on eight carries. 

The Wildcats’ plethora of running options certainly took advantage of their chances in Saturday’s 63-7 win against Florida Atlantic in Bill Snyder Family Stadium, which hosted its 28th straight sellout. Eight Wildcats, including five running backs, combined for 336 rushing yards on 54 attempts. 

“I thought each of them (ran well),” K-State head coach Bill Snyder said. “All of them ran aggressively a good portion of the time, and that’s important for us and always has been.”

K-State’s ground performance marked the first game with 300 or more rushing yards since putting up 327 against Baylor in 2013. It was also the most yards on the ground by a K-State team since racking up 346 against KU in 2012.  

“We all just want to see each other play to the best of our ability,” Warmack said, “and whenever our time comes, we’re just trying to make sure we’re prepared.” 

Warmack highlighted the group, especially in the Wildcats’ second drive of the game. The 5-foot-8 back followed an 11-yard run with a 43-yard dash for the Wildcats’ longest play of the game, which set up their second score. 

“It felt good. The whole offensive line did a great job blocking and I just made one cut off Terrale Johnson, saw some open grass and tried to take off,” Warmack said. “I saw green grass and ran.”

Winston Dimel again assumed the role of K-State’s closer, so to speak. The sophomore fullback finished with four touchdowns on five carries, tying him for the second-most rushing touchdowns in a game by a K-State player. 

“You never really know coming into a game how many touches you’re going to get,” Dimel said, gaining 19 yards on the ground with a long run of 10. “When you get the touches, you just have to do the most you can with them.” 

Dimel credited the offensive line for “making it look easy” on goal-line runs, but sophomore tackle Dalton Risner threw praise right back at the Manhattan product. 

“He puts his head down and he runs the ball. I know sometimes you have to spin and do all the juke moves, but he’s a power back. He’s going to put his nose down, he’s going to run and he’s going to churn his feet,” Risner said. “He’s proven that over the last two years. If we get near the goal line and we give him the ball, we’re scoring. He’s a guy we all love blocking for because we know he’s going to run north to south, put his nose down and get in the end zone.”

Freshman Alex Barnes displayed his mix of power and speed. The Pittsburg-native racked up 73 yards on eight carries which was highlighted by a 22-yard run in the second quarter. 

“The guy’s just big and tough and hard to bring down,” said Warmack, adding that the depth of backs brings a constant battle to practices. “Every day there’s one of us that takes a little lead over the other three, and then, boom, somebody else jumps back up and takes the lead. It’s always a competition, and that’s good for all of us. It’s just making us all better.” 

Senior Charles Jones chipped in 40 yards on eight carries while Justin Silmon turned three carries into 18 yards. Between quarterbacks Jesse Ertz, Alex Delton and Joe Hubener, K-State gathered 96 more rushing yards. 

“It’s really strong, probably the best it’s been in years here,” Dimel said of the running attack. “I feel like we have five different players that can run the ball and do a great job, especially with our offensive line blocking the way they did today. I have a lot of confidence in every single running back.”

Even with 131 yards in penalties, many coming on holding calls to negate lengthy runs, K-State was still able to churn out impressive numbers on the ground with a variety of people. 

This, Risner said, paints a positive picture for the rest of the season.

“It could’ve been a lot more (rushing yards) than that. We hurt ourselves with (penalties), so I think you have a lot more to see in the rushing game,” Risner said. “I’m extremely proud of how we ran the ball today. Coming from an offensive lineman, I really, really wanted that. It’s good to know that we have a lot left out there.”