Thomas and Fisher Fuel Wildcat Offense

It was on the third of September, in the year 1 A.D. (After Darren) that two K-State running backs proved rushing yards do exist beyond the career of the one they called "Little Tank."

Thomas Clayton and Parrish Fisher combined to gain 151 yards in a game where both saw the first extended playing time of their careers.

"I think we showed that, this week, without Darren (Sproles) we're still capable of running the football," senior left tackle Jeromey Clary said.

"They came downhill. They were running north and south," said senior fullback Victor Mann of the rushing performances of the two backs. "They were chunking off big time runs, milking the clock. Both of them played well."

Clayton, a junior, started the game, and rushed for two touchdowns, including an 80-yard run that opened up the second half.

As impressive as Clayton's performance may have seemed, Snyder said he wasn't at the top of his game. "I'm think Thomas is a better back than what you saw today," Snyder said. "I'm not saying that he was bad; he wasn't bad at all. During the two-a-day period of time, I saw him do some things that I hadn't seen out of him before and I was hoping he would do some of those things today, but we didn't really get to see it."

"Spectacular," junior quarterback Allen Webb called Clayton's game. "I think he did a very good job. It didn't really surprise me. He's been doing that all spring and in the fall and in two-a-days, breaking tackles and taking it the distance."

Breaking tackles and taking it the distance is exactly what Clayton did on the opening play of the second half. At the Wildcat 20-yard-line, Clayton took a handoff to the right side, only to have to defenders immediately crash down on him. Clayton broke through the grasp of both defenders and took off on a sprint down the center of the field.

"I believe they came with a blitz from the strong-side linebacker, and he came down hard," Clayton said. "I saw him, so I dipped my shoulder, and I broke that tackle, and I put my hand down and green grass from there."

Fisher, a red-shirt freshman, exhibited a variety jukes and shakes that were somewhat reminiscent of a former No. 43, but Webb was more impressed by the power he showed in running the ball.

"He's a little dude," Webb said," but he runs like he's 250 (lbs.) and could bench everything in the world. Fisher rushed for 74 yards on 14 carries, but said he's not where he needs to be.

"I think there's definitely some things that I can improve on," Fisher said.

Clayton and Fisher weren't the only newcomers to make and impact on offense. The offensive line was comprised of four new starters and allowed only one sack of quarterback Allen Webb. John Hafferty, Jacob Voegeli, Matt Boss and Greg Wafford manned the trenches alongside returning starter Clary and performed well enough to draw positive reviews from their teammates as well as coach Snyder.

"I'm pleased," Snyder said in when asked how he though the offensive line played. "The bottom line is they put 35 points on the board. They protected our quarterback relatively well. I know we have to get better. I understand that part of it, but I think for our first ballgame, first time out, first time on the field I'm not overly disappointed."

"I thought they did a great job," Fisher said of his offensive line. "The yards that the runningbacks had and the way we ran the ball showed (that the line played well)."

"They recognized a lot of different formations that (Florida International) threw at us," Mann said of the young linemen. "They dug deep and just did what they had to do."

While the offense was by no means perfect, players and coaches seemed confident in the potential of the unit. "It's obvious that we still have a ways to go in a lot of areas," Snyder said of his offense, "but there's a foundation there to build on."

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