SE: Silmon Using 'Bigger Picture' to Become More Effective RB

Justin Silmon was difficult to tackle before he grasped K-State’s offense beyond his own responsibilities. As he’s learned the finer details of it, Silmon has become more effective and left opposing defenses with one more Wildcat running back to worry about. 

As a redshirt freshman, Silmon focused his mental energy on where he needed to be and when he needed to be there. Sometimes, this narrow grasp of the offense paired with his talent were enough, shown by his career-high 119 yards on 24 carries against Louisiana Tech. 

“He runs hard,” K-State junior linebacker Trent Tanking said of Silmon. “He’s hard to bring down because he has such good core strength, arm tackles aren’t going to be able to bring him down, and he’s able to spin out of tackles that maybe some other guys aren’t. It’s very impressive to watch him run.”

Silmon’s inexperience caught up with him in a deep group of running backs, however, and he received just 27 carries in the Wildcats’ final nine games last year. 

The former walk-on knew he needed to take his game, both mentally and physically, to another level to avoid fading to the background this season, especially considering K-State returned every running back from 2015 and added another talented one in Alex Barnes.  

“I really learned to just match their intensity,” Silmon said of the other running backs. “All of them run hard and run well, so I want to be right there with them. I don’t want to be a slouch to our running game.” 

Lately, Silmon has been anything but a slouch. 

The sophomore has averaged 5.6 yards per carry in the past three games, best among K-State’s running backs that have more than 10 carries during that time. His three-week run includes 26 carries for 147 yards, capped by 112 in the last two games on 20 attempts. 

“I think I’m getting more patient and knowing my blocking schemes better, knowing exactly where the line is going to be blocking and how they’re going to be fitting their guys. That’s something I added to my game this year,” he said. “This year I really see the bigger picture. That’s what I focus on, not just my position but everybody else’s.”

Silmon’s approach has paid dividends. 

He’s recorded the second-most yards among K-State’s running backs for the season (210) and for the past three games (147), only five yards behind Charles Jones’ total during the latter time. This has made finding any separation among K-State’s clutter of running backs even harder, which Silmon believes is a benefit for the team. 

“Everybody is hungry and ready for their turn. You might not be getting as many reps, but when you get in there you have to take advantage. Everyone has been doing that and doing a pretty good job so far,” he said. “As long as everybody can keep producing and we can keep getting fresh backs in there, that’s tough on the defense. When they start to tire out, we have guys who still have fresh legs.”

In K-State’s win at Iowa State, Silmon tallied 54 yards on nine carries — all in the first half — that included his first touchdown of the season and the second of his young career. 

“It was a thrill,” he said of scoring from three yards out. “It was my first one of the season and it’s always good to get in the end zone.”

In their two-game win streak, the Wildcats have thrived on their running attack, collecting 481 yards on the ground between wins over Texas and Iowa State. It’s the most rushing yards K-State has amassed in a two-game stretch since collecting 517 against Iowa State and Texas Tech in 2013. 

K-State has not had three-straight games with at least 200 yards rushing since 2011. The last time the Wildcats accomplished the feat solely against Big 12 opponents was in 2003, when all-time leading rusher Darren Sproles was in the backfield.  

“The running game is a big part of our offense and opens up different things that we can do in our playbook, so we need to make sure we keep it up,” said Silmon, who will look to help make it three straight in Saturday’s home game against Oklahoma State that kicks off at 2:30 p.m. “There’s something about when you run the ball well, it just sets the tone. The physicality of the offense, whenever you run the ball well it gets everybody in a rhythm and it is always good for us.”

K-State Football a Finalist for Armed Forces Merit Award

For the third time, K-State’s football team has been named a finalist for the Armed Forces Merit Award, presented by the Football Writers Association of America, for its partnership with the Fort Riley. The recipient of the award will be announced on Veteran’s Day on November 11.

This partnership allows the Wildcats to experience certain parts of life in the U.S. Army, such as joining in on a PT session, as well as simply interacting with soldiers on a personal level. 

“It was fun getting to do some of the workouts that they do. It was hard and you gain a lot of respect for those guys and what they do,” Silmon said. “Getting to work with those guys, interact with them, talk to them, know their stories and tell them ours, it’s just a big friendship between us.”

K-State’s game against Oklahoma State is also Fort Riley Day, reinforcing what head coach Bill Snyder views as an extremely important relationship. 

“Athletics is a venue for sacrifice and for learning the value of personal sacrifice for the good of others. When you think of all those young soldiers, older soldiers and what they have done, that’s meaningful to me. That is immensely meaningful to me,” he said. “We’ve always had a great relationship, so they have a great meaning to our program, and our players appreciate that as well. They’ve learned from that experience and the relationship that we have, which I think is beneficial for them.”

Jerry Kill to Host Book Signing in Cat Town Prior to OSU Game

A 2016 Kansas Hall of Fame inductee and current K-State Associate AD Jerry Kill will host a book signing from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m., Saturday, at Bill Snyder Family Stadium prior to the Wildcats’ 2:30 p.m., nationally-televised football game with Oklahoma State. The event, which will be held just inside the main Cat Town entrance and in front of the Hy-Vee tent, highlights the release of Kill’s new book, “Chasing Dreams: Living My Life One Yard At A Time,” which chronicles his football career, struggles with epilepsy and his national advocacy work for people who suffer from the disease.
 
All proceeds from book purchases will benefit the Chasing Dreams Coach Kill Epilepsy Fund, which Kill and his wife, Rebecca, founded through the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota (EFMN).