Barnes exits spring confident, atop RB depth chart

April 25, 2018

If Bill Snyder doesn’t agree with an evaluation, he’ll let you know.

One reporter felt the coach’s wrath Saturday.

During Snyder’s press conference following Kansas State’s Purple/White game, a reporter said running back Alex Barnes had apparently returned to the form he displayed during his freshman season, when he ran for 442 yards and averaged 7.9 yards per carry while scoring six touchdowns. In the reporter’s opinion, Barnes’ sophomore campaign in 2017 — when, as the Wildcats’ primary tailback, he started all 13 games and finished with 819 yards and seven touchdowns on 146 carries — was a disappointment.

Snyder didn’t concur.

“There you go again. You’re making the assessment of how good he was as a freshman as opposed to how good he was a sophomore,” Snyder said, “and your assessment is wrong. He’s a good young guy who has played well for us since he’s been here.”

Barnes led all rushers Saturday, with a game-high 94 yards on 18 carries, which included a 13-yard touchdown jaunt in the second quarter.

“I thought he played well,” Snyder said. “Made some individual plays. But it’s not anything we haven’t seen before, and not anything that we don’t expect from him.”

It mirrored Snyder’s view from earlier in the spring.

In his first meeting with media members April 10, Snyder said Barnes had “done well” in every practice to that point. And he credited the growth he’s seen from the entire unit, including Barnes, to the guidance of first-year running backs coach and K-State great Eric Hickson.

“They have been very, very competitive this spring,” Snyder said. “I think, on the offensive side of the ball, that’s the group that I feel strongest about right now. ... I’ve seen them step up their level of intensity. I think they run harder with the ball right now and they’re more active blockers.”

Barnes himself echoed Snyder, saying he had made “great” strides this spring.

“Running backs kind of beating up on the linebackers,” Barnes said with a smirk. “Coach Hickson is really stressing physicality and that sort of thing, and we’re all taking it to heart and taking it personally. We’re really balling out.”

Living up to Hickson’s high expectations this fall is Barnes’ chief objective.

“Coach Hickson lets us know every day as meetings start that we’re the most talented group on team,” Barnes said, “so we need to go out and show that.”