Another Outstanding K-State Offensive Backfield In The Making?

Another Outstanding K-State Offensive Backfield In The Making?

It was a great weekend for K-State football, as transfer running back Dylan Edwards committed to play for the Wildcats this fall. During his true freshman season at Colorado in 2023, Edwards rushed for 321 yards and a touchdown and added 299 yards and four touchdowns receiving. Edwards will join returning K-State running back DJ Giddens in the backfield. Giddens rushed for 1,226 yards and ten touchdowns in 2023, and he also had 323 yards receiving and three touchdowns through the air. A backfield of Edwards, Giddens, and dual-threat quarterback Avery Johnson should be enough to give Big 12 defensive coordinators nightmares trying to come up with ways to stop the K-State offense this fall. Could this be one of the most explosive backfields in K-State history? It is fun to think about that possibility.

I looked at the K-State rosters since 1989, Bill Snyder’s first season as head coach, to see if I could find or remember a three-headed monster offensive backfield of quarterback and two running backs that may compare to what we will witness this fall. I found quite a few, and as I took a stroll down memory lane, I decided to rank the top 10 K-State offensive backfields since 1989. 

10. 1995 – Matt Miller, Eric Hickson, and Mike Lawrence

Miller, Hickson, and Lawrence combined for 3,999 yards from scrimmage in 1995 when K-State went 10-2 and won the Holiday Bowl. Miller was a dual-threat quarterback who had 2,059 yards through the air and 309 yards rushing on the season. Hickson and Lawrence were a great one-two punch running the ball. Hickson had 816 yards rushing on the season, and Lawrence added 599.

9. 1993 – Chad May, JJ Smith, and Rod Schiller

While Chad May was not a dual-threat quarterback, the numbers he put up through the air were impressive, with 2,682 passing yards. JJ Smith had 748 yards rushing and 247 yards receiving, and Rod Schiller had 505 yards rushing with 31 yards receiving. The total of 4,213 yards from scrimmage from the three means I can’t ignore putting them on the list. The 1993 Wildcats went 9-2-1 and won the Copper Bowl against Wyoming.

8. 2021 – Skylar Thompson, Deuce Vaughn, and Joe Ervin

The production that these three players put up was undeniable, with 4,319 total yards from scrimmage. Thompson had 2,113 yards passing, Deuce Vaughn had 1404 rushing yards and 468 receiving yards, and Joe Ervin added 322 rushing yards and 12 receiving. This group is probably more of a two-headed monster than a three-headed one, but Ervin did contribute, averaging five yards per carry in relief of Deuce Vaughn.

7. 2022 – Will Howard, Deuce Vaughn, and DJ Giddens

Howard played for an injured Adrian Martinez and led the Wildcats to the Big 12 championship. This group had 4,185 total yards from scrimmage. Howard had 1,633 yards passing, Deuce Vaughn had 1,558 rushing and 378 receiving yards, and DJ Giddens had 518 rushing and 98 receiving yards. If you add in Adrian Martinez’s 1,888 yards from scrimmage, this group had 6.073 yards, making them the most productive offensive backfield in K-State history. So why do I have them ranked seventh? Good question. Because you can only play one quarterback, and we don’t have complete season stats for Howard or Martinez. It is also a different game now than it was 30 years ago. Also, the top six are all REALLY good.

6. 1997 – Michael Bishop, Eric Hickson, and Mike Lawrence

Hickson and Lawrence did their thing again in 1997 while Michael Bishop learned the ropes in the Big 12. Hickson had 750 yards rushing, Lawrence had 605, and Bishop passed for 1,557 rushed for 566 yards. The group had a total of 3,647 total yards from scrimmage. This K-State team went 11-1 and beat Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl.

5. 2000 – Jonathan Beasley, Josh Scobey, and Rock Cartwright

Beasley is one of the most underrated quarterbacks in school history. He led the 2000 Wildcats to an 11-3 record and an appearance in the Big 12 championship game before beating Tennessee in the Cotton Bowl. The backfield of Scobey and Cartwright was very talented. Beasley passed for 2,636 yards and rushed for 499. Josh Scobey ran for 718 yards, and Rock Cartwright ran for 278. This group had 4,523 total yards from scrimmage.

4. 2007 – Josh Freeman, James Johnson, and Leon Patton.

Can’t ignore the numbers on this one. While not a dual-threat quarterback, Freeman was a first-round NFL draft pick who had two talented running backs behind him. James Johnson ran for 1,106 yards on the season, and Leon Patton added 390. Freeman had 3,353 yards through the air, and this group had 5,131 total yards from scrimmage.

3. 2012 – Collin Klein, John Hubert, and Angelo Pease

This group was mostly Klein and Hubert, but Pease was a solid contributor with 333 rushing yards. Klein had 2,641 passing and 920 rushing yards. John Hubert had 947 yards rushing. The group had 4,962 total yards from scrimmage on a team that won the Big 12 championship with an 11-2 record.

2. 1998 – Michael Bishop, Eric Hickson, and Frank Murphy

Bishop had 2,844 passing and 748 rushing yards in 1998, leading K-State to an 11-2 record. Hickson had 902 yards rushing, and Frank Murphy was the speedster out of the backfield, rushing to 257 yards. The group combined for 4,935 total yards from scrimmage.

1. 2003 – Ell Roberson, Darren Sproles, and Ayo Saba

Sproles and Roberson were a two-headed monster, but Ayo Saba was a big, bruising back who was handed the ball near the goal line and rumbled across it. He had four touchdown runs in 2003 after recording eight in 2002. Roberson was spectacular, with 2,545 passing and 975 rushing yards, and Sproles had 1,986 on the ground and 287 through the air. This group had 5,844 total yards from scrimmage.

What I realized from this exercise is if you have at least three weapons out of the backfield, you will find success offensively. Most of the groups above took the Wildcats to great heights. Three won Big 12 championships, and a lot of the others had big bowl game victories. Can Avery Johnson, DJ Giddens, and Dylan Edwards add their names somewhere to this list? Seems likely to me.

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