Highlights from the last open practice

About 500 people showed up Saturday afternoon at Bill Snyder Family Stadium for the final open football practice before the season begins with a home game Sept. 2 against Illinois State. A new Quarterback Practices with the Cats not named Wefald. Want to read more about the Cats and all the practice notes? Click Here!

The Kansas State football team practiced for about two hours and worked mostly on special teams under moderately rainy conditions.

The Wildcats worked on field goals and extra points, onside kicks, and kickoff and punt returns. The team ended practice with a little 11-on-11 drill and they also had a one-on-one passing drill. That drill got the crowd into the practice as receivers went up against cornerbacks, running backs against safeties, tight ends against linebackers and even linemen against linemen.

For those who didn't attend, here are some of the highlights of what you missed

Quarterback's

The quarterback race started off with five members during spring practice last May and has since been trimmed to two with Allen Webb, Allan Evridge and Kevin Lopina all transferring.

Senior Dylan Meier took most of the snaps with the first-team offense and true-freshman Josh Freeman came in with the second team.

Meier was a little shaky at first. He didn't throw too many tight spirals and some of his passes were off target. There was not much full-team practice so he was unable to find his rhythm, but he had a couple of nice passes to show why he is running with the first team.

Freeman uses his 6-foot-6-inch height to his advantage. He throws over his shoulder instead of side arm, which allows him to throw over defenders and pass-rushers. He has very good mechanics and had good velocity on all his throws.

During warm-ups, freshman tight end Jeron Mastrud was seen throwing with Freeman and Meier. He had a nice warm-up session, but did not play quarterback when the team went to 11-on-11.

Mastrud completed 49-of-82 attempts for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns as a part-time quarterback last year during his senior season at Southridge High School in Beavertion, Ore.

Carlos Alsup started out with the first-team offense at running back, and Thomas Clayton came in and ran with both the first and second teams. Alsup and Clayton didn't have too many chances to show their stuff, but Clayton has definitely been pumping iron in the off-season. He has beefed up and will probably be trying to run over defenders when he steps onto the field.

Jermaine Moreira and Jordy Nelson were the starting wide receivers, and Yamon Figurs will more than likely come in when the team runs three receiver sets. Moreira and Figurs will be two of the men who split kick return duties as well.

Rashaad Norwood is the starting tight end at this moment, but that might not last too long. He doesn't have a problem blocking, but he is still struggling with holding on to the football. Brett Alstatt and Daniel Gonzalez are the two main backups, and showed glimpses of promise during the practice. They both are decent blockers and Alstatt has the ability to go up and get the football when it's thrown his way.

Nick Stringer, Gerard Spexarth, Jordan Bedore, Michael Frieson and Caleb Handy were the starting offensive linemen Saturday. These will more than likely be the guys who will attempt to shore up arguably the worst part of the team a year ago. They looked very much in sync during the limited team drills. None of them played poorly, and none of them played outstanding, but they held off the pass rush for Meier and opened a couple of holes for Alsup and Clayton. The most important factor is none of them ever committed a false start penalty.

Freshman linebacker Ross Diehl has been taking numerous reps with the first-team defense. He looks like he has been in the weight room this summer. He seems to have improved his lateral quickness and will be a huge asset to the linebacking corp. Brandon Archer, Reggie Walker and Zach Diles were the starters, and Diehl was playing as the first backup.

There doesn't seem to be a place in the starting lineup for senior Maurice Mack anymore with the emergence of Diehl. He has started at safety and linebacker during his career, but he just doesn't seem to fit into this defensive scheme.

He is not fast enough to play safety in the cover 2 defense even though Marcus Watts continues to be plagued by injury, and there are too many linebackers ahead of him like Walker and Diles. The guys ahead of him are just slightly faster, and hit a little harder.

Junior-college transfer Rob Jackson has obviously impressed the coaches because he took many reps with the first-team defense at the end position. He is quick off the edge and should help stop the opposing team's running game.

Steven Cline, Ian Campbell, Blake Seiler and Jackson were the starters on the defensive line.

Projected starter Moses Manu saw action with the second team, and it appears as if Jackson might have taken his spot. He looks like he has gotten slightly better since the spring, but Jackson has a freakish combination of being huge and extremely quick, and it would be hard to keep him out of the lineup.

Bryan Baldwin and Justin McKinney once again manned the corner positions on the defense. They both showed improvement from last season, and Baldwin has definitely improved his footwork and agility since last spring. Byron Garvin is the third cornerback, and he looked good as well. He read Meier beautifully on one play, and intercepted him once during the team drills. He ran the ball all the way back for a touchdown.

Kyle Williams is holding down the strong safety spot, while Andrew Erker continues to play at free safety as Marcus Watts is still nursing an injury from last season.

Cole Brokenicky and Tim Reyer were the punters during the special teams portions of camp, and Reyer, the starting punter from last year, kicked a lot of balls high and long. He looked very comfortable with his punts, and should remain the starter going into the season. Jermaine Moreria and Antonio Brown were the two players returning the punts.

Place-kicker Jeff Snodgrass worked on his game a little during practice as well. The team did a drill where the team would run a play and he would run onto the field to kick a last-second field goal. He missed the first one wide left from about 40 yards, but he answered with a 55-yarder that hit the right goal post and went through the uprights. The kick got a huge ovation from the crowd.

NOTABLE INJURIES: The two biggest names missing from practice Saturday were running back Parrish Fisher and safety Marcus Watts. Watts sustained an injury in the season finale against Missouri last season, while Fisher hurt his leg during the spring practices. Both were absent from practice.

Sophomore Andrew Erker practiced as the No. 1 safety in place of Watts.


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